Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Germans

It must be said that the Germans didn't invent facism, but they certainly honed it into a typically Aryan well-oiled machine.

The sad thing about Germany is that they are best known and loved throughout the world for democratically electing a mad little Austrian. Furthermore, he said he'd build them up to be the world's greatest nation (and before we get smug, every country on Earth thinks they're worthy of that honour). Adolf added that to do so, he'd dismantle their democracy and lead them himself, no more elections, no more freedom of speech. And their response? 'Ja, bitte!'

It's a shame really, as they're not a bad bunch today, discounting the skinheads and neo-nazis, natch. I recall a news report here in Britain a few years ago where a young teenage German lad was crying his eyes out because the locals had hurled eggs at their tourbus. I remember thinking that some English kid in Berlin was unlikely to respond the same way, firstly because Germans are unlikely to throw unfertilised chicken ovums at foreign tourbuses (maybe), and secondly because the average British teenager will take a lifetime to master their own language, let alone speak fluently in another.

Prior to the first World War, the Germans were our Protestant kith and kin. The royal family were, and still are, Krauts. In language terms, Old English has its roots in the West Germanic language, which is related to Old Norse and, by extension, to modern Icelandic, which I find strangely fascinating. Slightly.

Germans do have a sense of humour, though it is not widely documented. Fart and nob gags abound, which is ironically the basis of all English humour. The Royal family, for example, are supposed to be left in a state of hysterics if they overhear someone pass wind. This is a very clear indicator that they have always been German, despite switching names from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor during WWI, when an anti-German frenzy in Britain saw German Shepherds turn into Alsatians. The Australians did likewise with their placenames. My favourite has to be the switch from Kaiserstuhl to Mount Kitchener which in fairness sounds like an over-excitable command to do something objectionable to Britain's then Secretary of State for War. See also Digger History for more geekiness.

Kitchener was also known as Kitchener of Khartoum, who helped nick lots of countries and got lots of Brits and huge swathes of colonials killed by getting their "Brains blown out for Britain" [© Blackadder]. Here's a great picture of Kitchener looking serious in a fez. (Disturbingly, he would've been around 27 when that rendering was etched.) But I'm digressing. Back to the Bosch bash.

Germany just ain't that bad anymore. After all, following the big double-U double-U Eye Eye, the Germans could be as surly as the French and they wouldn't even come close to the 'old' them. I visited Berlin for my 30th. (It would've been Israel but my mates were chicken). I found it to be rather pleasant. Not the greatest holiday ever, but a clean country, efficient trains (of course), and pleasant people. There's a stereotype in Britain that under that polite modern German exterior beats the raging heart of a homicidal racist maniac. But not from what I've found. And the women do shave their pits, which was a shock to discover.

Yes, Germany is as liberal as the rest of us. Seig... Hooray!

Pros: Nice now. Excellent beer. Trains that run on time. Franke Potente. Ruthlessly clinical porn.
Cons: Very very bad once. The language of mass murder. Quite unpleasant to Turks now. Latant extreme facism.

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