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Mein Gott! Zey are fallink in love wiz us!

All of a sudden, the British media is making eyes at Germany. Barbara Geier takes a closer look at the new romance.

What’s going on? Last week, in its travel pages, the Daily Telegraph was bemoaning the fact that so few Brits choose Germany for their holidays, praising, in this particular case, the beauty of Freiburg and the Black Forest. The Independent has been describing Dresden as a ‘rebuilt wonder’ and – hold your breath – the Sun has come up with ten (‘not nein’) reasons why the UK should love Germany. The latter piece appeared in answer to German tabloid Bild’s cry ‘Please don’t go, you’re so wonderfully crazy’, telling the UK why it is needed as a EU member. Both articles were full of clichés, as expected, but never mind.

However, the current UK-German love affair doesn’t stop there. Style-bible and über-cool publication Monocle has dedicated its current issue to Germany, telling its readers why the world needs the ‘new Germans: how Europe’s star economy uses business brawn, good design and Gummi Bears to win hearts, minds and tummies.’ A couple of months ago, David Cameron told an audience at a car parts plant in Redditch that the ‘Brits need to be more Germanic to help industry’, by training up more people to do practical jobs. And then there’s Lord Weidenfeld who just professed that Angela Merkel is the contemporary politician he most admires: ‘She’s got moral firmness: solid, rock solid!’ (a wunderbar description of her!).

So, to return to the start. What’s going on? What’s behind the UK’s new-found love for all things German? Well, first of all, for any German living in the UK (including the writer of this blog) all this enthusiasm for ‘contemporary Germany’ as a novel thing is a bit exasperating. Because, after all, if you’ve grown up in contemporary Germany, you know what it’s like and that the country is – surprise, surprise – modern, has a high standard of living, has some really very nice scenery, has a varied cultural scene and is populated by people who have no problem at all with anyone mentioning the war (there goes another cliché). Germans like the good things in life including food and drink and are on the whole quite a decent bunch who do get irony.

What it boils down to is that the UK seems to have discovered modern Germany a bit late. Might be because of the war, might be because it’s nice to cling on to certain stereotypes; Germans do the same, the other way round. That this love-in is happening now is surely part of an ongoing development that has taken place over recent years, including the fall of the Wall, the emergence of Berlin as the place to be for the youth of the world (any age group, in fact), oh, and not to forget the World Cup in 2006 when the country staged its Sommermärchen (summer’s tale) which will forever have a special place in the nation’s collective memory.

In the end, the ‘why’ of the affair doesn’t really matter; it’s nice to see.  And after years of Germany being the more passionate partner in the UK-German relationship, maybe things are about to change.


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