Germans are not patriotic?

I was listening to the BBC after the match between Germany and Argentina. The reporter was describing the German fan’s celebrations and he said that the Germans for the first time are not afraid of bein patriotic and they are waving Germany flag everywhere. Now I don’t understand why he said that. Why would any one be afraid of being patriotic?

Well, if your country started two world wars within the last century, you might be wary too.

But being proud of my country is being proud of myself. And being proud of myself is no crime. On the other hand, being wary may imply covering my guiltiness.

I agree with Walloon. All of that old footage of Germans cheering on Hitler and others makes people not want to place themselves in something that looks superficially similar.

I was in Germany about 10 years ago. Patriotism as Americans know it was definitely not the norm there. Foreign politics (US and Britain particularly) dominated the news; people did not hang German flags around or have a “we’re #1” type of attitude. My perception was that patriotism - really, nationalism - was closely tied to Nazism there. People who were too pro-Germany were suspect on some level.

Patriotism is very often not just being proud of your country, it’s more often being proud of your country, for no particular reason other than that you happen to live/have been born there. Stupid reason to be proud of a place.

If you’ve actually done something worth being proud of, that’s different, but I think Walloon has a point; the extreme to which nationalism and flag-waving was taken is still pretty much burned into the German national psyche. Even if it weren’t, I could see that they might still hold back for no other reason than fear of how the watching world might misinterpret another bout of German flag-waving/nationalism.

I’m not sure why. There isn’t much in your country’s history in which you were personally involved, is there?

Nope. But you need some reason to be proud of yourself. Patriotic types generally don’t have any particular reason for being proud/patriotic. They’re just because. Just because they were born there. Which isn’t a particularily convincing motive.

It seems quite clear that patriotism is way more wisepread in the USA than in Europe where it’s often perceived as suspicious. If you display too much pride, wawe flags, whatever, a lot of people will tend to assume you’re way too nationalist, possibly a right-wing extremist or somesuch. Being patriotic isn’t “mandatory” as it sometimes seems to be in the USA, nor particularily well perceived. Accusing someone of not being patriotic won’t get you anywhere, over here. Actually, I assume many would take it as a compliment.

And Germans are particularily well-known for being ashamed of their country’s recent history, and warry about anything that could vaguely look like nationalism, foreign interventions, etc…
Normally, though, soccer is an exception, and both patriotism and flag-wawing is allowed, if not mandatory.

Don’t mean to turn this into Great Debates or anything, but I’ll have to take exception to that. I’m patriotic because I feel that my country has accomplished great things throughout its history, and is a fantastic place to live and work today as well. Sure I haven’t been personally involved in many of its events, but me and my friends and family are all part of that fabric, and proud of being so. Do you love your parents just because you were borh of them?

Obviously my country has plenty to be ashamed of as well (take your pick: slavery, war on terror, Baywatch) but just like a relative, I love it just the same. Despite all that, I think it has tremendous opportunities, social services, and freedom of expression. Maybe not the best in the world in any of those departments - or maybe so - but neither am I patriotic cause I think the US is “the best” at anything. I just feel connected to it, and grateful to it for what I’ve been able to do with my life.

Germany shot the archduke?

But they did not shoot the Deputy…:smiley:

I was in Germany a week ago. World Cup fever was already considerable (though surely much milder than it must be after today’s game). A great many German flags were on display - seemed like about half the cars had them.

I’ll bet I heard a dozen older Germans say they’d never seen anything like it. Not since the war have Germans shown anything like this level of outward pride in their country.

There are a number of reasons why ‘patriotism’ is in bad odor in Germany IMO:

  1. As I understand patriotism as understood e.g. in the US it has at least three components:
    a) a drive to advance the common good in one’s own country
    b) pride in those aspects of the common good that are already pretty well advanced
    c) to get behind one’s own country/government in real or perceived conflict with the outside

Now
a) goes under other names in Germany, e.g. Gemeinsinn or Engagement. In the 18th/19th century it often was Patriotismus (especially where there was a republican tradion e.g. in the free cities) but the understood meaning of the word has changed since - to c).
b) is a sentment that’s not highly esteemed in Germany because we are afraid of complacency - where we don’t see a problem we assume we have not found it. To call someone’s attitude towards something unkritisch (uncritical) is a severe insult - it’s to call him/her a fool, dupe or mark. Our reaction to someone saying “Well, we have licked problem A” would be “Yes, took us long enough. Now, problem B looks tough, possibly unsolvable. Take the grin off your face already.”
c) is something that’s tainted by having been whipped up by governments to get the people in line (particularly beginning in Wilhelm II’s reign - the 1890s syllabus reform put strong emphasis on patriotism to combat the rise of liberalism (in the classical/1848 sense) and socialism). That’s why a lot of people would regard c) as stupid when not thought through, and evil if thought through.

  1. Asserting the symbols of our nation to the inside just does not make sense - there is nothing to assert them against. Waving the black, red and gold in 1848 made sense - it was directed against princes and particularism (Kleinstaaterei), for liberalism and unity (Berlin barricade, March 1848). Waving these colours in the Weimar Republic made sense - it was directed against the right which asserted the black, white and red (the common colours of the palaeo- and the Nazi-right).
    Now there’s nothing to assert these symbols against - no serious separatism, no harmful amount of particularism, no far right that’s remotely as dangerous as the Weimar Republic’s right (which was heavily grounded in the pre-Weimar-Republic-educated business/law/civil service/military elites while the current far right consists mainly of loser types). So, nowhere to assert our national symbols against in an inward direction, and asserting them in an outwards direction would be stupid/evil.

  2. The far right has made some catchphrases their own (e.g. “being proud to be a German”) which automatically forced every righ-thinking person, if not to assert the opposite, to avoid anything sounding like that.

There is, BTW, a kind of patriotism that’s freely indulged in Germany and that nobody suspects of evil (only, sometimes, of narrow provincialism): Lokalpatriotismus (local patriotism). People often fly the city or state flag on their allotment or holiday cottage if that’s outside the city or state (e.g. you see a lot of Hamburg flags around Hamburg), states and cities generally display their flags and coats of arms more widely than the federal government does, and there’s a large and well selling body of literature extolling the beauty, tradition, culture and dialect of a particular town or region. People will sidle away if you declare yourself proud to be a German but nod when you declare yourself proud to be a Hamburger. (I for one am proud of that, expat in South Germany as I am)

IMO if you’re not brought up with patriotism-a-go-go, it seems a little odd.

Particularly because in most of Europe extreme patriotism over the past few decades has hinted at fascism, and before that nationalism of various kinds was responsible for two major world conflicts.

The World Cup is an exception, but even here in England there’s been soul-searching about waving the English flag, since in the past it has been associated largely with neo-Nazis. We’ve got over it now and our flag is flying everywhere, but it wasn’t a simple issue.

Patriotism has some positive qualities as well at least in the U.S. We are very patriotic in the U.S. and we naturally assume that we should be the best in just about everything. When we see other countries doing something better than we are, it seems improper. That spurs people into action in subtle and not so subtle ways. Grandeur or at least delusions of grandeur make us very competitive and not willing to take 2nd place or worse lightly.

OK. And what are the positive qualities?

Similar comments were made re: Japanese patriotism during the 2002 World Cup.

But the patriotism we are experiencing post 9/11 is creeping (if not outright running) toward nationalism. I just watched a TV program about the growing political divide in this country. They showed a gentleman from a “Red” county (conservative) who said that he hated those who criticize the war in Iraq. He says that (paraphrasing) that “these people need to understand that the president is the Commander in Chief and that they need to follow authority.”

Wow. :eek:

If that’s “patriotism”, then I don’t need it. The pride that the USA has been a beacon of freedom for more than two centuries is patriotism. Pride in knowing that the fine people of our nation helped to liberate Europe and prevented Japanese domination of the Pacific is patriotism. The pride of knowing that only Americans have walked on the moon is patriotism. Knowing that, in spite of the gentleman mentioned above, I can espouse whatever personal or political views I wish is patriotism.

IME Germans are a bit worried about seeming too enthusiastically patriotic. Yes, they are proud of the Fatherland’s contributions in music, cuisine, and beer. But, they want to make it clear that they are horrified by the holocaust and careful not to cheer on their government should a new Hitler rise to power.

I was at a baptism a while ago, and I avoided talking to a German couple for just this reason. Dad’s side of the family is German. I’ve been to Jewish German heritage festivals (the sausage is fabulous, and kosher too). But, I knew that if I talked to these people, sooner or later they’d look embarassed and apologize for the holocaust.

We ended up talking. They apologized for the holocaust. We had discussed Brahms, Beethoven, and Mozart. Now, they felt they had to apologize lest I think they were Nazis.

I told you not to mention the war!

happywaffle writes:

> Don’t mean to turn this into Great Debates or anything . . .

But you did. There’s no way to explain why I think you’re wrong without getting into a discussion that’s clearly Great Debate material. I think that what you’ve said in your post misunderstands what patriotism is about, but I can’t go into any detail without turning this thread into one that will get sent to the Great Debates forum. Other posters have been pushing the thread that way anyway, so eventually it will probably end up there.