Let your flag fly
Gero Breloer/European Pressphoto Agency
As foreigners arrived for the World Cup with their
own flags and symbols, German flags also began
to appear, and suddenly were everywhere.
In World Cup Surprise, Flags Fly With German Pride
By RICHARD BERNSTEIN
Published: June 18, 2006
BERLIN, June 17 — It is everywhere, hanging from windows, sticking out from cars, forming moving seas of black, red and gold in the stadiums whenever the German team, a top contender in World Cup 2006, plays.
Jeff Z. Klein, Robert Mackey and other staff members of The Times and International Herald Tribune are tracking the world's most popular sporting event, including live match coverage.
The German flag, long weighted by the country's postwar reluctance about open displays of national pride, is flying again, an expression of exuberance as Germany plays host to the World Cup.
"When you see so many German flags flying from windows, that's a development that was long overdue, while not forgetting what happened in this country before," said Christoph Metzelder, a defender on the German team.
Indeed, the chief indicator of the national mood is that almost overnight, once the World Cup began and all those people from other countries arrived with flags and T-shirts in their national colors, it became almost mandatory, certainly desirable, to respond in kind.
Children were shown on television the other day standing under black, red and gold umbrellas; grown-ups are painting their faces in the national colors, either their whole faces or showing a discreet removable tattoo on one cheek. Even underwear is being printed with the colors of Germany.
The display of the flag is topic No. 2 in this country these days — No. 1 is the World Cup itself — talked about in editorials and on talk radio, with people calling in to say that, finally, they feel proud to be German.
This represents a change, "a cathartic moment for Germany," as one longtime foreign observer, Gary Smith, director of the American Academy in Berlin, put it.
For most of the years since World War II, the Germans have not really been sure whether it was appropriate to display emblems showing that they loved their country.
For decades patriotism was associated with nationalism, and that most terrible manifestation of nationalism, blind obedience to an evil leader. If Germans loved Germany, it still seemed bad form to express that love in symbols like the flag.
"One and a half centuries after 1848, we have learned to value and show the colors of our flag as a sign of our democratic nation," the daily Die Welt editorialized after the abrupt ubiquity of the flag became a news story.
The English wave the Cross of St. George everywhere they go. Orange shirt and Dutch flags are all over the stadiums. The Germans should join in.
posted by Steve @ 1:51:00 AM