The German Interior Minister stepped out this weekend and wrote an opinion piece for Bild Am Sonntag....a 10-piece listing of what makes German culture. It's an interesting piece.
1. We Show Our Face: "We attach importance to some social habits, not because they are content, but because they are expressions of a certain attitude: We say our name. We give each other a hand. In demonstrations, we have a prohibition on manning. "Show face" - this is the expression of our democratic coexistence. In everyday life, it is important to us whether we look in a friendly or a sad face with our conversation partners. We are an open society. We show our face. We are not Burka."
2. Education: "We see education and education as value and not just as an instrument. Students learn - sometimes to their incomprehension - what they do not need much in later professional life. Some claim, therefore, that school should be more prepared for later occupations. But this does not correspond to our understanding of education. General education has a value in itself. This awareness is shaping our country."
3.Performance: "We see performance as something everyone can be proud of. Everywhere: in sports, in society, in science, in politics or in business. We demand performance. Performance and quality bring prosperity. The idea of performance has made our country strong. We also provide assistance, have social security systems and offer help to people who need help. As a country we want to do it and as a country we can afford it. We are also proud of this achievement."
4.Tradition: "We are heirs of our history with all its ups and downs. Our past is shaped by our present and our culture. We are the heirs of our German history. For us, it is a struggle for German unity in freedom and peace with our neighbors, the convergence of the countries into a federal state, the struggle for freedom and the commitment to the deepest depths of our history. This also includes a special relationship with Israel's right to exist."
5. Culture:"We are cultivation. Hardly any country is as shaped by culture and philosophy as Germany. Germany has greatly influenced the cultural development of the whole world. Bach and Goethe "belong" to the whole world and were Germans. We have our own understanding of the importance of culture in our society. It is self-evident that music is played at a political ceremony or at a school anniversary. At the opening of a large concert hall - as a matter of course - the Federal President, representatives from government, parliament, jurisprudence and society are on the spot. Hardly a country has so many theater per inhabitant as Germany. Every county is proud of its music school. Culture in a broad sense,"
6. Religion: "In our country religion is putty and not a wedge of society. The Churches with their tireless dedication to the society stand for this in our country. They stand for this putty - they connect people, not only in faith, but also in their daily lives, in day-care centers, in schools, in old people's homes and active community work. Such a putty for our society arises in the Christian church, in the synagogue, and in the mosque. We recall 500 years of Reformation this year.
For the separation of the Christian churches has paid Europe, Germany has a high price. With wars and decades of conflict. Germany is characterized by a special state-church relationship. Our state is neutrally neutrally, but friendly to the churches and religious communities. Church holidays shape the rhythm of our years. Church towers characterize our landscape. Our country is Christian. We live in religious peace. And the basis for this is the absolute primacy of the law over all religious rules in the state and society."
7. Civil Culture: "We have in our country a civil culture in the regulation of conflicts. The compromise is constitutive of democracy and our country. Perhaps we are more a consensual society than other western societies. The majority principle is the protection of minorities. We are disturbed by the fact that some things have slipped. For us, respect and tolerance are important. We accept different forms of life, and anyone who rejects this is outside a great consensus. Violence is not accepted socially in demonstrations or elsewhere. We do not associate ideas of honor with violence."
8. Patriotism: "We are enlightened patriots. An enlightened patriot loves his country and does not hate others. We Germans can be. "And because we improve this country, we love and protect it, and it seems to us as dear to all peoples as it is in the pedophile of Bert Brecht (famous Berlin writer), that we have had problems with our patriotism , Many of us did not dare to confess to Germany, all of which is over, especially in the younger generation, our national flag and our national anthem are a self-evident part of our patriotism: unity and right and freedom."
9. Part of Europe: "Our country had many chances to cope with. Some of these were associated with basic decisions. One of the most important is that we are part of the West. Culturally, mentally and politically. NATO protects our freedom. It connects us with the USA, our most important external European friend and partner. As Germans we are always also Europeans. German interests are often best represented and realized through Europe. Conversely, Europe will not prosper without a strong Germany. We are perhaps the most European country in Europe - no country has more neighbors than Germany. The geographic position has shaped us for centuries with our neighbors, formerly in the difficult, now in the good."
10. Collective Memory. "We have a collective collective memory of places and memories. The Brandenburg Gate and the 9th of November, for example, are part of such collective memories. Or win the world championships. Regional is added: carnival, folk festival. The native roots, the market places of our cities. The affinity with places, smells and traditions. Country-minded mentality, recognizable by the sound of the language, belongs to us and shape our country."
Over the past twenty-four hours, this essay has gotten a lot of attention and drawn a fair amount of criticism. Some folks are angry because he brought up the topic of the burka. Some folks are angry because he laid out the EU connection. Some folks are angry because he didn't emphasize Nazi-guilt enough. Some folks are angry because.....well....Germans aren't supposed to be Germans.
For the next week, sadly.....we will likely be getting a few public-TV chat forums which dare discuss why Germans are Germans.
To explain the German culture? I would have had a different list....I will admit:
1. Germany isn't Germany without all the beer, wine, apple-wine, and liquor. Germans will drink to their woes, their triumphs, their losses, their good fortune, the spring rain, the fall harvest, and even the sweat expended upon backyard project. Suggesting some type of dry-mentality would invite disaster in your relationship with a German.
2. Obsession over innovation. Germans spend day and night, thinking about some way of fixing something or improving something. A few VW German engineers even spent some time thinking of a way to pass a diesel engine through an impossible test.
3. Germans won't normally do something half-ass. When you look at autobahn projects, nuke-plants, universities, or cars....marginal effort simply doesn't occur. They build things which they are proud of and will want you to share in their success. I admit, I am kinda lost on how to explain the Berlin Airport (BER) project and it's massive (ultra-ultra-massive) construction failure (had to be Russian KGB effort to destabilize the project).
4. German food was designed for hearty men. If some German cooks up a big dinner....all from scratch, and they lay out a extra-large plate.....you can expect the food to be 150-percent of what you'd typically eat and be of a hearty nature. Germans don't typically stand around and whine about schnitzel or sauerbraten.
5. Creative over taxes. There are German bureaucrats who lay there at night....trying to devise another hidden tax or fee. There are other German bureaucrats who lay there trying to devise different ways of spending all the money that comes in.
6. Germans cannot exist without vacations. Because of the enormous amount of internal pressure, stress, and frustrations of employment....Germans spend weeks and months devising vacations to relieve the irritation on their mind. This usually means a two-week all-expenses paid trip (with the airline ticket, hotel, three meals a day, and all-inclusive beer and cocktail deal) at some Turkish resort. Sadly, with the present situation in Turkey.....they can't get that fantastic cheap deal....so they have to pay extra and do this in Greece.
7. Germany isn't Germany, without the train system that works. Let's be honest, no country on the face of this Earth has done so much to make railway traffic work on time and be considered reliable. Probably over a quarter-of-a-million people in the Frankfurt 'shadow' use the railway system and are utterly dependent upon it.
8. Germans like to dress in provocative clothing. In the summer heat while paving asphalt roads....you will see a road crew in mostly short-shorts and often no shirt. German women will dress in a provocative style that leaves you in a state of amazement.
9. Germans like regulations. Nothing is more entertaining to a German than writing up a sixty-page regulation over potato chips or macaroni.
10. A better society mentality. Germans are pre-occupied in building always a better society. It's an hour-by-hour thing....there's never a peak to this enthusiasm.
This whole culture thing will be debated by 82-million Germans....to no end.