The Guardian newspaper is nearing the end of a series it has called ‘Germany: the Accidental Empire’, a heading which has been a springboard for all manner of features, discussing many ideas some of which followers of this website will have seen before (not that I’m saying they’re copying, or anything!). Anyway, it’s a wide-ranging and bold selection, and well worth a browse. Here are some highlights:
- A piece about how east Germany is the most godless place on earth – so atheistic that some churches are sending missionaries. The feature tries to understand how this situation has come about (Communist opposition to the church, economic disillusionment, etc). Other controversial social topics elsewhere include the ‘failure’ of immigration, and the nation’s awkward relationship with the Turkish minority.
- A discussion about language and the great long compound words that Germans do so well. We’ve done this topic, too, but they’ve got some good ones, such as a person who wears gloves to throw snowballs (Handschuhschneeballwerfer) or a man who pees sitting down (Sitzpinkler).
- A thoughtful analysis of German football, asking why and how Bundesliga teams make ends meet without having oligarch owners and very expensive season tickets. The Bundesliga clubs are still large membership associations, still owned and controlled by their supporters.
- The falling birthrate debate, which the authors blame fair and square on the lack of state support for working mothers. It seems that, in Germany, you have to stay home if you want to bring up children, and more women in careers means fewer women as mothers.
- A discussion of why Germany is still shying away from the use of hard power, despite the Eurozone lining up behind it. And coupled with that, the debate about whether or not the nation should be expanding its military might.
- An interview with Bernhard Schlink (author of the Reader, etc) on the legacy of history, and why it is still a burden being German. Apparently many Germans living overseas try to avoid being identified as German.
- An analysis of the enigma that is Angular….how does she manage to be so powerful, without seeming to want or enjoy power? Imperious in the week, but Mrs Normal at the weekend.
In short, there’s lots of good stuff. And it is interesting to see which articles have caused the most debate on the Guardian’s website. Leading the way is the Bernhard Schlink piece on the burden of being German (785 comments), followed by the godlessness of the east article (526). After that comes an article about how foreigners, tourists and hipsters are forcing the locals out of Berlin (449). Contrast that with an article about how finance is doing fine in Frankfurt, with just eight comments.
Anyway, go have a look for yourselves.