Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hatred of Germany

This is a topic I find thoroughly distasteful. If you've been following my posts, you'll know that I loathe any form of xenophobia. When it's targeted at Germany where I live, and which (although I didn't grow up here) I consider my home, it's doubly irritating and painful. I also feel that I can't deal with it in an entirely fair manner anymore. Too much has happened; It has made me prickly and sickened, and I don't trust myself to deal fairly with a topic I find entirely disgusting.

Also, I haven't been living in the UK for a few years now. My last abode was Edinburgh, where I didn't encounter any anti-German feelings in particular, but was aware of a diffuse xenophobic atmosphere.

When talking to British expats here in Germany, I notice the same stereotypical cliches coming up: No queuing (nobody outside the UK queues), efficiency (not true anymore in Germany, alas) and over-emphasis on things like being on time, law and order, strictness in a family context. (All about 50 years out of date). They take the amenities Germany provides for granted but don't try to expand their knowledge of it. Empiricism doesn't stand a chance over stereotype in that quarter.

Thus we come to Social Media where the hatred of Germany and Germans is rampant. Only the other day somebody (an English female, allegedly a member of the Labour party) wrote on Twitter

"All Germans are racists. They can't help it. It's in their/your DNA." As far as racist comments go, this one would score highly. The same person maintained that "All Germans are Nazis".
All this was in relation/explanation of Germany's role in the Greek debt crisis.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, today said on twitter: "Germany's [role in the Greek debt crisis] is a disaster. We have to stop this immulation." As it is clear that "We" can neither do anything, or that Boris Johnson has any intention of bailing out Greece in a different way from Germany, these comments have to be taken as an indication of an almost incandescent hatred of Germany.

I deliberately counterpointed  a quote from a (clearly very poorly educated and ignorant) woman on Twitter and the Oxford man Boris Johnson who - however objectionable -prides himself on his worldliness and multi-cultural heritage. Sadly, both of them seem to agree on one thing: The horror that is Germany.

Speaking to a friend about it, he maintained that things had got an awful lot better over the decades. "Think of those dreadful British war films for example." I must admit I've never seen one. A loathing of all things military, war and xenophobic wouldn't make me the ideal audience. But I can assure you, even that sort of spirit is still alive and kicking: Recently, a British family man - otherwise a nice, decent person - enthusiastically raved about a new game app: "Dambusters" - hey, you can play at drowning Germans, how great is that! (War crimes as games, just think!) Incidentally, tens of thousands of  Polish POW's would have died if that infernal plan had worked out.

It is all very sad. I suppose one has to see it as a corollary of Britain drawing into itself, becoming ever more anti-European, ever more parochial and cut off. Germany and Germans are just the lazy way of hitting out. Who could be bothered to open another can of worms by, say, hating Italians or Austrians? Still, it is a sad indictment on a nation, its people. its politicians, its intellectuals (are there any in Britain still?)

It's also a shame that the UK managed to (rightly) make racism and homophobia a hate crime. Xenophobia, however, remains acceptable, is indulged in by high and low (actually, the thoroughly awful Daniel Hannan (MEP!) is another example of somebody who recently compared Germany to an occupying force in Europe - but somehow he is too disgusting to even get into.

Xenophobia really is the last resort of the scroundrel.


  1. there we go, the little anecdote I promised. This time France, the other Country so loved and hated by the English (perfect place if it wasn’t for ehm... French people?).

    Nizza airport, car-rental.Some time ago.
    My family and I were in the car, waiting in line (!) to get out of the parking lot. In front of us a car blocking the exit because its driver was having a conversation (whose content we are unaware of) with someone walking in the same parking lot.
    A bit annoying, but certainly not deserving the overreaction of the driver behind us, who got out of the car and started yelling at the guy in front of us “move your **** “ (his accent was, too bad for him, revealing his nationality) and to shake his fists in the air.
    When said driver started apologizing, in French, that he had had some issues and he was sorry for the inconvenience, the mad driver got even more upset and yelled back something like “don’t speak your f******* French when I’m speaking English to you!!!”.

    I was shocked.

    He had used one of the oldest stereotypes about the French to assert his superiority (perceived by himself alone, obviously).

    Well, on the love-hate relationship between the English and the French there must be tons of essays.
    Now it’s Germans’ turn to be mistreated, if only because they are often in the news.
    Surely it makes one angry to see so much superficial/wrong information about a Country and its citizens (+netizens) consumed like fast food on social media.

    P.S.: about the nazi DNA...mixing genetics with political orientation mustn't be kosher :)

    1. Thanks Marianna, for this really telling episode! I agree, it could probably hit any nation for any reason. Part of the problem is that it's generally considered acceptable to have prejudices against other nations - and voice them... as your anecdote clearly showed. A pity!