Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit October 3, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Tags: Germany, music
…yeah, I’m goin’ get all German on yo’ asses. Or something. Entschuldigung. I’m a tad on the tipsy side. But as I went to finger my calendar forward a notch having somehow noticed that the clock had struck midnight, I realised ’twas a momentous day for the locals. Yup, it’s Unification Day, and I plan to sing Germany’s praises to the heights. By the way… The title of this post of pure pus is the first line of the German national anthem. And while I’m in a contrary mood, and tipsy, and feeling silly, I feel we need to have a few words about the old hymn. Much is made of the German anthem. This first line is a new first line, because everyone associates the old first line, the Deutschland-Deutschland-über-alles one, with German plans to dominate the world. For some reason, this misconception has been allowed to catch on, perhaps even amongst Germans themselves – occasionally you hear the odd scandal amongst folk here when some politico has decided to belt out the old version – but it is just that, a misconception. The old Deutschland-Deutschland-über-alles line – Germany, Germany, above all else – is bugger all to do with Germany ruling the world and being superior. The anthem was composed in the 19th century when Germany didn’t yet exist as a nation. So the above-all-else malarkey was actually in reference to forming Germany as a state… Which is not to say I recommend going around singing the disputed version. Plus, Germans aren’t that much into singing their anthem anyway. THAT verse is now so associated with nastiness that it’s best left unsung. But that IS a misconception. Anyway…
So, 635 years – or whatever it is – since reunification. Imagine that. Now we have an Ossi (sort of) Kanzlerin and Ossi captain for the national football team. Berlin is the capital once more. We can still buy Ossi washing-up liquid and young men are still being christened Mirko. Germany is at peace with itself. The odd flag is still to be seen fluttering from the odd balcony, yet World Cup fever and fervour haven’t transmogrified into anything more nasty. Germany is Germany is Germany. Wessi and Ossi are just about as antiquated as epithets as left and right. (What? You mean they still exist?) And so, from the heart of utterly ordinary Europe, I want to remind you of some of Germany’s most important contributions to recent pop-Europaica.
Firstly, there’s this little musical gem from 1995. Now let no-one be fooled into thinking this is a messageless song about rodding. Personally, I like to think of it as a post-ideological, yet Marxist, feminist and psychoanalytical comment on post-reunification Germany. The ‘shut up’ is clearly a political instruction to accept the new order. And the ‘sleep with me’ is nothing to do with rodding at all, you empty old cynics, but merely a way of Wessis and Ossis instructing each other to forget their differences and hold hands across the wall that used to separate them.
And lest you think Nena’s 1984 hit was just a philosophyless old bit of crap, let me assure you that it was really a message of peace. Nena only really wanted to float 99 balloons – they were only made red to please English-speaking Marxists – across the border from west to east full of messages of lurve and reconciliation and to remind all the Mirkos in the east that they were still one nation really. Just as soon as they could shake off those pesky Soviets, all would be well again. I’m convinced that’s what Nena meant.
Alas, a grammatical error in Germans’ attempts at forgetting they’re actually German almost made us miss the message of this final German hit. Not ‘Duel’, you daft apeths. Sondern ‘Dual’, no doubt a reference to Germany’s then dual, Cartesian nature. “Ja, OK, Mirko, so vee are noch zwei Lands,” sang the Teuton beauty way back whenever it was. “Aber soon vee vill be vun again. You vill drive your Trabis across ze border, and ve vill give you Wessi chocolate.”
And so it transpired. And it’s been sweetness and light at the Brandenburg Gate ever since.