Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Poor Old Ostrich

I was perusing YouTube the other night and came across this video from Blackadder. I remember my Modern Britain professor showing us this episode during class (he was a big Blackadder fan). I thought I would embed this video here; it's funny, yes, but it also has a glimmer of truth in it. The point Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) makes about British and German imperialism is quite true. I wonder how many Britons actually had these thoughts back then.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Patriotism In Germany

The above picture portrays the stereotypical German woman patriotically singing the German national anthem at a World Cup competition. What is different with this picture than in any other nation where its people express their love for their country? The fact that many Germans feel somehow dirty showing their love of their country. This becomes especially true when singing the national anthem, Das Deutschlandlied.

Das Deutschlandlied, or the Germany Song, was written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841 and put to the tune of the Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser by Josef Hayden. Das Deutschlandlied became popular during the Imperial period in Germany, especially during the First World War; it was often sung by soldiers marching off to war. The opening lines Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt (Germany, Germany above all, above all in the world) has often been misinterpreted by non-Germans, and even by some Germans themselves. This is exacerbated by the Nazi Party's past use of Das Deutschlandlied. Even when the Nazis used the song, the Germans did not mean that Germany was above everything else in the world, but that the Germans placed their nation above other concerns, such as regional identification (i.e. Bavarians, Prussians, etc.).

While one can certainly understand why modern Germans are hesitant to sing their national anthem (which, by the way, consists of only the third stanza of Das Deutschlandlied), it is time for the Germans to start taking pride in their heritage, time for the Germans to be proud of what they have accomplished since their Nazi past (even though they have not yet restored the monarchy). Time to let those immortal words ring loud and clear. (Below I have embedded a video I found on YouTube of the anthem being sung against images from Germany).

(Note: This post has been renamed from its original title of "Nationalism in Germany" to better reflect my intent.)