Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Germans and the French

This weekend....Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel meets up with the new French President Francois Hollande....over in northern France (Reims).  It's supposed to be a historical meeting of sorts....fifty years since France and Germany got to be buddy-buddy over the WW II episode.  To be honest, Merkel has probably met with Hollande at least three times since he won the recent French election.....so it's mostly a hug and greet opportunity....sip some French wine, and just pose for cameras to show French-Germany unity.

For an American....the real question is....is there anything that has occurred since WW II to make the French folks really happy and peppy over their old enemy?  The answer is....time has passed and two generations of French folks have passed on.  So you have over half the French population who know the war occurred but really don't have any understanding of what Germany did to be such a bad neighbor.   Time has ended up being the best deal to overcome the war.

If you are a German who lives within an hour of the French border....there's pretty good odds that you've crossed the border a dozen times over your fifty years of life.  You went to shop, or to a wine fest, or just strolled down through some French historical site.  The odds are.....you didn't even think about WW II or any negative French attitudes that might be left over.

Are there still hostile feelings?  I'm guessing that twenty percent of the French population still hold a fairly strong anti-German feeling.  It might take another twenty years and another generation passing....before you see that hostile reaction disappear.

Course, you as the American might come to realize that twenty percent of the French population actually hold you in the same negative fashion as the German neighbor.  My advice is.....don't worry much about it.  Life goes on.  It's kinda like this uneasy relationship between folks in Oklahoma and Texas, during the NCAA football season.  Just grin a bit and hug those French folks.....they probably need it.


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