Saturday, June 03, 2006

And Now For Some Real News......

The New York Times had an article in yesterday about the British Government's travel suggestions for English soccer fans travelling to Germany for the World Cup. Apparently there is some concern that the Man-U crowd might offend their hosts with lots of Third Reich references. Here are some highlights:

"It's not a joke," Charles Clarke, then the home secretary, warned at a pre-World Cup briefing earlier this spring. "It is not a comic thing to do. It is totally insulting and wrong."

That means, basically, no getting drunk and goose-stepping in a would-be humorous manner. No Nazi salutes. No shouting "Sieg Heil!" at the referees. No impromptu finger-under-the-nose Hitler mustaches.

"Doing mock Nazi salutes or fake impersonations of Hitler — that's actually against the law in Germany,"

Getting the English to refrain from obnoxious references to World War II should be easy enough. The war ended more than 60 years ago. The Germans themselves seem to have moved on.

But for some perverse reason — intellectual laziness; the tendency of British schools to teach German history through the prism of the Nazi era; a yearning for a simpler time, when Britain had an empire and a clear set of enemies — many England fans seem stubbornly unable to let go of Germany's past.

During Germany-England matches, for instance, the fans like to sing the theme from "The Dam Busters," a 1954 film about how English bombers destroyed German dams during the war. Employing accompanying hand gestures, they perform a song called "Ten German Bombers," the upshot of which is that all the airmen are shot down.

They also shout "Stand up if you won the war!" and "Two world wars and one World Cup!" at the German fans. The second is a reference to the last (and only) time England won the World Cup, in 1966.

The argument we've been having with the fans is, 'If you want to go to Germany and all you want to do is sing "The Dam Busters" and "Ten German Bombers" and the rest of it, then don't be surprised if you're not the most welcome guest at the party.

Ah, you have to love the English.


Blogger Lunchbox Willy said...


Sorry this seems a bit out of time, but I'm catching up on some reading.

After spending some time in Europe, there were a few details of European life that one can only truly grasp after having been there. First off is the fanatacism about football (soccer). We as Americans have NO quality that even comes close. Another is the way Europeans view their history and relationships with other countries. It's hard to explain, but believe me, it borders on jingoism, and they view events such as WWII as events that occured last week. Lastly, for now, is the way Germans deal with WWII; did you know that they outlaw, outLAW thought and deed regarding the Nazis and other WWII references. We'll have a great time discussing this the next time we're tipping elbows! Billy

10:11 AM  
Blogger Unconscionable said...

I have noted the this thing in Europe. I onetime spent an evening in a youth hostel in Corwall with a Australian and a Frenchman. After listening to the French guy expound on why France is so great and America is so mediocre I asked him if he spoke German and if not who did he have to thank for that.

He didn't like that.

7:27 PM  

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