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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Jun-06
Are Germans now proud to be Germans?

Web Log - June, 2006

Are Germans now proud to be Germans?

World Cup euphoria may be making the difference.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the most fascinating things are large changes in attitudes or behavior by large masses of people. The attitudes of politicians are endlessly fascinating to journalists and pundits, but fairly useless in telling us what's going on in the world. But when an entire population changes its attitude about something, it almost always has a major generational significance, and it almost signals that the world is about to change significantly.

But this change is remarkable enough that even the journalists are noticing it.

Official German Flag and colors -- black, red and gold
Official German Flag and colors -- black, red and gold

For the first time in decades, Germans are being openly patriotic again. German flags are flying all over the place, around the sites of the World Cup (soccer) games. Germans are even openly singing their national anthem again -- at least the third verse, since the other first two verses were banned after World War II.

This is a dramatic change. For almost 60 years, since the end of World War II, the German people have been associated around the world with Hitler and with Auschwitz and other concentration camps, where Jews were exterminated.

The time is right for a change, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics. Like every nation that fought in WW II as a crisis war, the German population is finally losing the generations of people who lived through that war. Even today's senior leaders were, for the most part, in the generational born after the war, meaning that they could not have fought in the Nazi army, could not even been part of the Nazi youth.

It's easier to be a patriotic German when the sins of the past can really be placed firmly in the past, and that's what's happening.

However, it's important to note that the change in public opinion is still ongoing.

It was just a month ago that we discussed a new poll that described a different change in public opinion: that Germans believe "clash of civilizations" with Muslims is coming. So it remains to be seen how increased German patriotism and changing German attitudes towards Muslims will combine to form a merged world view.

Both the German flag and the German national anthem have had turbulent histories.

The modern German flag, shown above, was created in 1848, at a time when the united nation of Germany was just being formed. The colors represented the unity of the Germans: the black of Prussia, the red of Austria and the gold representing the other states.

German flag with Nazi Swastika adopted by Hitler
German flag with Nazi Swastika adopted by Hitler

However, when Hitler came to power he adopted a different flag, the Nazi Swastika. When the war ended, the earlier flag was re-adopted.

The melody of the German national anthem was originally composed by Franz Joseph Haydn in 1797, and put to words in 1841, to create "Das Lied der Deutschen."

The anthem has three verses.

The first verse celebrates the unification of Germany, as it was contemplated in the mid 1800s. It begins "Germany, Germany above all, above everything in the world," and talks about Germans standing together to protect one another.

This verse was adopted by Hitler as an official Nazi anthem. The concept of German unity for mutual protection suddenly was reinterpreted as a desire for German conquest of the world.

So, in 1952, the first verse was officially removed from the German national anthem.

The second verse is a sweet homage to "German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song." It's a tribute to German life and German values in a unified Germany, but because it seemed almost humorous in 1952, the second verse was also banned from the national anthem.

Today the official anthem consists of the third verse and only the third verse, which begins "Unity and law and freedom for the German Fatherland." Finally, there's a verse that made sense in the mid 1800s in the context of a desire for German unity, and also made sense in the mid 1900s in the context of a desire to end war and replace it with freedom and the rule of law.

Here are the three verses of the original German national anthem, and their literal English translation:

Das Lied der Deutschen Song of the Germans
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält,
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt -
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt.
Germany, Germany above all,
Above everything in the world,
When always, for protection,
We stand together as brothers.
From the Maas to the Memel
From the Etsch to the Belt -
Germany, Germany above all
Above all in the world.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song,
Shall retain in the world,
Their old lovely ring
To inspire us to noble deeds
Our whole life long.
German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song.
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland.
Unity and law and freedom
For the German Fatherland
Let us all strive for that
In brotherhood with heart and hand!
Unity and law and freedom
Are the foundation for happiness
Bloom in the glow of happiness
Bloom, German Fatherland.

The first verse of the original anthem is still controversial, and has been associated with racial attacks against foreigners.

This fact only exposes the intensity of the changes that are occurring in German attitudes and behaviors, as Germans once again are willing to say that they're proud to be Germans.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Europe is headed for another major genocidal crisis war. People who doubt this refuse to learn from history - there have been genocidal European wars for millennia, most recently in the 1940s, and there's absolutely no reason on earth to believe that it will never happen again.

In Asia, we can see China, Iran and Pakistan forming a new axis, opposing the new allies - Japan, India, Russia, and America.

But the details of the European war are still not completely clear, at least to me. As I've said before, the level of vicious animosity that the British and French hold for each other is a strong trend indication that the French and the British will be fighting each other in the next European war. But the role of Germany in such a war is still unclear. Also unclear is how this war will interact with the war between Europeans and Muslims that will occur at the same time on European soil.

All we can do at this time is watch developments, like the current change in German attitudes, and see how the trends develop. (23-Jun-06) Permanent Link
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