World Cup open thread
Drunk, loud and stupid, but the war is over.
At World Cup, No More World War for British and Germans
By RICHARD BERNSTEIN
Published: July 1, 2006
BERLIN, June 28 — World War II, which, of course, officially ended six decades ago, seems in a way to be finally over as the World Cup unfolds in Germany and the English and Germans are full of praise for each other.
It was only a few weeks ago as the World Cup neared that British officials were issuing stern warnings to Germany-bound English fans against mocking the Germans by giving Nazi salutes, goose stepping, and so forth.
And it does not seem so long ago that the 1996 European Championship was being played in Britain, and the English tabloids printed pictures of tanks and Nazi helmets and headlines like "Let's Blitz Fritz!"
There have been almost no serious examples of that sort of thing this time, just as there has been relatively little of the British hooliganism that some were predicting a few weeks ago would be a common danger to German lives and property.
Instead, there have been scenes like the one described the other day by the newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, after a melee in which some 300 English fans in Stuttgart were taken into custody, and there were some fights between English and German fans. "What the headlines missed was the gigantic party only a hundred meters away, where fans from the island were partying peacefully with Germans," the paper reported.
Then there was the account, received by the British Embassy in Berlin a few days ago, about a group of English fans who set out to burn the German flag until some other English fans stopped them.
"If Germany were a woman, England would be her late admirer," the newspaper Bild Zeitung's British correspondent wrote this week, characterizing the view of Germany filtering back to England, "someone who, out of ignorance, nearly let this beauty slip through the net."
According to The Sunday Times, which used the words "young, lively, anarchic and brilliant" to describe Germany: "It seems as though the British suddenly want to make up for all the nasty slander of the past."
The new, informal British-German treaty of peace and friendship is all part of the good mood in Germany as the World Cup unfolds, a mood that is part relief that none the potentially diplomacy-shaking bad things — hooliganism, terror attacks, infuriating security precautions, mammoth traffic jams — have taken place on a wide scale, at least not yet.
But when it comes to Germany and Britain, of course, one is talking not only about a history of devastating wars that find a way of being refought over and over in the newspapers and in popular opinion, but also one of the fiercest soccer rivalries on the planet.
"The British press has to be here, and they are confronted with reality," Cornelia Naumann, program director of the British-German Society in Berlin, said. "That's the basic point. When you are far away you can project so many of your stereotypes on another country or person and there's no reality test. Now there is a test and the Germans are doing quite well," she added.
posted by Steve @ 1:35:00 AM