Weltmeister

When I traveled to the United States for the first time ever, a year and a half ago, I thought that I have never seen a country more obsessed with its national flag. Everywhere you threw your glance, it was almost impossible to find a view that didn’t include the star-spangled in all it glory: printed on clothing items, displayed on various paraphernalia or just waving proudly from rooftops, cars or front lawns.

And then I got to see Germany during the World Cup.

"World Champion" buttons at a German retail store © Alexandra Belopolsky

“World Champion” buttons at a German retail store
© Alexandra Belopolsky

Germany is – for well known reasons – extremely sensitive towards anything that has to do with patriotism or national pride. Even the German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) celebrations are unusually understated in comparison to other independence days around the world. Displays of the black-red-golden banner are treated with high suspicion, and usually place the displayer(s) in the far-right corner.

With two exceptions: The Eurovision and soccer.

A bakery in Bonn © Alexandra Belopolsky

A bakery in Bonn
© Alexandra Belopolsky

International contests seem to provide Germans with the relief of finally being unapologetically proud of their country. And much like with teenagers who went to single-sex religious schools, once they get a taste of freedom – all barriers are gone (no, we are not going to discuss my education now).

A store display in Cologne © Alexandra Belopolsky

A store display in Cologne
© Alexandra Belopolsky

One expects the usual soccer merchandise

 © Alexandra Belopolsky

© Alexandra Belopolsky

It’s even understandable

Display window of a German retail store  © Alexandra Belopolsky

Display window of a German retail store
© Alexandra Belopolsky

And the cheap flag-colored toys make sense

Soccer fan paraphernalia at a German supermarket © Alexandra Belopolsky

Soccer fan paraphernalia at a German supermarket
© Alexandra Belopolsky

as do the special cosmetics editions

essence World Cup line © Alexandra Belopolsky

essence World Cup line
© Alexandra Belopolsky

Even the jewelry is understandable – for teenies

© Alexandra Belopolsky

© Alexandra Belopolsky

and for grown-ups alike

© Alexandra Belopolsky

© Alexandra Belopolsky

Sometimes it’s even cute

World Cup donuts at a bakery © Alexandra Belopolsky

World Cup donuts at a bakery
© Alexandra Belopolsky

But then it starts to get a bit too much

Flag-colored sour candy stripes at Hussel © Alexandra Belopolsky

Flag-colored sour candy stripes at Hussel…
© Alexandra Belopolsky

.... and at Haribo © cashya79 on Instagram

…. and at Haribo
© cashya79 on Instagram

and send unfortunate implications

Flag-colored lollipops (and unfortunate implications) at Hussel ©  Alexandra Belopolsky

Flag-colored lollipops at Hussel
© Alexandra Belopolsky

Eventually , it crosses over into the realms of the exaggerated

Special M&M's edition © Alexandra Belopolsky

Special M&M’s edition
© Alexandra Belopolsky

the inexplicable

© Alexandra Belopolsky

© Alexandra Belopolsky

the strange

Bath sponges © on Instagram

Soccer bath sponges
© margotbu on Instagram

and the bizzare

I... I don't even know... © mebila on Instagram

I… I don’t even know…
© mebila on Instagram

There’s even a hashtag for this now: #SinnlosesWM2014Gedöns (#senslessWorldCup2014stuff)

Screenshot_2014-06-06-20-28-52

Do look it up

Screenshot_2014-06-06-20-28-30

The fun never ends!!

Screenshot_2014-06-06-20-27-52

This is not to say that German society is not split over this. Leftist Germans tend to swing between incomprehension of the whole whoo-ha and outright contempt for anything and anyone displaying the national tricolor. The place I’m currently typing this in, a lefty/queer café in Neukölln, Berlin, hung out a sign at the entrance saying “No black-red-gold in here!”. Further down the street, someone hung out a flag that covers their whole balcony.

Happy World Cup, everybody!

DE toy - mebila

About Girl in Glasses

Freelance journalist
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One Response to Weltmeister

  1. etfaust says:

    The World Cup holds power like very little else. Great post.

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