Every town tells a story. The first sight that greets you in Grafenwöhr, an out-of-the-way place in the forests of Bavaria, close to the Czech border, is the giant stars-and-stripes flying outside a used car dealership that specialises in American models.
A picture of Uncle Sam scowls from the window. Across the street, an American tank stands guard over the Nato training ground.
Grafenwöhr is really two towns. There is the German town, with its cobbled market square and its 15th century town hall. And there is the American town where the Hallowe’en decorations are already in place, a vast sprawl of suburbia transplanted from the US, complete with front yards and pick-up trucks, and a street called Elvis Presley Strasse.
The German town is a sleepy place of 6,700 inhabitants, but more than 30,000 Americans live here, a legacy of the Cold War. Grafenwöhr is part of Garrison Bavaria, the largest American military base outside the US.
But they are about to start leaving. Under plans drawn up at the orders of Donald Trump, the US military is preparing to withdraw a third of the 36,000 troops it currently has stationed in Germany. It is not just about cutting costs or “bringing our people home”, as Mr Trump has long pledged to do. Almost half will be transferred to other European countries such as Poland and Belgium.