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Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit October 3, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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…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.



1. Blonde at Heart - October 3, 2006

The “Deutschland-Deutschland” does not sound half as menacing as the Nazi song “Heute Deutschland, Morgens die ganzen Welt”. It is a really nice song, if you do not know German.

2. daggi - October 3, 2006

“Morgens die ganze Welt” – und Abends? Thorpe-le-Soken? (which is probably not a place, but it should be)

3. BiB - October 3, 2006

Daggi, I thought Thorpe-le-Soken was a product of your wicked imagination, but google informs me it exists in none other than your native Essex. Apparently, it’s served by Thorpe-le-Soken railway station, which sounds to me like a prime candidate for a spot of beechinging.

BAH, that’s one German song I haven’t heard, thankfully. Although it does remind me of a silly t-shirt my (young) nephew bought once. He couldn’t understand why he was forbidden to wear it out.

4. Ed Ward - October 3, 2006

Rodding? Beechinging? Ah, two nations separated by a common language…

5. BiB - October 3, 2006

Ed, rodding is a friend of mine’s word of choice for coitus. Don’t know if it’s his own coinage. It always makes me think rude thoughts about clean boy par excellence, Andy Roddick.

Some Mr. Beeching or other was responsible for having all the unprofitable train lines in the UK shut down at some point or other. Cue dead and inaccessible villages and towns. As with football, it seems amazing that the English could have invented the train and then been so shit at mastering it.

6. Blonde at Heart - October 3, 2006

Daggi, meine Deutsch ist sehr schlecht. Danke for the correction.

7. BiB - October 3, 2006

BAH, at least you don’t have the excuse of having lived here for five years, which I do, and my German is still as schlecht as schlecht can be.

8. actualfactual - October 3, 2006

Don’t forget Concentration Camps, BiB. Our invention, the Germans just made them more efficient. Japanese made them smaller. Add further national slurs as required…..

9. Clarsonimus - October 3, 2006

I have NEVER heard such a well thought through and thoroughly plausible explanation concerning the deeper meaning behind those three musical gems (especially the first one). And I NEVER want to hear one like it again! ;-)

10. BiB - October 3, 2006

IAF, yes, we rather like to keep quiet about concentration camps when listing our achievements, n’est-ce pas? The industrial revolution forces me to think positive thoughts about England, perhaps because I got good marks for an essay on the spinning jenny at school. An Irish gent I constantly had to apologise to for existing once tried to convince me the Irish invented democracy, which I refused to go with. Thankfully, he was awfully pleasing on the eye, which helped putting up with his 18-year-old ramblings.

Clarsonimus, I PROMISE booze had nothing to do with them. At all.

11. leon - October 4, 2006

Your German can’t really be as schlecht as mine, given that I keep getting the word “schlecht” mixed up with “schrecklich” and as a result saying that my German is ‘frightful’.

Which I suppose it is.

12. BiB - October 4, 2006

Leon, stick with schrecklich. Germans will think it’s your English sense of humour and this will curry you great favour. Are you planning a trip, then?

I’ve got a feeling I’ve now been here for five years. I’ve blanked out the arrival date, as it marks such a high-speed, downhill trajectory in my life. But my German really is laughably bad, especially as I’m meant to be a linguist. I speak German approximately as well as 90-year-olds who’ve emigrated to the Costa Brava speak Spanish (although I promise I’ve never moaned about Germans’ knowledge of English).

13. patroclus - October 4, 2006

Ooh, Propaganda’s ‘Duel’ (er, ‘Dual’) – haven’t heard that for years. Must source immediately.

14. BiB - October 4, 2006

It’s a corker, isn’t it? I used to have at least one album of theirs, but university thieves put paid to most of my collection. I still want my Betty Boo album back too, should the thief in question be reading this. And the De La Soul one, while we’re at it.

15. Ed Ward - October 5, 2006

” I still want my Betty Boo album back too.”

Errr, no you don’t. Trust me on this.

16. BiB - October 5, 2006

Ed, you may have a point. I youtubed her yesterday, and kept saying to myself, “There must be ONE song that I really liked.” Couldn’t find the bastard if there was.

17. Bowleserised - October 6, 2006

Ed, you have no soul. Isn’t Betty Boo one of these eighties gals who now makes much better money writing for other people? Like Cathy Dennis?

18. BiB - October 6, 2006

Is she really? Do none of these people fade away into complete insignificance? You’ll be telling me Toyah Wilcox or Hazel O’Connor still has a career next.

19. leon - October 6, 2006

La Boo was actually spotted a few months back on the cover of the Grauniad‘s ‘Guide’, as she and Alex James (yes, him) were releasing what appeared to be some kind of novelty pop record (he has a history of this kind of thing, of course).

It sank completely without trace by the looks of it. Won’t be mentioning that one on the CV, eh, Alex?

20. BiB - October 6, 2006

I didn’t know Mr. James, but I see from wikiing him that he has three sons called Geronimo, Artemis and Galileo. Hm.

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