Germans Flying Flags Again – Good For Them

The NY Times is running a piece talking about how the World Cup has brought the German flag out in force (Hat Tip – The News Blog). Germans have been loathe to fly the flag too much lest they appear overly nationalistic, bringing back painful memories of WWII and the Third Reich. But having tens of thousands of fans in your country waving their own country’s flags makes it hard not to want to join in.

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.

Good for them. Germany has done amazing things in the past 70 years. A unified Germany deserves to be proud of their team and their country for putting on what, so far, has been an outstanding World Cup.

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  1. I’m tired of people’s saying that the “new wave of patriotism” is good for Germany. First, it’s not true that all people showing flags during the World Championship are patriotic. In my view, for most of them it’s just a pretext for celebrating (and for drinking huge amounts of alcohol). It’s party instead of patriotism.

    Second, in my view patriotism or national thinking is not at all what is needed to face the problems of a globalized world. Not in Germany and nor in any other country in the world. The concept of “nation” instead screens the view for real global solutions. Note that this has nothing to do with Nazi past.

  2. I’m not sure the intent of the article was talking about a resurgence in patriotism as much as it was an increase in people flying flags as a sign of support for the national team. Is that patriotism? Not directly. It strikes me more as a pride in your nation’s team and a sign of support for them. Patriotism is much larger than that.

    There is a delicate balance between patriotism vs globalization. But in an event such as the World Cup, I’m not sure that comes into play. Of course countries will support their national teams in a world, i.e. global event. I don’t see the harm in that.

    Switch to politics and talk about isolationism cloaked in nationalism/patriotism, yes – it’s a huge problem that often blurs the real problems that need to be addressed. We’re very familiar with that in the US unfortunately.