Stuttgart 21 Demonstrations

October 25, 2010

By Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs

If you live anywhere near downtown Stuttgart or enjoy spending time there on weekends, you can’t ignore the thousands of people protesting the construction of the new train station. 

Whether you are for or against Stuttgart 21, or simply don’t care, there seems to be no way to escape the crowds of people with their “kein Stuttgart 21” signs.  You may have even noticed the tents set up in the park behind the train station, where many people are living.  Some are even living in the trees, to protest them being cut down for the construction!Living downtown, this weekend I found myself in the midst of  two huge demonstrations—one for Stuttgart 21 supporters and an even bigger one for the Stuttgart 21 protesters.   

On Saturday, 10,0000 people gathered in Schlossplatz to show their support for the construction of the new train station.  Since my German is limited to food and restaurant terms, I didn’t know exactly what they were saying but there was a lot of cheering and waving of “I love Stuttgart 21” flags. At the same time this was going on, a larger gathering was beginning to form at the Hauptbhanof train station.  Approximately 50,000 people began marching down the street by the station and turning onto Hauptstrasse, stopping traffic as they made their way around the city center.   

Riot police were positioned at every intersection to ensure the anti-stuttgart 21ers did not clash with the pro-Stuttgart 21ers who were still gathered at Schlossplatz. 

The protests, while very loud and disruptive to those wishing to spend a leisurely Saturday down, were all-in-all very peaceful.   

The Stuttgart 21 project would provide high-speed rail service to and from Munich, Vienna, and Bratislava. Widespread protests for and against have affected daily city life and been featured in international news. Opponents are concerned about the high cost (close to $10 billion) and potential environmental damage. Supporters say the project includes environmental considerations and that Stuttgart would experience long-term financial gains from better connections to cities further East. See related news article: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6143533,00.html

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