In the last 3 hours, Deutschland has gone through one of the most important changes since WWII and the reunification of East and West in the early 90's.
For 3 weeks already, Germany has been host of the Soccer World Cup (Fussball Weltmeisterschaff) and have fought from the first kick-off up to the semi-finals. Millions of people from around the world have cheered and celebrated here, as well as created international friendships, broken down stereotypes and boarders, and have discovered Germany as a modern and tolerant nation, full of history and traditions. As a relatively new nation, only ca. 15 years old, the people of the Federal Republic of Germany has struggled to come to terms with their past and have fought for the world to see who they are today, and not based on their history. The entire world is watching what is happening here. But not only has an amazing change occured through the international recognation of a tolerant and open Germany, but also a revolutionary one inside the hearts of the Germans.
The general German population carries the burden of what happened over 60 years ago. It is deeply engrained into their mindframe and culture. They are ashamed and are not particularily proud of their country. It is almost treason to sing the national anthem and the appearance of a german black, red, and yellow flag makes people cringe.
But in the last 3 weeks, for the first time in 60 years, the German's are waving newly made flags, flying proudly with their fold creases! As you walk down the street, the black, red, and yellow is hanging on houses and trailing behind cars. The newspapers and magazines are publishing testamonies of forigners about what they are discovering here and how their opinions of Deutschland have changed. Peace and anti-racism campaigns are racing across the TV ad spaces and city billboards. And everywhere you look there are German's helping forigners, whether by translating, waving pedestrians across the street as they sit in their cars at the corners, or simply having a good time and partying it up. And as the semi-finals began, just 3 hours ago, millions of German's stood hand in hand singing their own national anthem... the players on the fields, the childeren and families in the stands, the color bedeckted fans on the streets, and Angela Merkel (the Chancellor) in her box, together and PROUD! I have never seen such hopefull and proud faces, on the verge of crying, as so many people struggled to read the relatively new words on the screen and follow the blaring melody in a mush of sound.
Well, the game was well played. It ended 0:0. Germany played against Italy. The two 15 minute extentions nearly ended 0:0, until in the last 90 seconds, when Italy scored two goals.
What happened next, in my opinion was more impressive than seeing (and hearing) the national anthem being sung. Germany cried. Tears fell down the cheeks of the players, the fans fell into each other's arms, and it feels like the heavens broke open in sympathy. But, what happened is that Germany cried together as one nation, with a present, past, and a future. The players and the people lost their dream, als Weltmeister zu werden! (to become the World Champions!) but they gained A LOT more.
They have gained a new identity.