Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with J. Michael Springmann
This situation was compounded by the blunders of the FSOs. Seriously incompetent local staff was kept on (and even promoted) at the expense of hard-working Germans who dealt with Americans as equals. A Turkish girl whose attitude was “I won't work and you can't make me” was placed in charge of the Consulate's computers and a German girl who repeatedly violated travel regulations was kept while a pro-American German woman was fired (after nearly 20 years with the Consulate). Ostensibly, she had a substance abuse problem but, in reality, she questioned her supervisor's decisions. (At that time, one of the Administrative Officers in Stuttgart was such an alcoholic that he once had himself medically-evacuated, so I was told by a CIA case officer, for cirrhosis of the liver. He got several more assignments and was permitted to retire.)
Q: Does Stuttgart have a trade fair?
SPRINGMANN: They had regional fairs that we would go to and either try to take space, or just walk about talking to local companies. There was nothing on the order of Frankfurt, or some of the big electronic shows in Munich. There were things like heating, ventilating, and air conditioning events, and they'd have a wine show. They would have a camping and leisure-time activities show. Occasionally the consulate would take a booth and do things like issuing visas on the spot to people.
Q: You mentioned about the reluctance of a lot of American firms to deal abroad. Were we out there saying, come on, there's a market here, come on in, the water's fine. And what was happening?
SPRINGMANN: Nobody was coming.
Q: Why not? We're talking about how we felt at the time, why we felt they weren't doing that.
SPRINGMANN: The best explanation was the one Waltraut Enzmann came up with, and I really think it's valid. She talked about her travels in the U.S., meeting with local companies, going to Commerce field offices. She found that if a company was selling to five states now and figured in the next couple of years they could sell to eight states, they figured they'd be doing great. They had absolutely no interest in selling to Germany where you've got to deal in another language, metric specifications, letters of credit, and that kind of stuff.
Q: Many people pointed out that basically the United States is a huge common market, and in a way it makes sense to try to go beyond that, except at a certain point in the make-up picture, it makes a hell of a lot of sense.