No Longer Bowed in Shame

The final soccer match of the 2014 FIFA world cup ended with a German victory against Argentina, 1-0

A rare glimpse of German national pride was heard from the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is an avid soccer fan herself, kissed and greeted all of the players on their day of victory.

In many parts of Germany, the people paraded the German tricolor throughout the country. Max Frei, a German student studying in Florida, who witnessed the celebration, said: “it was as if the yellow in the German tricolor had turned to gold.” The significance of this rare sighting of German patriotism is much more than what meets the eye.

For the last half-century, Germans have been wary of this sort of patriotic pride. Being “proud to be an American” is a de facto requirement to operate on the US political scene, but in Europe, saying one is “proud to be German” is still highly controversial. Germany has not quite recovered from her history: the shame of the Nazi Party’s destructive nationalist ideology has resulted in a post-war generation hesitant to indulge in anything that could be construed as nationalistic.

Directly after World War II, European political science thinkers like Jean Monnet wanted to rebuild Western Europe at the expense of Germany. Plans were made and enacted to ensure Germany would never again rise as a military threat. The precursor to the European Union, The European Steel, and Coal community was originally intended to redistribute the industrial resources of Western Germany (the Ruhr) and give them to surrounding countries to help rebuild at Germany’s expense.

Germany since its unification has become the 6th most powerful and largest economy in the world, regardless of its prior struggles of recovering from literal and ideological wreckage of World War II.  Germany’s economic influence rose in spite of attempts by other powers of Western Europe to prevent Germany from doing so.

Germany, reluctantly, has already become the unofficial political and economic leader of Europe and the European Union (an ironic result of implemented economic and political plans of Jean Monnet). German Banks fuel the European Union’s official currency, the Euro. German Banks also have begun to enforce budget austerity measures on nations like Greece, how have previously held a high deficit. As time has passed since both the partition and unification of Germany, the German political and economic influence is troubling to those countries who feel restrained and maltreated by Germany’s austerity requirements.

The victory against Argentina was historic in that this was Germany’s first World Cup Championship since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some see the victory in the FIFA World Cup is merely a physical manifestation of an already growing German economy and political influence.

With that being said, many have begun to bring back Germany’s painful history, through tags on social media. When Germany lead a whopping defeat on Brazil in the Semi-finals of the World Cup (Germany won 7-1), “Hitler,” “Nazis” and a number of bad “Blitzkrieg” jokes were made. After and during the Brazilian-German soccer match on July 5, 2014, the usage of the words “blitzkrieg,” “war” and “nazi” spiked on social media.

Even though there is resistance, on the part of both Germans and Non-Germans alike to the idea of a powerful Germany on the rise again, the newest generations of Germans seem eager to change the world’s view of them. As the streets of Germany flooded with the black, yellow and red tricolors, many Germans found this victory as a defining chance to the beginnings of a new and positive history for Germany.