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German Politicians Hail New Patriotism

DW staff (jam)June 18, 2006

The self-confidence shown by Germans at the World Cup is an expression of a new and healthy patriotism, according to several politicians. The Catholic Church has welcomed a "commitment to our country."

These colors don't make as many people uncomfortable as they used toImage: AP

German President Horst Köhler said on Sunday the nation's newfound pride in its flag sparked by its success in the World Cup was a sign it was "returning to normal" after decades of shame over its Nazi past. The president said he did not think the new enthusiasm shown by Germans about their country was a prelude to nationalism.

"For me this is something beautiful ... a sign that the country is increasingly returning to normal, that one can show uninhibited pride in your national flag and drape yourself in it," he said in a radio interview.

Horst Köhler
Horst KöhlerImage: dpa

Since the World Cup kicked off in Germany on June 9, the black, red and yellow of the national standard has been displayed across the country after decades when overt displays of patriotism were frowned upon.

Germans are flying the flag from cars and balconies and football fans are dressing themselves in the national colours and heartily chanting "Deutschland" following two victories in the host nation's first two games.

President Köhler said he believed Germans were also showing "that they are happy that we are hosting the World Cup."

Some commentators said nothing of the kind has been seen since German reunification in 1990.

Self-confidence is positive

Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told the newspaper Die Zeit that it was good that people were not immediately put off by the German national colors anymore.

"Only notorious grouches say they don't welcome it," he said.

Maria Böhmer, Christian Democratic politician and Germany's integration commissioner, told the newspaper Tagesspiel am Sonntag that the behavior of Germans at the World Cup is the expression of a new, relaxed patriotism. The country is "in a phase in which young people are more self-confident" about being German.

"It's a joyful sign," she added.

Fußball, WM 2006, Deutschland Fans
German fans wearing the colorsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Some on the left also welcomed the change of attitude, including the head of the Green Party's parliamentary group, Renate Künast, who said the German flag had become a sign to the country's World Cup guests saying: "Come over, we'll show you how nice Germany can be."

Team happy, and church too

The German players and coach Jürgen Klinsmann have said they are thrilled with the way the country has rallied behind them. Germany will finish top in their first-round group if they beat Ecuador in Berlin on Tuesday.

There has been a call from some politicians for the national flag to be hoisted on all public buildings to encourage the team. "All of Berlin should become a sea of black, red and gold," Frank Henkel from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats told the newspaper Bild.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, chairman of the German Catholic Bishop's Conference, added his voice to the positive assessments, telling Focus magazine that he welcomed the "commitment of many people to our country."

He added, however, that keeping that spirit alive after the World Cup is over, the guests have gone home and the stadiums are empty could be difficult.