Monday, October 11, 2010

Leaving the world war image behind...

When Americans think of Germany, the Nazis and Hitler are certainly one of the first things they think of. World War II has major appeal to many, perhaps because what happened was so beyond comprehension or because America played a big part in helping to defeat the 'ultimate evil' of that time. Certainly the media plays a role as well. With the exception of lederhosen and beer, Germany doesn't really get recognized for too much else in pop culture. Without even doing a search, I can list a handful of movies/shows that reinforce this: Eurotrip, the Simpsons, Inglorious Bastards, Schindler's List, La Vita e Bella, The Pianist and the list goes on.

Nuremberg is certainly an important city in regards to this historical time period, but its easy to forget how recent this history is. Nuremberg, like many German cities in 1945, was 90% destroyed by bombs. The fact that I can walk along streets that less than 70 years ago were entirely rubble (see picture below) is a bit mind-numbing. The former Adolf Hitler Platz (which became the name of many main markets during the war) is now back to being the normal Hauptmarkt where you can buy fresh flowers and fruits and vegetables at most times of the year. With the exception of the Dokuzentrum, the former Nazi Party rally grounds (a bit outside of the city--which is now a huge park) and a few photos/postcards, one would never guess.

Though they are force-fed Second World War history every year in school (and I’ve been told it is required by some schools for the students to visit a concentration camp), Germans certainly don't walk around with their heads down. The war still continues to effect politics in many ways but even that is beginning to change. Germany isn’t just willing to pay for things anymore out of guilt, and they have and continue to contribute to the economy, technologies and sciences in Europe and in the world at large.

If you consider that they started and (lost) two major world wars, had their cities bombed to the ground, their country split in half (one under socialist ideology and the other capitalist) and then unified together again all in just 65 years, and yet still manage to hold their own on a global scale--I think they deserve some credit.