Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Good German

I guess I was almost the last of the generation that was bombed by the Germans. I was two when the war ended and although I lived in Aldershot, the home of the British Army, the nearest bomb fell about 10 miles away. Not so my wife's family who lived in east London. They had their doors and windows blown out by a doodlebug that landed in their street and my wife's mother found an unexploded incendiary in their back garden.

One of the songs of my youth was Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" which contains the lines, "Though they murdered 6 million, in the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too, have God on their side."

Although I look very Aryan, I am one sixteenth Jewish and my wife is three sixteenth Jewish. Had the Nazis invaded we might have been very vulnerable. Our parents were very anti-German and being brought up on British, black and white war films I was subjected to a lot of anti-German propaganda. Actors like Jack Hawkins, Dickie Attenborough, Kenneth More and Michael Caine were regularly defeating square-jawed Nazis with coal-scuttle helmets on our screens.

It is strange that we now complain that the German army is a afraid to get its hands dirty in places like Afghanistan.

I think it is important to remember that the Germans alive today had nothing to do with the war and my experience of them is that they are all very nice chaps. It is time to put to bed wartime propaganda. I learned recently, for example, that the RAF had no air-sea rescue capacity during the Battle of Britain. We lost a lot of pilots who were downed in the channel, but their lives were saved by German air-sea rescue craft. Not something those wartime films told us about.

Today, I want to commend one post-war German who has become a friend. His name is Michael Hallek and he is the lead author of the most important paper to be published on CLL in the last decade. This is the FC v FCR randomized controlled trial CLL8, which I shall be blogging about later. Michael is a fine Christian gentleman, who is very bright, very well organized and I am proud to know him.


Anonymous said...

Western liberals love to bash Germany. I've visited Germany four or five times, and I have to agree that the average German is not the friendliest or warmest group of people on the planet. They tend to (still) look down on everyone else. Even though I am of almost 100% German ancestry, Germany is not my favorite country. Too be honest, I like the French and the Greeks a lot better. Even the Italians are warmer than the 'superior' Germans.

Of course, the all-purpose 'bad guy' is a Nazi or even the German army circa WWII. That's one group you can always offend, with impunity. I think it's infected the country. That's why they've turned their backs on the military. Too bad.

Americans are not especially well-liked in Europe. This anti-Americanism is also prevalent in the UK. Watch their television programs, such as 'MI-5'. When the CIA is involved, or there is a strange murder spree, and there is an American around, you can be absolutely sure that he's the guilty one. You don't have to follow the clues or do any thinking. The American is always guilty.

It's especially bad if the American has a Southern accent. This group, for some reason, is ridiculed by the Brits. Ditto if they are religious. Then the gloves come off. I suppose the worst would be an American from the South, who is very religious. Might as well just shoot him in the first frame, and get it over with!

As American becomes more and more 'diverse', there is less and less of a tie with the British. We more or less share a common language, but few of us actually have ancestors who hailed from the British Isles. If I'm not mistaken, I think there are more Americans with German ancestry than British.

Chonette said...

I lived in Germany for many years and always felt at home there, there are many things in their ways of life that I identify myself and for years I felt it was thanks to their kindness that I learn so much when I first came to live in Europe.
I have often joked that if I liked German things very much in the past, now that my SCT donor was German, I must be even more German in my taste.
I had the pleasure to meet Michael Hallet at Lugarno back in 2008, I have great respect for him and his work.