Sunday, June 18, 2006

es ist die Frau die Freitags nicht kann

So, I'm German. Practically 100%. My father's parents were born in Germany and I still have a lot of relatives over there, though I don't really know any of them. My mother's family is far more American, having lived here longer, but she, too, can trace her roots back to Germany (or, at the very least, the Alsace-Lorraine region, which has been alternately occupied by Germany and France for hundreds of years). I studied German for two years in college, even though I'd opted out of the language requirement with French, because I wanted to be able to identify more fully with my heritage. I was even fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Heidelberg, the city of my grandparents, to study German for a month and immerse myself in the culture. Moreover, I will fight to the death for the spelling of my last name, which is the proper, German spelling, but to which American ears want to add a "t." (The German "z" is a "tz" sound, so adding the t is redundant. *grrrowl*)

One challenge that I've had ever since learning about the tragedies of the World Wars (and WWII, in particular) is reconciling my pride in my ancestry with the evils that were perpetrated by a subset of Germans who participated in horrific, inhuman behavior in the name of nationalism. That Germany is nothing I want to identify with--I simply cannot fathom the depths of the soul into which one must descend in order to eradicate so many innocent persons to achieve a highly distorted ideal of a "greater good." It's heartening, therefore, to read this article in the New York Times that shows Germans reclaiming their pre-World War national identity with their flag through the joy of World Cup competition. I'm really delighted to think that the democratic German patriotism that predates and has outlived the Nazi era might be, at last, a source of pride for Germans the world over, even if it's nothing more political than national pride in a sports team. Ich bin keine Berlinerin, aber ich liebe Deutschland (und vielleicht meine Sprache ist jetzt nicht so schlecht...?).

I'm also reminded a particularly amusing Dwight quote from The Office last season: I come from a long line of fighters, my maternal grandfather was the toughest guy I ever knew. World War II veteran. He killed twenty men and then spent the rest of the war in an Allied prison camp...

5 comments:

trunger said...

one should always look on the proverbial brightside :)

given the width of germanic history, i think the whole Nazi thing is kind of a blip on the radar. granted it is a horrible thing and yada yada yada. but who are we kidding? just look at the American treatment of Native Americans, Afro-Americans, Chinese, and Japanese. I think people tend to forget that. It's like they have the Nazi thing so that they don't have to look at their own history. Besides, there are so much richness of german history that it's a shame that a lot of people place focus on a brief period of time. For instance (and i use this example cause, well, i'm a singer), take a look at the richness of J.S.Bach. I've had the opportunity to sing his works for three years. Just by doing that, I've had such a greater appreciation for the german language especially when singing it. granted, i SO love singing in different languages (my next goal is to do some gaelic singing). not to mention the BEER! ahem, yeah, i don't drink but still...it's BEER. anyway, the real travesty of the modern day german is the fact that THEY LOVE DAVID HASSELHOFF....AS A SINGER!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!

^kat^ said...

Yeah, it occurred to me that the whole "he who is without sin should cast the first stone" thing very much applies in this instance, and I agree that it's an easy scapegoat for all that was wrong with the world in the last century. But yay for Bach! He was a staple of my music classes in college. And yay for beer, which I've only recently discovered that I actually like! And yay for giving me the opportunity to repost...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x20v9F-sWHQ

Bruce said...

Now you've got me thinking about one of my fourth grade teachers. Her last name was Kuntz.
Website.

^kat^ said...

hah! POSER!

No, really, she looks nice. And she probably doesn't even know the error of her ways. *shakes head ruefully*

Bruce said...

It probably wasn't even her error. I'm inclined to believe that she married into the name. :-)