The Germans: A long time coming for the pride and nationalism

Jurgen Klinsmann led Germany to a third place finish that few would have thought possible before the 2006 World Cup began. With its success in soccer was the new found confidence and patriotism in Germany, with all the cheering fans, the singing of the anthem, and the flag waving.
Even the biggest critics of the Germans, the Brits, who never fail to remind the Germans about their World War II legacy, were impressed by this new fervor. Basil Fawlty, the clod in the infamous episode “The Germans” reminds his staff “don’t mention the war” to his German guests, a statement that became famous in the annals of Brit comedy, apologized to the Germans for his ignorance and bad taste.
Eduardo Galeano gives context to the long and tortuous way that the Germans have had to travel from their first hesitant steps in the post World War II era, the decades of self effacement, and to the overt displays of German pride and nationalism that we saw in this World Cup.
It was at the World Cup in 1954. Hungary, the favorite, was playing Germany in the final. WIth six minutes left in a game tied 2-2, the robust German forward Helmut Rahn trapped a rebound from the Hungarian defense in the semi-circle. Rahn evaded Lantos and fired a blast with his left, just inside the right post of the goal defended by Grosics.
Heribert Zimmermann, Germany’s most popular commentator, anoounced that goal with a passion worthy of a South American: “Toooooooooorrrrrrrrr!!!”
It was the first World Cup that Germany had been allowed to play in since the war, and Germans felt they had the right to exist again. Zimmerman’s cry became a symbol of national resurrection. Years later, that historic goal could be heard on the soundtrack of Fassbinder’s film, “The Marriage of Maria Braun, ” which recounts the misadventures of a woman who can’t find her way out of the ruins.

(From Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Verso Paperbacks, 2003)

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