United Germans shed anthem shame
Thanks to football, national anthem is no longer unsavoury to the Germans. Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | Gamesindia Updated: Jun 30, 2006 17:57 IST
German fans and players have finally dusted off their long-taboo national anthem for the football World Cup, no longer ashamed to belt it out, loud and proud, to cheer on the home team.
As the country revels in a new patriotism fuelled by the German side's run to the quarter-finals, Haydn's lilting melody for the "Deutschlandlied" has become the soundtrack and now almost everyone is singing along for the first time since World War II.
Because anything to do with national identity is extremely delicate in Germany due to enduring shame over its Nazi past, an act as natural as singing the national anthem at a sporting event has made waves here.
Most German players in the postwar years, like most Germans, bowed their heads when the band struck up the anthem.
But Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who spends most of the year in California and describes US-style patriotism as inspiring, has encouraged his players to sing along. Surprisingly, most seem to know the lyrics.
In the televised coverage of the matches, the camera has moved from the team to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who smiles each time her mouth forms the opening verse, and then to fans chanting unisono amid a sea of black-red-gold flags.
"I like the fact the national team sings the anthem," Merkel told Wednesday's issue of Sport Bild magazine.
"And I find it particularly nice that so many people have sung along. I think we should enjoy the World Cup and be happy. What really impresses our guests is the enthusiasm in the stadiums, even when Germany is not playing.