Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles, über alles in der Welt!

The professor has a three-part post on current pro-Nazi feeling in Germany.

While I'll side with the second update, on the lack of national pride across Germany, I think the first writer -- bogus though he may be -- has a point. In the bathroom of the small-town public school I attended (in Braunschweig, Brunswick, formerly one of the main cities of Germany), someone had written on the wall, "Ich bin stolz, Deutsch zu sein." That is, "I am proud to be German." Underneath it were scribbled comments to the effect of, "How could you feel that way?" and, "I am ashamed to be German," etc. Apart from a few people (presumably, the first writer), most modern Germans are of the opinion that to be proud of Germany means to think Hitler was right on.

This leads to some unfortunate consequences; If you're of the belief that German patriotism means support for the Nazi cause, and you feel that you are proud to be German for any of a number of other reasons (it's a lovely place, they're good at technology, they've got Fahrvergnügen, whatever), then you'll end up a neo-Nazi. I met and was even very good friends with some people who had been taught all their lives that pro-Germany means pro-Hitler; because they knew they were pro-Germany, and because they had been raised up with that equation, they felt that they had no choice but to be pro-Hitler. Only a few questioned the underlying assumptions about the nature of patriotism.

What has to be done is, a new generation has to be brought up believing both that Hitler was wrong and that Hitler does not define what Germany is. What might also help would be trying a new national anthem, rather than one where the first verse has to be banned because it defines Germany as "Von der Maas bis an die Memel, Von der Etsch bis an den Belt" -- yes, going well into France and otherwise quite out of the borders of modern Germany. When you can't sing your own national anthem because it demands the conquest of lands outside of your nation, well, that's not a good sign. (Yes, I'm also in favor of changing the words of that northeastern anthem -- Maryland or Maine or some such -- that included an exhortation to go fight and kill the Indians. Not changing history by pretending it never existed, but change what is sung today. Nobody's offended by the progressive title change of Agatha Christie's novel from Ten Little Niggers to Ten Little Indians to And Then There Were None, are they?)


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