Being offered the post as Consul General in Montreal was excellent news to my wife, who is from Montreal, and to myself. I had been closely attached to Canada. I had studied two years in Ottawa, and I also considered Montreal to be almost a second hometown. Our two adult children do not live far away in Ottawa so that we could see them frequently again. We decided to stay in Montreal when I retired after nearly five years. Peculiar with my posting was that I had to function in a double capacity also as the Economic Counsellor of the German Embassy in Ottawa.
I did particularly appreciate the active hospitality of the Provincial Government and the political leadership of the City towards the Consular Corps and their approachability even on the highest level. The German Consulate General could, furthermore, profit from the general popularity of “Merkel-Germany”.
The friendly accommodation of the Provincial Government also came true when, being the political highlight during my term in office, Federal President Joachim Gauck paid an official state visit to Canada in September 2014, which – though shorter than Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard had hoped for – went very well in Quebec City, including a walk through the old city in bright sunshine. The Federal President left nevertheless some small “dust clouds” behind him after expressing at two public appearances his satisfaction on Quebec being a part of Canada. Politicians of the independence-seeking Parti Quebecois tweeted right away against this “interference”. The visits of a number of other political delegations went without problems as well. A dog sled ride in very chilling temperatures not far from Quebec City, being a touristic addition to the programme of the German-Canadian friendship group in the German Bundestag, will forever stick to my mind.
The cultural exchanges were rich. They were promoted by the very active Goethe-Institute and the Consulate General, but largely also happened “on their own”. We frequently heard only by good chance about the presence of interesting German artists in the city. I remember as particular exciting but in the end very successful a concert in the German St. John's Church in 2014 which to the German Consulate had invited in commemoration of the beginning of World War I. It nearly had to be cancelled because the rented grand piano did not fit through the staircase of the church. It was saved in the last minute by the flexibility of the pianist to play the organ instead and also of the other artists to present in very short notice different pieces than originally planned.
Academic cooperation with its multiple facets challenged the Consulate General as well. Among others, a presentation on World War I by Christopher Clark, the renowned historian and expert on Germany, at a North American Historical Congress in April 2014 made a strong impact. His attendance had been facilitated by the German Consulate General.
I shall remember with very particular appreciation the friendly and open spirit of the Jewish Community, notably on behalf of the Jewish Public Library and the Holocaust Memorial Centre. Highlight, besides other projects, was the quickly fully booked appearance of a Berlin Klezmer group in the Jewish Public Library in 2015 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. The German and Israeli Consulates General had invited to this event. I felt, furthermore, particularly honoured to be invited by the Holocaust Memorial Centre to deliver the keynote address on the anniversary of the “Night of Broken Glass” in the same year, an event which also the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Michel Doyon, honoured with his presence.