do not mention the war

Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

Book Review: Wembley 1966 – The Myth in Photos

In Football on October 31, 2017 at 09:00

A book about the World Cup final 1966 at Wembley: A collection of photographs which show the match from various angles.
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Finland – England in 2000: Parlour’s 1966 Moment

In Football on October 11, 2017 at 08:00

As England have qualified for Russia 2018, this clip from 2000 shows, although shaky, how England struggled to get to grip with Finland. The game came a few days after England were beaten at the old Wembley by their all time foe Germany, 1-0 thanks to a Didi Hamann free kick. The England keeper David Seaman demanded his team mates to place a wall, which was ignored as the latter thought the ball was too far out to be dangerous. How wrong they were they realized when Hamann stepped up and kicked the ball low and hard. Seaman could not stop it. 1-0. Keegan resigned in the wake of the defeat and Howard Wilkinson took over as careaker manager.

His first game in charge was the trip to Finland. It was here where England had another 1966 moment when Ray Parlour hit the crossbar and the ball bounced down and according to the English players behind the goal line. The referee did not give the goal.

The moment where Parlour hit the crossbar comes at 10:18. The coverage is shaky and it is not clear to see if the ball really bounced behind the line or not.

The magazine Soccer America reported on the match saying that England lacked togetherness and that doom was to descend on England. The article finished by stating

Wilkinson made much of a late strike by Ray Parlour that appeared to bounce down over the goal line but was not given as a goal by French referee Alain Sars. After a period of sustained England pressure, Parlour’s shot from eight yards hit the bar and ricocheted down.

“Clearly the team thought they were denied a victory,” Wilkinson said. The incident was reminiscent of Geoff Hurst’s controversial second goal in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany that was given by a Russian linesman. The Sun showed Wilkinson with a telephone and a speech bubble: “Is that FIFA? Give me a Russian linesman,” it said.

The Curse of Wembley struck again and denied England.

Shock to the System

In Germany on September 26, 2017 at 09:00

This is the impression observers must have about the German general election last Sunday. Surely, that a radical party like AfD would move into the Bundestag was expected. Yet, that this right-wing radical party would do so with almost 13% of the vote is a shock. That is more than any of the ‘established opposition parties’ like Die Linke, the Greens have achieved in the last elections for Germany’s parliament.

Many would have expected that the populist move to the right would have been halted with the success of Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections earlier this year. This has not been successful as AfD duly demonstrates. Their success is the failure of the big parties to listen to the common people in their constituencies. The biggest factor in the television debate was the issue of immigration. The AfD played that card well, very well. The candidates forced the issue to be discussed exclusively, leaving out more pressing issues such as Dieselgate, the state of German schools and universities to name just two out of many. Moreover, it prevented a thorough discussion of the AfD’s party programme which is nothing but a step backward. It would strip women of many rights, for example.

The result of the election is the latest development of disenchantment of the people. And that is the main reason why the East of Germany has cast their vote the way they have: almost a quarter voted for AfD. It is too simple however, to blame it on East Germans voting in protest. But that is the reality. They feel disenchanted, left behind.

The minister for integration in Saxony, Petra Köpping has toured the federal state tirelessly over the last months and has heard that most people feel bitter about the treatment they have received from politicians after 1990. This feeling of being overruled, overheard and ignored has for a long time been subdued or repressed. However, the arrival of migrants in the summer of 2015 has changed all that. It is here that the AfD have found their topic and with it access to the people.

The democratic revolution of 1989 is now almost 30 years in the past but still there is a sense of being citizens of secondary importance among many East Germans. A lot has to do with the fact that their lives have turned upside down within a matter of weeks. No security network was in place to help soften the hard landing. Many have not come to terms with the new situation. Additionally, economic insecurity adds fuel to the fire and nourishes that feeling of being not important enough.

Köpping however has come to the conclusion that it is far more important that the local people have to be content before they are okay with people from different countries and cultures. This is what she is trying to do now: listening to the many, predominantly male population of Saxony and trying to offer help and optimism. It is a hard job, she admits and it is only a small contribution she can make but it is a start.

The lives and achievements of those living in East Germany need to be accepted and more importantly respected. This is not an easy task. And big politics has failed to listen and to react. Merkel’s mantra ‘Yes we can’ has backfired spectacularly. Of course, it is no problem for people to engage and help others in need. And this many did, in East and West Germany. Their efforts however, have never been acknowledged publicly. Instead it looked more and more as though helping people fleeing from Syria and other countries in the Middle East was a mistake. It was one of the key arguments of the right-wing actors such as Pegida and AfD. The latter argued that immigrants are taking the jobs from the locals and are a threat to the fabric of society. That is nonsense. It was not the first time that people engaged and had to recognition of their efforts. After all, they shed their communist past and adapted to new reality of capitalism with all its downsides. Of these there were a lot, mostly unemployment, and lately insecure jobs on barely minimum wages. At the same time people have seen that millions if not billions have been made available to bail out banks and car manufacturers in the wake of the crises from 2007 onwards. Back then it was declared to be without alternative to dispel any doubts. As a result there were cuts to social welfare and cultural programs. It is a dangerous void that opened up and that needed filling.

East Germans again adapted but so had West Germans when the Hartz IV regulations were put in force in 2002. These demanded that benefits would be cut if people without a job did not accept offers from the job agency. Moreover, it created an employment sector that allowed companies to hire employees for €450/month. This excludes social security or any insurance against accidents or unemployment. It created a low wage market but was feted as the German economic miracle of the 21 century. It affected the East more than the West.

Into this climate the ‘refugee crisis’ happened and caused more insecurity or at least it was what the mainstream press made of it. A lot of this reverberated and was amplified in media outlets that are on the right wing of the political spectrum.

Therefore, to blame the East for a lack of democratic understanding and of democratic values is too easy an argument yet it is what most people will say about the election of 2017. People have been patient for a long time and have swallowed a lot, especially after 1990 in the East of Germany. The result of this election is an indirect consequence of the unification and all its false promises. Most notably by ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl who has promised ‘blossoming landscapes’ for the East. Blossoming they are but not with industry but weeds.

In order for the people of Saxony and the other federal states in Germany’s east to feel better and integrated it is imperative that their stories are heard and their biographies accepted as they are. For now they feel they are second class citizens being left out deliberately.

Image Credits

Letters Shock Disillusion Disillusionment Words via MaxPixels under Creative Commons Zero CC0

German Invasion in London

In Anglo-German Relations, Media Analysis on September 16, 2017 at 08:40

Or so it may have been seen by observers who had no knowledge of the Europa League between Arsenal and Cologne last night. Indeed 20000 football fans dressed in the red and white of their team and marching through London, singing, drinking, does look impressive. Understandably, police and Arsenal were somewhat surprised to see the number of people arriving. In a response the editor of Cologne fanzine effzeh, Arne Steinberg calls this underestimation naive. Right he is. Just because other clubs don’t come with such a huge following, doesn’t mean Arsenal and the police should have been prepared. Moreover, Steinberg expresses his gratitude.

‘For Cologne fans it was the biggest night of our lives. Thanks for having us’

<h3>Throwback Thursday</h3>

This is in strong contrast to other papers such as the Daily Mirror where John Cross spoke of a throwback:

It was a sorry throwback to the shameful spectre of football’s hooligan days of the 1980s.

Violent yobs, drunken fans and a night of shame at the Emirates as 20,000 Cologne supporters went on the rampage.

Cross seems to forget here that English fans often behave in the same manner when going abroad. The same goes for Robert Peston who has had his European solidarity tested:

For some people a football match is still all about the war, without actually mentioning it:

The German newspaper Revier Sport which covers all sports in the Rhine/Ruhr area spoke of consternation. Consternation because out of 15000 peaceful supporters 50 behaved as though the old times are not over yet. In fact, Steinberg also mentioned these people but argued that this should not distract from the fact that the majority behaved well and came to enjoy themselves and support their team, FC Cologne who have not played in any European competition for 25 years. This is a very long time which explains the festive mood they were in.

Two days before Dortmund came to play a Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. There was nothing despite the Dortmund support being numerous and well seasoned as they are regulars on the European stage.

Yearning for the Strong Man

In History on September 11, 2017 at 07:00

The German poet, writer and novelist Gerhart Hauptmann was not associated closely with the NSDAP or national socialism, despite himself applying for membership in the party in 1932.

Hauptmann born in 1862 in Silesia did not come to writing easily. He tried working agriculture which exhausted him physically. In 1882 he went to take lessons in sculpting at Breslau University but was forced to leave after a year due to inappropriate behaviour. Stints in Rome and Dresden failed equally. Slowly he began work as a writer and it was this profession that has given him fulfilment and provided him with an income. From 1890 Hauptmann worked as a writer and was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in recognition of his achievements in drama.

When the First World War broke out, he signed the Manifest of the 93, which denied the claims by foreign sources that German soldiers committed criminal acts during the occupation of Belgium. The manifest also denied that Germany was the culprit for the outbreak of war.

However, he later became critical of the war and in 1918 he was one of the many public figures speaking out in favour of a German Republic.

This is even more surprising as a year before, in September 1917 he said that

‘Subconsciously we are yearning for a man, a strong man.’

His wish was to come through in 1933 when Hitler seized power and led Germany into a another disastrous war within 25 years. He was not a member of the party and the Nazis did go out of their way to dissuade him from emigrating. In that they succeeded but their ideology has not found its way into his writing.

It is nonetheless astonishing to see such a quote attributed to Hauptmann.

Hundred years later it seems that people are still yearning for a strong man ignoring history and its grim lessons.

Note: The quote by Gerhart Hauptmann is taken from Peter Vansittart’s book Voices From the Great War.

The featured image for this is a portrait (German: Der Dichter Gerhart Hauptmann) of Gerhart Hauptmann from 1912 by the German artist and painter Max Liebermann; via WikiCommons

The Wurst Nightmare

In Anglo-German Relations, Football on September 5, 2017 at 15:00

Remembering the early autumn of 2001 when Germany were beaten by England in Munich and I had no clue how to react to English banter.

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The Dilemma of the Left

In Politics on July 10, 2017 at 08:00

This weekend will go down in history. The G20 summit in Hamburg was accompanied by wide spread protests, many held in good faith and non-violent. Yet, the images that will stick in the collective memory for years to come will be those of rioting and looting in Hamburg.

Let’s be clear: I condemn violence. Protest and demonstrations should be peaceful. The lasting impression from this weekend however, will be that the Left is stuck in a cycle of violence. This way there will never be a left or leftist Renaissance.

The Left or anyone considering him- or herself to be on the left hand side of the political spectrum should really consider what is at stake. If riots and looting are all the Left has to offer, then it is condemned to its little corner.

If the Left however, manages to offer a viable alternative, one that offers safety and well being for all, one that has sustainability and the human at its centre, then will there be a chance. If this alternative is moreover inclusive unlike the current incumbent form of capitalism, chances may be even higher that it will succeed.

The G20 is the forum where the 20 most influential countries meet to discuss financial matters. In that alone it excludes the majority of countries. Why can’t there be a G180 or however many countries are left out of this summit to offer a counter image? An image of inclusiveness and open mindedness that would be in contrast to what the G20 have to offer.

Herein lies the chance of the Left. It’s up to them to take it.

photo credit: tama66 via pixabay under CC0 Public Domain

The EU tells UK: it’s not enough

In Brexit on June 28, 2017 at 13:30

The UK’s government has presented a policy paper outlining how the rights of EU citizens will be handled during and after the Brexit negotiations. It seems each move by the UK is met with more demands by the EU to amend the British policies to fit them with the EU’s positions. May has almost no options to navigate.

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Rule, Britannia

In Britain on June 19, 2017 at 06:00

Britannia rule the waves…

Most people are familiar with this song and the lyrics. It is a poem written by James Thomson in 1740 and set to music by Thomas Arne. Even though the British Empire was not yet as large and Britain was not yet ruling the waves, the song nonetheless stands for the British Empire like few other songs and depicts the idea of Britain as a nation of seaman and traders.

With the Brexit negotiations scheduled to begin on June 19, Britain will find itself at sea, mastering waves it has no experience of sailing. Instead the country will find itself lost at sea.

The ship is captained by a woman who doesn’t want to be there in the first place, her crew is waiting for a chance to get rid of her and the passengers have a gut feeling that this journey might end with their ship running aground.

England win the World Cup

In Stereotypes on June 14, 2017 at 09:15

An England team has achieved the unthinkable: winning the world cup.

We have to expect a parade in an open top bus where the team will be greeted by millions of people lining the streets in a wave of euphoria.

The prime minister will join the team in their celebration in a central London hotel to enjoy the sun in the shadow of this team. She will draw strength from this success for her upcoming​ challenge to the continent.

The England manager will postulate that his team will be unbeatable for decades to come and he as well as the team captain will be on the New Year’s honours list.

In the following decades England teams will be measured against this lot of youngsters and most of them will come up short in comparison. English self esteem is naturally on a high as England have proven that the Anglo-Saxon way to play is more successful than the fanciful display of the Southern Europeans and Americans. No trickery, just powerful surges forward have carried the Three Lions to the title.

There will be special editions of newspapers to mark every anniversary of this success. The retro industry will have a field day. Academics will publish books and articles placing the occasion into the wider socio-cultural background of Britain in 2017.

Across the globe England will be revered and English swagger will be dominating the terraces once again.

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