Why Germany needed to win the World Cup

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Twelve us returned from a grand adventure to Munich and Berlin. It’s expected of one to hit the touristy stuff like gaping up at the Rathaus-Glockenspiel (giant chiming clock) in Marienplatz, Munich at five p.m. while drinking a fresh liter of Hefeweizen bier or admiring the Bavarian Alps especially at Neuschwanstein castle.

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While the architecture was stunning, the highlight of the trip was watching Germany play against Argentina in the World Cup. From the hotel window, as the full moon rose above an expectant populace, hundreds of thousands of Deutschlanders took to the streets to watch TVs project the game in alleys and squares or they reserved their seats in their favorite pub. We were privy to a country wide-awake and thrilled to take part in a national event equal to ten American Superbowls or New Year’s Eve in 1999 or what I imagine folks felt on V-E Day.

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The game ended around midnight in Munich and cars and people clogged the streets with a rupture of cheers, chants, and fireworks that lasted until three a.m. That was our last night in Munich and the group boarded the ICE train next day and headed north to experience Berlin.

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Did you know that Berlin has more canals than Venice and is built on swamp land? During World War II over 370 bombings dropped by the Allies destroyed almost all the city. If you know anything about WWII, you know it was a civilian war where all sides destroyed the moral heart of their enemies–the inhabitants.  Matthias was a unique guide who grew up for the first 27 years of his life in East Berlin. He showed us the sights and explained what it felt like to be German. As he showed us the Berlin Wall, a stretch standing about a city block on the East side of the city, it was a popular stop for the tourist because this section hosted artists from around the world to paint a panel.

If you visit Berlin, you will see the snake of cobble stones trace the removed wall embedded in the city streets. Straddling what was once East and West Berlin, marveling at the Surrealist work of Salvador Dali, passing by Checkpoint Charlie, visiting Nefertiti in the Neus Museum, gawking at the gorillas in Berlin Zoo, or walking the lush lawn of Teufel Park, it was a special time. Matthias would be the first to point out that the city’s architecture is ugly compared to Paris or London or Rome, but there is beauty to experience and his passion and pride for his city was infectious.

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When the heroes returned from Argentina, 500,000 Berliners celebrated their victory in front of Brandenburg Gate. We watched at a Bier garden and listened to Matthias explain how this wasn’t just a sporting event. For the first time in seventy years, Germans were proud to hang out their national flag. Inheriting the legacy of Nazism and the Holocaust hasn’t been easy. For the first time, Deutschlanders set aside the shame and regret of their past and rejoiced as a country.

Is it possible to remember, “lest we forget”, but move on, too? I sure don’t have the answer, but I will assert the World Cup win was a refreshing tonic.

25 thoughts on “Why Germany needed to win the World Cup

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    1. It was beyond creepy. Walking through the gas chamber and turning back to see him standing there looking at me was haunting. In general, the trip was great and everyone had a fine time. 🙂

  1. Wonderful photos, even better post. Great stuff Cindy! I really wish I was able to watch this final match, but alas, I was stuck at work.

    1. Hi Tom, thank you very much! A fine example of being at the right place at the right time. My group thought I was a magician who ordered the WC win right up for their amusement ;). The energetic vibe was palpable. Prost!

  2. Lovely post, Cindy, and I’d have to say, my German friends all seem to have a slightly brighter gleam to their dispositions lately. The restructuring from such devastation is a long haul road, but hope and determination are marvelous and moving things.
    Cheers to you!

    1. My pleasure, of course. I’m always flattered when the “movie buff” crowd responds to my photography/adventure posts. Very happy to have participated and to share. 🙂

  3. My wife was born and raised in Germany – left when she was 15. Her parents were caught up in WW2. There was no ‘choice’ in Hitler’s Germany. You were either for him – or against him. If you were against him you died. Simple as that. So many Germans went along with this madman. It’s amazing they were able to rebuild their country from ashes – literally – and have gained the strongest economy in Europe. Astounding people. But Yes … Hitlers stigma still Sadly hangs over everything. But maybe it should. ??? Yet war still rages everywhere – and madmen still run governments. If something good comes from the World Cup win … I hope so.

    1. Thanks for sharing, JC! Rose and her parents have scars I can only imagine. Everyone was affected by the madman. I’m glad they escaped. Seems naive to think a game could be fix it all, but if it is in the step in the right direction toward a positive unificaiton, I’m all for it 🙂

  4. Hi Cindy–Q: on the Berlin Wall, artists from around the world made that mural through a collaboration among the artists? Do you know when they did this?

  5. The pictures show us what a wonderful time you had at Munich – the world cup explosion of cheer must have been ear cracking!! (to say the least). I don’t know why Venice got all the acclaim for canals, when ever Fort Lauderdale, FL has more !

    1. Hi GP: Oh, I reckon because it’s a floating city, a small one at that 😉
      I stuffed tissue in my ears and a pillow over my head and still I could the merry-making outside the hotel window. I didn’t mind 🙂

  6. I’d consider myself fortunate to be in Munich at any time, it seems like you were doubly fortunate to be able to experience a once in a lifetime occasion.
    I’m going to spend tonight wishing I could be in Bavaria tomorrow enjoying a mid-morning snack of Weisswurst and wheat beer:)

      1. I don’t pay attention to the World Cup either. It was enlightening to visit a culture that holds it in high regard. The implications of the cup beyond the sport is what really got me. A special trip, a special victory indeed!

  7. I felt your photographs and travels were a wonderful experience. I really liked how you closed this post, Cindy.
    We fid not have gas chambers nor concentration camps like Germany. But we had internment camps holding Japanese, slaughtered Native Americans and even though we won Texas from Mexico, not sure that was as it appears nor do we stand innocent of slavery. So, yes. We need to put behind the extremely hateful things all peoples have impacted on others.
    We need to count our wins and stop focusing on past losses. Learn from what went on and move forward as a world.
    My Grandma came from Germany as a teen with her mother before WWII. She met my Grandpa, an immigrant from Sweden, on a street corner ib New Yor k City. They both had pride in most of what went on in their New land, America.

    1. Robin, you are so right. Pick a culture and their will be atrocities and savagery somewhere in their history. Even neutral, friendly Sweden had their Vikings. I enjoy hearing about your grands and the concept of the immigrant American and pride is an important topic to me. Thanks for your comment! You’re great to read and comment on my posts, Robin.
      Where do you live?

      1. I live in Delaware, OH a university town I picked when I was a single mom of 3 kids. I am blessed that 2 of 3 live here, both son and daughter have children. Attending 2 different elementary schools here in town
        . I live in a one bedroom apt downtown where I walk to the library, post office, restaurants and park. I retired from teaching (was trying to reach Master’s by 2008 for No Child Left Behind Act enforcement date) and work in physical labor at a warehouse. 🙂

        1. Robin, very interesting! So you no longer teach. I love teaching, but itch to write full time or do other work related to writing. Can’t give up the teaching pension, so there you go! My 3 grown children, 2 of them live her in AZ and the other son is back “home” in my native state, Illinois. Thanks for sharing!

      2. I skipped to end of your comment and answered it first, I am saddened, as you mentioned about every culture’s use of “savagery.” Not sure if we have progressed much and feel we still are uncivilized in many ways. I do try to approach life in a positive manner, though.

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