San Francisco consulate assails visiting German MPs
The Local · 18 Aug 2008, 17:07
Published: 18 Aug 2008 17:07 GMT+02:00
In what appears to be an outrageous case of bruised egos and public servants with serious entitlement issues, the visiting members of the German parliament supposedly felt they were not treated appropriately on an 11-day official trip to Canada and the United States last May.
The six MPs were members of the Bundestag’s parliamentary health committee from across the political spectrum, weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday. The magazine was given a confidential letter from Rolf Schütte, the German consul in San Francisco, to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin that detailed the group’s “trip of a special nature” that included behaviour ranging from “unacceptable to devious.“
Beside apparently wanting the official trip to leave plenty of free time for sightseeing and shopping, the MPs cancelled a meeting with US officials in the Californian capital Sacramento at the last minute because they felt they had better things to do. Der Spiegel reported that the consulate was forced to lie to the Americans to save face.
Two MPs were taken to task in particular: Annette Widmann-Mauz, a Christian Democrat in Baden-Württemberg, and Randolph Krüger, a Social Democrat from Potsdam.
Because Widmann-Mauz had broken her foot before the trip, the parliamentarians had demanded a wheelchair for her, but the consulate apparently provided one that wasn’t acceptable to the MPs.
"It was a chair for the sick with small wheels, the kind like from old US movies," said Widmann-Mauz.
Because she couldn’t move around on her own, Krüger reportedly said: “We need a negro who can push the wheelchair.”
Asked about the racist comment by Der Spiegel, Krüger merely said he “wouldn’t rule out that I said that. If they produce such a fabulous contraption then they should have at least helped out.”
He also had nothing good to say about the German officials in San Francisco, who didn’t live up to his expectations. “The people from the consulate are apparently used to pulling drunken tourists out of a jail cell, but don’t know what service they should provide for Bundestag parliamentarians,” he said.
That, according to Consul Schütte, involved “repeatedly” demanding “that the programme not be overloaded with appointments so there was enough time for free amusement” such as visiting Fisherman’s Wharf or riding a famous San Francisco Cable Car.
Another MP, Christian Democrat Hubert Hüppe, demanded at the end of the infamous trip that he be chauffeured to the airport because he said: “I can barely speak English.” But his driver then found out to his “surprise that MP Hüppe could not only speak English at the check-in, but that he could even express his wish for a first class upgrade,” according to Schütte’s letter.