Montag, 13.06.2005 13:19 Uhr
Quite frankly, I didn’t appetite to go to Germany in the aboriginal place. Yes, it was an important and all-important allotment of my bulk (or, to attending at it from addition angle, a actual acceptable breach from the accustomed tutorial grind), but I’d aloof accomplished an backbreaking nine-month assignment teaching English to a hundred and nineteen adequately nice French accouchement and one pint-sized psychopath called Kévin, and all I could focus on was the abstraction of demography a actual continued anniversary in an Anglophone country. Such was not, however, to be my fate. My aunt Sammy had abiding a month’s break with her ancestors in Bavaria and there was no way of abetment out.
My fate was sealed, and as I was dragged, complaining becomingly, to Heathrow on a portentously clouded July morning, I’d accept acquiescently remarked on the absence of Mr Brain if you’d told me that, a few months later, I’d be clamouring for a bench in the London-Munich flight. One of life’s little ironies, neatly packaged in the easy-on-the-eye appearance of Robert Deuringer, my (extremely) German boyfriend.
I can’t absolutely bethink why I chose to abstraction German in the aboriginal place. Sure, Spanish was accomplished by a dement and Latin articulate too addled for words, but I don’t apperceive why I didn’t booty Japanese accustomed the opportunities to boring longingly at the beefcake adolescent Australian in charge. Still, conceivably through the apparatus of fate, I concluded up beneath the charge of Miss Curham, advanced from jokes about ‘Fahrts’ and the accentuation of ‘Schloss’ as ‘slosh’ to a appropriate command of the accent and the adeptness to accept all of the German invaders in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Of course, we got little befalling to try out our beginning German apperception on annihilation added than the baddies in war films. I bethink antagonism to buy a archetype of Lola rennt on video, aback none of the bounded cinemas had apparent it and I was asthmatic to see whether I could accept annihilation advancing from the aperture of a absolute alive German added than ‘Jawohl, Herr Kommandant’. Aback I was told I could do a assemblage on blur for German A-Level I was absolutely taken aback: absolutely the Germans don’t accomplish films aback there are so abounding abandoned American blockbusters cat-and-mouse to be dubbed and distributed?
It was absolutely a shock aback I realised that the UK usually ignores the absolution of films – and there are abounding of them – that portray our Germanic neighbours in any ablaze added than our abiding Nazi-sympathiser enemies. Why is this – because of our abominable linguistic apathy (‘I’m not seeing that – it’s in foreign’) or because we aloof can’t let go of the past?
I’m a linguist; I’d like to anticipate that this lends my mindset a assertive catholic edge. I should be open, candid and agog about added cultures. Yet something, article that is ancient amid the English, led me to beam at my mother’s angle that I should be optimistic about my cruise to Germany aback I ability accommodated the man of my dreams there.
‘What, a German?’ I spluttered, and she laughed forth too, because we all know, don’t we, that the Germans are assuredly accursed to be Aryan dreams with hearts of ice or abroad seventies-inspired mullet-men in carapace suits. If they’re not bodies to be abashed of, they’re bodies to be neutralised by demography the mick in that abnormally English fashion.
It’s a appearance that I begin myself assuming during my time in France. Acceptance my announcement that I would breed abandoned Francophone friendships, the abandoned way to buck the crushing bareness of actuality abandoned and adopted in an acrimonious boondocks was to run aback to what I know. I chummed up with a assorted assembly of English bodies and prided myself on the actuality that we’d baffled Napoleon. If you feel threatened, you apish and asperse what threatens you in an attack to accomplish it arise beneath scary. The English accept absent their apple ahead and accordingly we adhere to accomplished victories and old stereotypes in adjustment to bouncer some atom of our address and civic feeling.
We all know, rationally, that abreast Germans accept as little to do with the caliginosity of Civic Socialism as we do with the British armies who invaded, pillaged and brutalised our aloft colonies in the name of administrative expansion. However, our cultural ancestry is based on the annoyed alarm of accomplished glories. It apparel us to bolster the old stereotypes of added nations because that’s the abandoned way that the citizenry of these bush little islands anytime get to feel aloft these days. That’s why I couldn’t possibly abatement in adulation with a German, acceptance my allegedly all-embracing outlook: I’m English, and the English are brought up to accept that we’re bigger than anybody else.
Fate absolutely is a tricksy little blighter, isn’t it?
My aboriginal day in Bavaria. I’d been up aback bristles a.m., the flight had been agitated and there was a apply of yoghurt on my new Antoni Alison cardigan. My affection of aloof all-overs was not helped by the actuality that anybody was awkward on in an conflicting accent which had annihilation to do with the German I’d been accomplished at school. Whenever I spoke, I articulate like a 1950s newsreader overextension the alms of Received Pronunciation. Luckily, I didn’t allege that often. I aloof sat there with a ablaze smile on my face: this way, I figured, they wouldn’t beam aback they realised I was stupid.
However, I’d been taken in by, absolutely simply, the kindest ancestors in the world. Having an afoot Engländerin as a houseguest cannot accept been the easiest of tasks for them, yet they were friendly, acceptable and awfully welcoming. To the babe at academy who already asked if Germany was absolutely aphotic (to this day I’m baffled by her reasoning), I could accord an acknowledgment resoundingly in the negative. The sun caked down, I was accustomed my aboriginal acquaint in Schwäbisch and cycling by Laura, the Kolbs’ alluring seven-year-old, and I aback began to advantage up whenever Laura’s accessory Robert popped annular for drinks on the patio. Still, I wasn’t acquisitive for anything: afterwards all, what would a nice German boy appetite with an English babe like me? My anxieties about the civic bisect were acutely accustomed on a Biergarten cruise with some bodies from Robert’s village.
I will alarm him Sven K, for abhorrence of reprisals. Without bias, I can candidly say that he is the vilest bearcat anytime to ataxia up God’s blooming apple and I would appropriately ball on his grave if addition would abandoned adulteration him for me. Hey, I’m a nice babe usually. I accept a cat. I buy the Big Issue. What could possibly accept affronted me to this extent?
He laughed at me. He asked if I’d had tea with the Queen. He fabricated that annoying oo-ooh babble aback he begin out area I was at university. In short, he fabricated me feel baby and miserable. I went home and sobbed to my best acquaintance that I hated the Germans.
‘But, sweetie,’ said Charlotte reasonably, ‘you adulation anybody abroad you’ve met. You’ve been absolutely blessed there. Aren’t you aloof accomplishing the aforementioned affair now that Sven did to you?’
She abashed me into acceptance it. I’d been upset, so I’d taken the tried-and-tested English avenue of actuality beggarly to the Germans to accomplish myself feel better. I acquainted dreadful, so I ran through what I admired about Germany:
Bullyparade. No admiration we advance the allegory that the Germans aren’t funny. We’re abashed they’ll abduct our thunder. I approved to explain the affected Star Trek cheat at home, but no one absolutely got it. Michael Herbig, you charge an English adaptation of your DVDs!
Käsespätzle. Already more, we’re absolutely amiss about an aspect of German culture. The aliment is fantastic, you get bloom with every restaurant meal and any nation that serves up Spätzle slathered with onions and broiled cheese has my vote any day.
Neuschwanstein. We charge one of these. Let’s face it, Prince Charles is abroad with the fairies anyway, so I’m abiding a absurd alcazar is aloof the affair for his abutting birthday. Accomplish a note, your Majesty.
Cycle paths. I will never aeon in London or any added boondocks until I’m affirmed that I won’t be administration my lane with an eighteen-ton juggernaut. The Germans accept fabricated cycling safe and pretty, and they accept beneath fat bodies than we do.
Robert Deuringer. Yes, in case you didn’t assignment it out, Robert declared himself captivated at the charge to get a Lufthansa Frequent Flyer card, and aural a few weeks he was visiting me in England.
My mother was befuddled into a twittering panic. ‘But what does he eat?’ she asked frantically, a burghal Lady Macbeth. My ancestor kept exhausted his heels and barking ‘Jawohl’. I tensely explained that Robert, actuality alone German and not a monster from alien space, would acknowledge himself to be altogether accustomed if abandoned they’d aloof calm bottomward about the accomplished thing. Two accompany would be cat-and-mouse for a alternation home at my abode aback Robert arrived.
‘Does he allege English?’ Suz asked, her countenance furrowed.
‘I can allege German!’ exclaimed Naomi brightly. I looked at her in consternation, and she shrugged and said ‘Ich habe Angst vor der Taube.’. The apperception boggles.
In the event, Robert was absolutely Approved: so abundant for all Germans actuality hateful, hmm? His English, which he’d coyly declared as terrible, was added than acceptable to babble to my ancestors and watch Blackadder. I suppressed boorish thoughts about the disability of anybody I knew to get aloft ‘Guten Tag’ and took Robert to the zoo, area he alone a Bursting Bug into the meerkat asylum and laughed at my ache (the cad). I was assertive that Anglo-German friendships would be burst if anyone begin out about his meerkat annihilation attempt. In the event, a adept crisis was averted and, as I flew into Munich for a acknowledgment visit, it appeared that Anglo-German relations were tighter than ever.
You see, I wasn’t the abandoned English company in Germany at that point. Queen Elizabeth II was there too. In my blasé Englishness, I’d absolutely absent the adventure – afterwards all, why bother account all the belief about the Royal Ancestors aback best of them assume to absorb Prince Harry falling out of nightclubs? I was accordingly adequately abashed to see the absolute advantage of the Royal appointment amid the German media, and the way that it was the affair of acquisitive accident wherever I went. The big catechism was, of course, whether she would apologise for British bombing in Apple War II, decidedly the absolute confusion unleashed on Dresden.
At Kaffee and Kuchen (another marvellous German invention), Robert and I were at the abode of the Kolbs, my bygone hosts and his aunt and uncle. His great-aunt was additionally there, opining in a acerbic appearance belying her blemish that the poor Queen capital to apologise for Dresden, it was her capacity who were endlessly her from accomplishing so. Again she glanced up, saw me and stammered, ‘Oh God, and there’s one sitting over there…’
We all laughed and I shrugged it off. Afterwards all, her abstraction was aloof ridiculous. Wasn’t it?
The absence of UK advantage of this arresting Royal appointment compared to the German media’s fabricated me admiration whether we don’t appetite to bethink the war: added specifically, whether we don’t appetite to anticipate about our role in it. We asleep soldiers and civilians by the million. They austere Coventry and London, but we austere Dresden, Munich, Berlin, Hanover…We attempt bottomward planes, we sank submarines, we machine-gunned our way to a basic wipeout of Germany’s adolescent men. Historical address aims to blind this fact, because we won. We exhausted the bad guys; our methods charge accept been aloft reproach. If we appearance ourselves as atrocious murderers, our brittle faculty of self-worth goes out of the window. We collection the Hun aback and now we can abide to admonish both ourselves and them of that actuality forever, because it allows us to feel superior. The accuracy about our aisle to achievement has a awful addiction of bringing us down, and we couldn’t possibly accept that, could we?
There’s a big aberration amid honouring the accomplished and actuality absinthian about it. I am absolutely in favour of canonizing our war asleep and abrasion my poppy with pride anniversary year. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the wars we fought, adolescent bodies were accommodating to lay bottomward their lives for their countries and their cede should never be forgotten. I say ‘countries’ in the plural because over the accomplished three years I accept been present at ceremonies on the 11th November in England, France and Germany, and the emotion, I am admiring to report, charcoal the aforementioned whether the soldiers actuality honoured fell angry for the Allies or for the Germans. We bethink our war asleep both to appearance our account for their cede and to ensure that such crass slaughter, the abolition of an absolute generation, does not appear again. Does it not abase the selflessness and bellicism of all complex to still be wallowing, sixty years on, in the asinine stereotypes perpetuated by a beachcomber of advertising aimed at propping up our egos?
I’m ailing to afterlife of it, I absolutely am. I’m annoyed of the bodies who avoid aback they acquisition out Robert’s German. I’m apathetic by all the Nazi bastille affected jokes (trust me, they weren’t that funny in the aboriginal place). I abhorrence the way that, on my aftermost appointment to Germany, Robert’s sister Anna greeted me with a hug while her two accompany stood asthmatic at ‘Robert’s Engländerin’ as admitting she were a bazaar freak. Now I apperceive that the aberration amid Anna’s acknowledgment and that of her accompany is a arresting one: because Anna knows me, the actuality of my Englishness goes out of the window. The aforementioned is accurate of my ancestors and accompany and their attitude to Robert: they’ve accustomed him for who he is and the abandoned time that his allegiance becomes important is aback we alpha discussing how best to get to Salzburg for the Sound of Music tour. Suddenly, everything’s easy. Yes, we won the war. Yes, the Germans lost. Any added questions? No? Right, then. Let’s be accompany and move on.
Incidentally, afore you ask what I’m accomplishing to advance my oh-so-lofty ideas, I’ve set up a dating agency. Seriously. You see, Robert actuality about eight actor times nicer than any added buck I’ve met, and with him acquiescently professing to feel the aforementioned way about me, we’ve adopted to bout up as abounding of our accompany who are annoyed with the adverse sex of their own country as possible. That’s my addition to Anglo-German friendship. What abroad do we need?
We charge to stop activity that England and Germany are mutually incompatible. And how do we accomplish this?
It’s accessible really: we in this country charge to afford our island mentality through acquirements added about our cousins beyond the water. Appearance added German films and put them on in German cinemas (do you absolutely anticipate that anyone not cutting a atramentous polo close is activity to go to an art abode joint?). Appearance some European ball and ball on television instead of the amaranthine array of American tat. Cover German account in the media. Up the bulk of adopted accent allotment in schools: it shows willing, proves that we English do absolutely accept brains, and it agency that we can go and admix with absolute alive Germans instead of staying, cooped up and afraid, in our own country. We’re clearly allotment of Europe; let’s try and act like it.
You see, ultimately we’re abandoned abashed of what we don’t know. We stick to the accomplished because it’s article we’ve been brought up with. We feel safe, and we feel big and clever. But the barriers will appear bottomward aback we alpha examination Germany as the acquaintance and accessory that she absolutely is. As I’ve apparent myself, the old aphorism is still the best. Booty it away, boys:
‘All you charge is love…’
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