Kallstadt (Germany) (AFP)
The mayor of the German ancestral village Donald Trump promised before the shocking US presidential election in 2016 that if he does something “great” for America or the world, he will hang a plaque in his honor.
Four years on, there is still no placard.
Kallstadt is a small wine-growing town in southwest Germany where Trump’s paternal grandparents grew up across the street in a modest still-standing house.
As the world prepares for the climax of another major US election on November 3, residents are becoming a little tired of the Trump name in their friendly community.
“It’s just wishful thinking,” Mayor Thomas Jaworek, 52, told AFP when asked about the placard.
“Our two countries were friends, and our personal friendship remains.
“But when you see (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel and Donald Trump sitting side by side, you feel like there is now a world between us,” he said, referring to the extremely cold relationship between the two leaders.
There is no Trump left in Kallstadt, with a population of 1,200, but a relative in the nearby town of Freinsheim appears to have little family flair for self-promotion.
Ursula Trump, who is 73 years old only a year younger than the president, said that immediately after her election she started selling cookies with the icing of the American flag and the little Trump emblem made of sugar in the bakery that bears her name.
“People come from everywhere, just for Trump’s cake – that’s crazy,” he said with a big grin. “Even the Russians are coming.”
Until some local residents boycotted his shop.
“They said ‘why are you advertising for that idiot?’.”
“I tell them, ‘I’m not doing an ad for him – I have his name, why don’t I take advantage of it?'”
– ‘Same face’ –
Ursula comes from a nearby village and as a young woman married Harald Trump, who has traced her relationship with the US leader to a common ancestor four generations ago.
She says she can see a little bit of family resemblance, especially when her husband is angry.
“He’s making the same face as Donald,” she said, making her face grimace. “My son did too.”
He said his family was very proud to be recognized when their name appeared in connection with Trump, who pronounced the name “Droomb” in the regional Palatinate dialect.
When talking about politics, Ursula said she “doesn’t know much” but doesn’t care about “the president’s hatred of women”.
He thinks the transatlantic alliance, fostered in the region by a decades-long presence of thousands of GIs at bases such as Ramstein, Kaiserslautern and Spangdahlem, is suffering under Trump’s watch.
Ursula said he was “unhappy” with Trump’s plans to cut the number of US troops stationed in Germany by 9,500 to 25,000.
“Americans and Germans are both great. American-German friendship was built over the years because the Americans were here. I think it could destroy it.”
While there are still a few dozen Trumps in the area, most have grown tired of the media spotlight.
But Sven Trump, 38, who says he is a distant cousin of the US leader, tried to tap attention to last year’s “green” campaign ahead of UN climate talks in Madrid.
Wearing a familiar red hat with the slogan “Keep the world great” and posing in front of Trump’s grandfather’s house, he said: “Donald, climate change exists and its consequences affect the US, and so do you!”
Through his Twitter and Instagram accounts @realsventrump, he tried to mock Trump into rejoining the 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls for reducing CO2 emissions, and doing his part by cutting back on fast food and playing golf.
– ‘Germany in my blood’ –
Joerg Leineweber runs a hotel right next to Trump’s grandfather’s house, a simple white house far from where Trump currently lives in Washington.
“There was a group that stopped in front of it and posed for selfies, but there was a lot more three years ago,” said Leineweber, 53.
He said the impending departure of US troops was just one symbol of the end of the era of post-war relations with America.
“There is no longer the trust that we used to have,” he said.
Trump has never visited Kallstadt and only made two brief stops in Germany as president.
Asked last year about a possible state visit, the president promised to accept Merkel’s invitation with reference to her family roots.
“I have German blood, I’ll be there,” he said. But he’s not back yet.
Jaworek, the mayor, is a member of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union. He said he was surprised to see Trump dealing so hard with Germany over disputes such as trade and defense spending.
“At the same time, he’s looking for people who have never been friends to America like North Korea,” said Jaworek.
He sounded relieved to have avoided arranging a possible presidential visit – so far.
“Maybe everything will be finished in early November,” he said.
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