Music and German Identity

April 24th, 2012 by tiedemann3lea3s

Lea Tiedemann (1996), HPS Buxtehude/Germany

It is quite difficult to find a song which represents the German identity because there are many negative songs dealing with National Socialism but also many positive songs. Additionally there is the German national anthem and composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and so on. The German stereotype is more about the old composers and folk music than about new German bands but that doesn’t mean that we all identify with Bach and his music.

The national anthem of Germany is the third verse of the “Deutschlandlied” by August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben. The melody comes from the anthem “Gott erhalte Franz, den Kaiser” by Joseph Haydn. In the time of the Weimar Republic the complete version of the “Deutschlandlied” was the national anthem. While Adolf Hitler governed Germany only the first verse was sung followed by the “Horst-Wessel-Lied” which became the anthem of the NSDAP. Today nobody sings the first or the second verse because they are associated with National Socialism and war and forbidden in our country.

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
sind des Glückes Unterpfand:
|: Blüh im Glanze dieses Glückes,
blühe, deutsches Vaterland! :|

Unity, Justice and Freedom
for the German Fatherland.
Let’s all strive towards this Purpose
Brotherly, with Heart and Hand.
Unity, Justice and Freedom
are the Promise of Happiness.
|: Flourish in this Blessing’s Glory,
Flourish, German Fatherland. :|

I think that the German anthem is not enough to describe our identity although the story which is connected with the song, is quite exciting. So I looked for two other examples of German musicians singing songs about Germany.

Modern German bands like “Die Prinzen“ produced a positive song about Germany. It is called “Das alles ist Deutschland” and deals for example with German cars, taxes, housekeeping and sports and that we are allowed to be proud of being German but it doesn’t matter how positive a song about Germany is, you think always of the Holocaust.

A really negative song about Germany is “Willkommen in Deutschland” by “Die Toten Hosen”. It is about the hate against foreign people and that Germans don’t accept people who are different. The band also mentions the point that media says that Germans are German again when they hear about racist stories.

Die Prinzen – Das alles ist Deutschland:

Die Toten Hosen – Willkommen in Deutschland:

posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

European Identity

March 20th, 2012 by tiedemann3lea3s

By Lea Tiedemann (15), HPS Buxtehude/Germany

“European Identity” is an expression which is hard to define. How you interpret European identity depends on how you define identity and European. Identity usually means that the personality and the characteristics of something are the same or at least similar. But what does European mean? Is it just including politics and economy? Or also culture? Is there actually a European identity?

If you want to identify with Europe you have to get to know some European countries and their cultures. The more countries you know the more you can understand what Europe is and how to identify with it. It is also helpful to speak foreign languages because communication between our countries is the basis of an identity. But there is also a problem according to this point. Not everybody has the chance to travel to other countries and not everybody has the opportunity to learn foreign languages. So you could say that for some people it is difficult to understand what Europe is right at the beginning. Another point to mention is our European history. Ancient Greece and ancient Rome are of course fundamental for our Europe of today. The culture of the ancient world formed important characteristics of our identity, but you don’t associate all European countries with the typical history of for example Julius Caesar or buildings from Renaissance. Additionally Christendom is very important for our history and also the present. When you take a closer look at these points you can recognize that Europe is separated into two parts: the western side with its culture most people call “European” and the eastern side.According to the last point you should refer to the eastern European expansion of the EU which is a big step forward when you talk about a European identity. A common identity is also good when it comes to democratic decisions because it is easier to find a solution for a problem when every EU member can identify with the others. In addition the European council appoints values which should be aspired to by every member state. Those values are for example human rights, democracy, constitutional legality and liberty. But there are just 27 countries which are members of the EU and there are 45 countries in whole Europe, so you have to deal carefully with this aspect.In general you have to be clear about your national identity before you can define a European identity. So every state will maybe come to other results and this will make a common identity much more difficult.

All in all you could say that there is no real common European identity because there are too many different cultures, but the European Union is very important for our identity and takes the first step to create one. Finally it may develop an identity which will represent nearly all of us.

posted on Tuesday, March 2oth, 2012

Foto Challenge: German and European Identity

January 21st, 2012 by tiedemann3lea3s

Lea Tiedemann, HPS Buxtehude/Germany

It’s true that Germany is a country where many people drink beer but what many people don’t know is that Germany also invented beer during lenten season. It was forbidden to drink wine when lenten season began. For that reason a religious order developed a new alcoholic drink. The pope had to give his agreement so they brought some beer to let him try it but the beer was already addled. The taste was so bad that the pope gave his agreement and from this day on it was allowed to drink beer during lenten season.

All in all, you could say that drinking beer is not just a German stereotype. It is actually really part of our history and culture.

The Warsaw Genuflection on December 7 in 1970 was an important date in the history of the relationship between Germany and Poland. Before the Treaty of Warsaw was signed Willy Brandt put down a wreath in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. Instead of resting in an upright position he knelt down. Everybody was very surprised and most people understood this event as an apology for everything that happened in World War II.

This picture shows that Germany was the country that was blamed for many terrible actions in the last century. Germany was blamed for World War I and Germany was blamed for the death of millions of jews. Feeling guilty and abject seemed to be a part of the German character and in Germany there are still people who are not proud of being German.

Especially football is a sport which is typical of most of Europe. The European Football Championship (in Poland and Ukraine in 2012) is an important sport event where many European countries come together. In general you also feel your national identity more while sport events are taking place because you are mourning and celebrating with your country.

Music is something that moves the people and causes a feeling of togetherness. The Eurovision Song Contest is a very good example of European identity and of a modern way of music that also connects  Europe. First the competition was called Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson and it was established by the European Broadcasting Union in 1956. The main idea of the Eurovision Song Contest was to show other countries’ identities.

The European Union is an economic-political alliance of 27 countries. This special form of international cooperation is unique in the whole world. Working together closely is an important part of our identity. Especially our shared currency connects 17 of our members and doesn’t exist in the same form on any other continent.

Our religion has been connecting us for over a thousand years and you recognize that it’s still important today because of the reason that many of us still believe in God. And when the pope comes for example to Germany, it is always a big event and the pope gets celebrated. It’s a fact that almost all Europeans are Christians and so it’s an important part of our identity. Our religion is also something that nobody can take away from us, which makes it even more important.

posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2012