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July 2007 - Nr. 7


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After the World Cup

More than Beer and Bratwurst

What the World Thinks of Germany,
One Year After the World Cup

TWIG - The summer of 2006 was a time to make friends in Germany, as over a million soccer fans from across the world enjoyed German hospitality. The world watched as Germany reveled in an unprecedented groundswell of national pride and optimism after years of frustrating economic stagnation.

The press proclaimed that Germany emerged from the World Cup a more self-confident and cheerful nation. Of course, a 3.9 billion euro boost to the economy through consumption by foreign guests and the creation of 20,000 permanent tourism jobs helped fortify the national ego as well.

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international news broadcaster wanted to find out whether any of that pixie dust from the "summer fairy tale" rubbed off on the rest of the world. Deutsche Welle asked its viewers and listeners to respond to the question, "What do you associate with Germany, the host of the World Cup?" Over 15,000 responded to the call, not just with letters, but with drawings, collages, and songs as well.

As a special 2007 edition of the Deutsche Welle magazine "Weltzeit" reports, people across the world have a sophisticated and largely positive view of Germans. "Germany is making an important contribution to promoting peace and preventing conflict" writes Marcel Kanyangulat from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly 800 German troops were stationed until last November as part of the EUFOR peacekeeping mission.

In addition to Germany’s role on the international stage, many respondents cherished German cultural traditions. "Coffee and cake in the afternoon is a wonderful institution," wrote Steve Simmonds from England.

Of course, persistent stereotypes still define some people’s view of Germany. For Peng Peng Ten from Kuala Lumpur, Germany is still the "Land of sauerkraut and frankfurters, oom-pah-pah bands and Oktoberfest." Elaine L. Davey from New Zealand says that Germany is about "lederhosen and dirndl."

In lederhosen or not, the German people also get kudos for trustworthiness. "I see Germans as serious people who keep their word," says the 19 year old Romanian Stefan Mihela.

Overall, the responses reflect a recognition that Germany is a land of more than beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and dirndl. People across the world are as likely to think of Germans fighting leprosy and tuberculosis in Nigeria, guaranteeing equal rights for all races, religions, and nationalities at home and building high quality cars as they are to think of heel slapping Schuhplattler.

Of course, people across the world are also keen to point out something that Germans do not always remember. Beer and bratwurst taste great, and that lederhosen are actually practical hiking attire. With the national mood still riding high a year after the World Cup, perhaps Germans themselves are also learning to relax and enjoy the bratwurst.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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