Why were Nazi soldiers called Krauts?
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Whenever a Wehrmacht soldier was shot, cheers broke out in the packed cinema in Leicester Square in London: Whether Steven Spielberg knows the emotions of his war epic Private Ryan releases in young English?
These emotional outbursts are by no means an isolated phenomenon. If you ask around, you will hear something alarming. Children from mixed English-German marriages, completely Anglicized and without a hint of accent, are teased and marginalized by classmates. Pupils at the German School in the London borough of Richmond have had to experience time and again that they were insulted as "Nazis" by English youths on the bus ride home. Others tried in vain to make friends in the football club, where even the coach only dubbed them "Hitlerboys". Many German-English married couples with children of school age know such experiences, which they report reluctantly; she didn't want to "add fuel to the fire," one mother told me. In the summer of 1996, after the broadcast of a television documentary for the BBC, in which I had tracked down the reasons for the growing Germanophobia on the island, I received a flood of letters, faxes and telephone calls. Germans who had lived in the country for years and believed they were integrated complained about the hostility of those around them. In the course of the nineties, once friendly neighbors had distanced themselves; They kept finding newspaper articles in their mailboxes, mostly from bourgeois papers such as Daily Mail , express and Daily Telegraph , peppered with anti-German tirades and accusations such as "British have to pay for the German pension deficit because of the EU".
It wasn't always that bad. Until the late 1980s, the British referred to the Germans as their best friends in Europe. Diplomats raved about the "silent alliance", despite the antipathy between Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl. But when Gallup last asked about the "best friends of the British" in 1992 (no one wants to know exactly anymore), only 12 percent of respondents named Germans instead of 28. Trust in the Allies on the Rhine has also been lost. In 1986 28 percent said they had "great confidence" and only 18 percent had "no confidence at all". The October 1995 figures, however, signaled a sharp turnaround: only 10 percent "trust" the Germans, 35 percent have "no confidence at all". At the same time, fear of a renaissance of National Socialism grew. In 1977, 23 percent expected it, in 1992 this figure had soared to 53 percent and has leveled off there since then.
The good Germans were the divided Germans
The reason for the profound change in mood is, we may assume, the end of the post-war order, in which divided Germany was integrated into a European security system. The good Germans were the divided Germans.
It is now true that the British, and above all their largest tribe, the English, have always been quite hearty with other nations. Whether Frogs, Dagos, or Whops - French, Spanish or Black - they all get their fat off. But we Krauts undeniably hold a special position in demonology. "Krautbashing" is omnipresent, told me an English friend, whose job as a computer specialist leads to countless companies in the Greater London area. A lot resonates: a touch of reluctant respect, a bit of envy and certainly also fear. English football fans get relief after their team's defeat against Germany with a defiant "Two World Wars and a World Cup". In finer circles, where rugby and cricket are preferred, the subtle form of confrontation is cultivated by giving Noel Coward's ironic invitation "Don't be beastly to the Hun" followed exactly as it was intended.
Certainly, first of all, the state and economic relations between Germany and Great Britain will not be directly affected by changes in the mood. That may be one reason why the elites on the Thames and the Rhine did not notice or wanted to notice the extent of the icing for a long time. However, it is questionable whether BMW would have decided to buy Rover, had it come up with the idea of identifying the psychological profile of the typical Rover driver he was determined to opt for a notoriously fragile, poorly designed car simply because it was produced by a British company. It was clear from the start that some of the Rover clientele would not even buy a significantly improved car, because the company is now in German hands of all people.
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