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Anorak | Keep Mentioning The War: German Thomas Hüetlin On Beckhams And Britishers

Keep Mentioning The War: German Thomas Hüetlin On Beckhams And Britishers

by | 15th, May 2007

germans.pngDEUTSCHLAND (“Ze Germans”)… Nein points. (“Nein! Nein! Nein!”)

If Eurovision voting is a barometer of national alliances, then the UK giving the Germans no points is a sign of lingering hatreds.

Of course, it could mean the British have grown-up and focus only on the music. But this theory is undone by the UK’s awarding of 12 points to Lithuania’s 4FUN and their ditty Love Or Leave

“Weak and unwise/ I betray all fears/ that I should disguise/ melting in your arms/ I fail to realise/ why the mornings always change the colour of your eyes”

Likes And Dislikes

So dislike it is. Thomas Hüetlin, the recently installed London correspondent of Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, has been considering the British view of his countrymen.

In an article entitled “Huns, Miele and Hitler”, Hüetlin tries to sum up how the British see the Germans. The article is equipped with a, perhaps, whimsical picture of Prince Harry dressed as Nazi.

And these, mind, the Germans who make an effort to be our friends by giving Scooch one point in Eurovision.

prince-harry-nazi.jpgBritish readers may read much into this. They may argue that the Germans yearn to be liked. And how this aching heart only makes them easier to mock. When Germans behave in stereotypical fashion, enthusiastically engaging in group activity, and building cracking dishwashers, we are unconcerned. We are impressed at their unity and idealism, even.

But when they express a desire to be understood, to be liked, to apologise for past wrongs over and be just like us, we grow suspicious. What British football fan has not seen his side take on the Germans and laughed as the enemy sing “Über Alles” and then felt their blood chill a little as the Germans move on to sing in English about “football coming home”?

Vorsprung Durch Beckham

So here’s Hüetlin getting prickly about life over here. Says he: “The Huns, that’s us, the Germans… And the animosity against us is folkloristic fun as traditional to the island [Britain] as driving on the left or holding the opinion that Victoria Beckham is a woman of class.”

Is that a dig at the British, using Sticky Vicky as a stick-thin cosh? Hüetlin fails to realise that only the mad among us consider the Beckham woman to be anything more than an amusing oddity. If we want to see class we look to the Royals, or the Germans, as some of us call them.

And this is not the first time the Germans have sought to attack us through the Beckhams. Last year, German tabloid newspaper Bild described Day-vid’s sister as “Fat-ham” and his mother as having the “smile of a peasant”.

Back then we read: “Dear me, is she chubby. Arms, bust, bum, all very British. Joanne is the sort of girl who drinks sangria on the beach in Majorca. And then dances on a table with her top off.

Sock It To Them

As the Independent reports (“A Berliner on Britain: don’t mention the beer”), Hüetlin goes to some lengths to explain “why the English cannot stand the Germans – even 62 years after the end of the war”.

Well, it might be because they don’t get the joke.

hitler-large.gifTake Hüetlin’s passage on what the British are: “The drinking of very much beer in a very short time, going for a walk without socks in winter, the delusion that 42 years after its last win, the national soccer team belongs to a world elite – and, of course, the fact that the Hun is still enemy No 1 – even in the age of Osama bin Laden.”

He’s almost nailed it. But the fear is that the writer intends to his words as humorous. No Britisher thinks Ing-er-land is any good at football, much less Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (Britain boasts four disappointing national football teams). Indeed, many among us take pleasure in the lads being devoid of direction, talent, creativity and purpose. We also miss penalties. Against Germans. Unfunny Germans.

The cultural reference on socks is an oddity. As is going for a walk in winter? Is this an attempt to embrace the British in the Ministry of Funny Walks? Germans have the goosestep. We have no socks.

We have one point. They have none…



Posted: 15th, May 2007 | In: Reviews Comments (9) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink