Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Awesome Soccer Side-Effect

[slightly updated/edited]
These two articles, on a side-effect of the World Cup in the homeland I've never seen, heartens me to no end. I remember when the "collective depression" remark was made and was depressed for Germany; now I'm happy for her. Wow, do I wish I could be over there right now!

Feelings of patriotism stifled for decades by the Holocaust came to the fore...

Finally! I've always been patriotic both for the USA and for Germany, but when people around you have knowledge of German history that stops at 1944 ... It's hard to explain to some people how you can be patriotic for what's good about a country that's done something bad, or for what came after the bad. The answer, of course, can be gleaned from statements like this:

Germany was always full of friendly and optimistic people like Klinsmann -- it's just that they were often drowned out by all the complainers and pessimists.

The good was always there. It's just sometimes like trying to explain to a friend why you still love your brother, who hurt your friend deeply long ago, but has since grown better and wiser. Still, I wonder if this German patriotism wasn't still easier here than in Germany sometimes. (How do my German readers feel about this?)

You know something seismic has happened when England fans who came to Germany with inflatable Spitfires singing " 10 German Bombers" suddenly start supporting the German national team.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair pointed out this unprecedented phenomenon in an opinion piece for Sunday's Bild am Sonntag newspaper, and declared: "The old clichés have been replaced by a new, positive and more fair image of Germany."

Again, I'm gladdened to no end, both that Germans are/feel different, and that people are starting to feel differently about them. I don't mind all that much that there are stereotypes of countries out there. Positive stereotypes, if rather useless, can be fun. (E.g., I now know to plan transportation for any outing with my friends, even ones I'm not technically organizing, and I'll just tell Mikaela it's b/c I'm half German.) ;-) Negative stereotypes, however, regardless of how often you think you see them coming true, are not only uncharitable, they're rather pointless and only hinder you from actually knowing someone.

Anyway, I'm glad Germany was able to put such a great showing of hospitality, friendliness, and yes, organization. They've done a lot to get past their somewhat recent history; now maybe everyone else can do the same in their preconceived ideas about them.

Said Britain's Times newspaper,

"Never mind the final, Germans are the real World Cup winners."

And this despite the temptations to despair and depression that preceded the Cup. A great line from the article:

It seems the only people who had any concerns ahead of the World Cup were the hosts themselves. In fact, capital-A "Angst" dominated the run-up to the tournament. Not just the normal jitters any organizer would have, but deep, ponderous Angst. The German kind.

Hm. Speaking of stereotypes, I guess I do get that quite a bit... At least I can also be organized when I need to be. And friendly. (When I need to be.)

Herzlichen Glückwünsche, Deutschland!

Update: The International Herald-Tribune has this article, perhaps a better expression of what has happened, and in context of Germany's "psychological journey" since WWII.


Mir said...

i like that quote from the british paper. personally, i don't think italy deserved the win one bit. not one. did you see their play throughout? please. germany was strong and organized throughout.

anyway, nice post. i didn't mean to ramble on.

King Alfred said...

No, rambling is definitely my job as blogger, as I regularly show. :-P

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I really thought Germany could go all the way. I'm still watching re-airings of their games on cable when I can catch them. As for Italy, I'm glad my Italian friends are happy, but I'm more deeply glad for Germany. That they got third, and they're happy with it b/c they know they got something more important than football/soccer...that's awesome.

KD said...

Sorry I didn't read this post before the World Cup (which I was strongly encouraged to watch and actually enjoyed doing so); I would have been cheering for Germany. :) This is a fascinating blog! I never considered Germany in that light before; in fact, I find that I unconsciously harbored some prejudice about the country of my own. I am so glad for them now; that is really an awesome achievement.

Anyway. Have a great week, nice summer. Call the number if you think of it!

KD in RI

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