Germany’s consul general in Atlanta, Lutz Görgens, underscored the importance of foreign language learning and made a special case for learning German during his comments on Germany Unity Day, Oct. 3.

The celebration of East Germany’s incorporation into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 was held at the Rialto Theater downtown and drew several hundred convivial guests.

The Woodward Academy Symphonic Winds launched the festivities with Germany’s and the United States’ national anthems at the evening event, which developed into a rousing endorsement of German culture including a large buffet of red cabbage, sauerkraut, fried potatoes and other favorite foods.

Mr. Görgens thanked the youth orchestra before launching into his endorsement of German language study, complimenting the representatives of the German Saturday School and the Atlanta International School for their German programs.

“They all contribute to keeping the German language on the map in Georgia. Knowing languages is about understanding cultural diversity,” Mr. Görgens said. “Education towards linguistic aptitude is part of the much needed education towards competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

He later emphasized the importance of the German language for the Southeast pointing to the presence of 330 German companies in Georgia.

“Nobody can tell me that learning German is not just as advantageous for the career of a young American professional as learning English is for his future German partner,” he said.

And he reinforced his case by pointing to the German-American Chamber of Commerce “as the strongest bilateral chamber in the Southeast,” and to a “reinvigorated” German Cultural Center.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and Lufthansa AG’s direct daily flights from Atlanta to the German cities of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich and Dusseldorf are additional inducements to learn German, he said.

Besides the commercial ties, he pointed to other ties binding Germany and the Southeast such as the success of Georgia State University’s baseball coach Greg Frady.

Mr. Frady also coaches the German national baseball team, which he led to a second-place tie at the recent 2007 European Baseball Championship in Barcelona, Spain.

Mr. Görgens then cited the “Crossing Bridges” program linking Atlanta businesswomen with their counterparts in Atlanta’s sister city Nuremberg, Germany, and the numerous trade missions going back and forth between the Southeast and Germany these days as further examples of strengthening ties.

In addition, he said that German-Georgia heritage continues to be appreciated through the efforts of organizations such as the German Friendly Society dating back to 1837, the Georgia Salzburger Society dating back to 1925 and German Heritage Society, started more recently in 1965, which are all located in Savannah, where he visited recently.

And he thanked Gov. Sonny Perdue for proclaiming October 2007 as German-American Month in Georgia before encouraging “Germans and Americans with or without German heritage” to enjoy the food and drink and “celebrate unity.”

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