Patriotism is a noun which describes one’s love, devotion and support of one’s homeland. It helps to bring people together. Nationalism is a noun which describes the loyalty and devotion one feels to their homeland.
In Germany, these two words come with a very dark history and a fear people are afraid to show too much of. This fear dates back to the Second World War and the nationalism and patriotism Hitler embodied during the atrocities of what would become a very dark part of German history.
70 years after the end of the war and these two words come with a lot of hesitation. While Germans are certainly proud to be German, the idea of showing too much patriotism and nationalism towards Germany as a whole is a relatively new concept. After all, the Germany we know today was only formed 25 years ago after the final reunification of East and West Germany.
Therefore, it isn’t very common to see a German flag waving about on a pole in front of every major government building, school, company and personal homes. As an American, from a country where our flag is one of the most beloved symbols of freedom and hope and represent the pride we feel in being in and from America, it is strange to live in a country which doesn’t show their love of their country openly.
Both of these go hand in hand in America and we are proud to show off our red, white and blue. We hang our flag in front of all of our houses, in front of schools, public buildings, government buildings, stadiums and more. We even wear our flag as a fashion statement. We sing about it in songs and show it off in our movies.
In Germany, this is not the case! After WWII, nationalism and patriotism was thought lost. Many Germans thought that showing too much nationalism and patriotism was too closely associated with Nazi pride. During the war, the Nazi flag was raised on every building and in every home. Since the end of the war, Germany has been soft spoken about showing too much national pride.
In today’s society, the German flag rarely makes a public appearance. On special government or public holidays, the flag is raised. Otherwise, on a normal day, the flag remains unseen anywhere in the public eye. Below is a picture of the Regensburg court house which only on special occasions flies the German flag.
However, with the new generations of Germans rolling in, they feel less and less associated with the history of the past. These young Germans are flaunting their German pride and nationalism more often. The town is painted in the German flag colors of black, red and gold when there is a big sporting event (usually soccer) of great importance.
During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Germany showed more patriotism than I have ever seen. Everyone was wearing the national colors, singing the chorus to “Das Lied der Deutschen” (The Song of the Germans).
Germany, Germany above all,
Above all in the world,
When for protection and defense, it always
takes a brotherly stand together.
From the Meuse to the Memel,
From the Adige to the Belt,
|: Germany, Germany above everything,
Above everything in the world! :|
German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song
Shall retain in the world
Their old beautiful chime
And inspire us to noble deeds
During all of our life.
|: German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song! :|
Unity and Justice and Freedom
For the German Fatherland!
Let us all strive for this purpose
Brotherly with heart and hand!
Unity and Justice and Freedom
Are the Pledge of Happiness;
|: Bloom in the Glow of Happiness,
Bloom, German Fatherland! :|
The interesting thing about the national anthem of Germany is that is has 3 different stanzas, but only the third stanza is allowed to be sung. In the first Stanza, it sings about places in Poland that are no longer a part of Germany and at the end it mentions “Germany above everything”. This is unacceptable to sing and Germans are too afraid it will pull them back into the darkness of the Second World War.
During the Nazi era, only the first stanza was used and played at events of such important national significance, such as the opening of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin which then closely linked the first stanza with the Nazi regime.
Today only the third stanza is sung before events and sporting events which are very significant to Germany. They are not sung prior to every sporting event like in the United States. So during the World Cup when Germany finally made it to the final playoffs, the song was heard everywhere. It would be the first time that Germany as a whole, since the reunification of Germany, would celebrate the winning of Germany against Argentina.
For hours on end, after Germany had won, people cheered and partied in the city centers only to later hop in their cars and honk their horns until the wee hours of the morning or chanting the third anthem as they walked down the streets. There are some critics who were disgusted with the extreme show of patriotism in the streets during the World Cup that some are even demanding a ban on the German flag or downright removing the flags that many citizens placed on their side door mirrors of their cars or attached to the roof of their cars.
Even I sported the German national flag to show the patriotism I have while living in Germany. But the minute I wear my USA colors for the 4th of July or for a game while in Germany, Hans is always quick to point out how he cant believe the amount of national pride the US has for 4th of July. I cant wait to take him home to the US one day for a 4th of July celebration, and the house covered in red, white and blue, including the food on the table. As an American, we are proud of our heritage and we are not afraid to show it! Neither should the Germans be!