Dienstag, 6. Oktober 2015

Strange German Holidays #7 - German Unity Day

In the beginning of the year, I introduced a format here called Strage German Holidays. I didn't post under this title for a few months, so maybe you think I have all forgotten about it, but allas, I have not - we just don't have a single public holiday between June and October. Not sure why, but it's a bit annoying (of course it wasn't when I was still in school and hat 6 weeks of summer break). Anyway, last weekend, there were even two holidays, so I'm going to post about one now and the other one later.

October 3rd is German Unity Day, our national holiday. It's celebrated in honour of the German reunification in 1990. Or rather, it should be celebrated, but it is not - I've actually never heard of anyone actually doing something for the day. It's a day off work, and in years like this one where it falls on a Saturday, it's utterly useless for lots of people. There was even a notion to move it to a Sunday all together, but thankfully that didn't go through.

If you came here for a fun post and some facts, this is where you should stop reading. The next few paragraphs is just me ranting about politics, history and some things I meant to get off my cheast for quite some time.

I think it's a general problem of patriotism, or rather, a lack thereoff. Germans are not allowed to be proud of their country. A few years back, a politician was heavyly critizied (and I think he had to do a big apology in the end) for publicly announcing that he was proud to be a German. People would claim that nationality is only a a coincidence, not something you achieved, so there is no reason to be proud of it. Yet people all around the world are happyly claiming their pride to be American, French, Canadian or whatever, and everone thinks that's okay. And I think it is, national pride can and should be a part of our identity, of the values and traditions we were raised with. But Germany is deeply scarred, and the only time we are aloud to feel proud of who we are and to openly show our colours is during the football WM (which none of us achieved personally as well!)

But Germany is so much more than playing football and 12 years of gruesome war. We were a nation to be proud of long before that successless Austrian painter claimed our heritage, our values for himself. Yes, we had Göring and Goebbels and all the others that brought unspeakable pain over countless of human beings. But we also had Goethe and Schiller, Bach and Beethoven, Gutenberg and Luther, Einstein and Koch.

People say we must never forget what happened, what our people has done in that dark time of the thrd reich, or else it might happen again. I say we also must never forget those times we were great, so that they CAN happan again - if we remember both, the choice, the future, is in our hands. We must not forget the past, but we can't be crippled by it either. A while back, a book was published in Germany that became quite popular - it's the story of Hitler suddenly waking up in the middle of Berlin, right now in the 21st century. I've read it a few weeks back, and it really isn't that great - no hidden jewel of literature, but it is still a fun read. And I'm pretty sure that is why it got so popular in the first place: it's a book about Hitler, and it is FUN. What's more, it's only fun if you know your history - lot's of the jokes involve dates, places and persons you only know if you learned about the third reich in detail (which should be the case for all Germans as we cover the subject extensively in school, but of course there are always some who never pay attention). And I think that's the way one should deal with things - educate yourself, then laugh at them. Things that scare you controll you - and I don't want to be controlled by the Holocaust. I don't want to be controlled by Hitler. I want to laugh him in the face and yell 'You don't have any power here anymore' - because that's what happens in the book. He tries to win over people again, to gather followers (by means of some obscure TV show) - and everyone thinks he's just a joke, using his Hitler-act as a means to overact, over-draw certain opinions and actually say the opposite. And I believe - want to believe - that is true - that Germany today is in a state were most people wouldn't take these ideas serious anymore. Were even the thought of something like WWII, like the third reich happening again is so unbelievable, that people laugh at it. I hope we will reach that point some day.

A while back, there was a contest going on in the Stitching Pirate dA group with the topic of Countries and 'show your colours'. I actually had a few ideas myself, but in the end I caved, I was scared to be branded as a nazi. I am not a nazi. But I believe in Germany, I believe that this country is great and can be even greater - not by military power, but by brilliance, and kindness, and creativity. I also believe in the values our hymn announces: Unity, and Right, and Freedom. And even if noone dares to celebrate it yet, in my heart, that's what this day is about.

Thanks for your attention, and I hope I haven't scared anyone off now. Fun posts with pretty pictures and silly facts will resume soon, I promise :)

Kommentare:

  1. Don't be scared embrace it! Maybe that's just the American in me but I see no reason to not have pride in where you live. I often post things on my blog I'm afraid will scare people off but it's mine and I'll post what I want! I would love to visit Germany some day. And my Jewish hubby would too so it can't be that bad ;). There are a few countries I want to see first but germany is drfinitrly up there. Now I just have to find the money...

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    1. Haha yeah, I think Americans might be the complete opposite of Germans in this matter. If you and your husband actually get to visit Germany some day, please let me know, if you happen to stay anywhere nearby I'd be happy to show you around for a bit ^_^

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  2. Individuals living in glass houses should not point fingers. Every country has something in their history they are (or should be) ashamed of. So I find it ridiculous that an entire new generation should suffer under the stigma of those that came before them. By the way, we always route for Germany in the world cup ;)

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    1. You're right, but on the other hand, I think Germans themselves are placing that blame on us much more than anyone from outside does. I've never had any rude remarks from anyone on the internet when I mentioned I'm from Germany, for example.

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  3. That is a very articulate and well thought out rant, good job

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad it didn't turn out annoying :)

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  4. Great post. You should be able to be proud of your country and you should be. You have a female leader, something neither Canada or the US has been able to have for long or at all. I don't count the interim Kim Martin in Canada, that was almost the shortest time a PM has been in office in history. My cousin lives there with her family and has for years and loves it. We would never consider labeling any of them. You forgot one of my favourite composers, Wagner! But you have so many to name. :)

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    1. Thanks! You're right, Angie sure is another thing to be proud of. She's had to deal with a a lot of criticism lately, but I think with all the disasters and crisis happening lately, she's doing a good job overall.
      Do you know in what region exactly your cousin lives?
      You're right about Wagner too, of course! I loved Rheingold when we went to the opera with school. But there are so many great componists to mention, like Brahms, Händel, Schuman...so I decided to go for the alliteration Beethoven/Bach! :D

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  5. Another great post, you are so right to be proud of your country. As D1 said, every country has something to be ashamed of. Our great British Empire wasn't all that great for the countries we conquered was it? As for America and their slavery!
    The biggest issue we have in England right now is that far right have hijacked the flags and if you display either a Union flag or a St. George Cross you are in danger of being mistaken for a bigot.
    I was in Berlin for the Roger Waters performance of The Wall and met some lovely East Germans who were so excited to meet English rock fans. They asked us what some of the lyrics meant and we had to tell them that not even English natives really understand the whole album!! We helped them with a lot of it though.

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  6. Such fresh history does need time, but I too am hopeful that the good people in Germany today can achieve national pride. I very much wish you and I had that conversation prior to the Show Your Colors contest as it may have helped me to re-word the theme enough to get people out of their shells. EVERY country has it's history, but it is still a shame that Germany continues to try and quietly move onward hoping to not have anything bad said about it...except for futbol...THAT seems to be the exception...Be proud of your black/red/yellow flag!

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