July 05, 2006

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere for the Working Classes

Photo: AFP: German coach Jürgen Klinsmann and captain Michael Ballack after the semi-final defeat.

In my tower well above all buildings in the vicinity, I followed the semi-final between Germany and Italy by what did NOT happen as I followed the entire World Cup so far by listening to the noises and vibrations around and below me and then checking in the Internet.

I don't watch, hell... I don't HAVE television!

Yesterday night, the suspense, and then the despair, was palpable.

Photo: AP

Today, SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL put is most aptly:
On Tuesday night, one second after Germany lost 2-0 to Italy, it was as if someone had pulled the plug on Germany's World Cup party... The cheers, the cries of "Deutschland, Deutschland," the honking of horns, the whole wall of sound that has echoed around cities since June 9 ended within a second of the final whistle.
I wouldn't have minded if Germany had lost in the final. I just wished that the wonderful illusion of a merry, lighthearted, not overly self-conscious and dour Germany would have lasted a couple of days longer.

Coach Sepp Herberger and captain Fritz Walter are carried off the field on the shoulders of supporters following the 'Bern Miracle' in 1954. (Photo: DPA)

More than any other comparable country, Germany identifies itself by its football performance. Why that is so is a question that would go beyond the scope of an entry in a humble blog. Fact is, that for modern Germany the 3-2 victory over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup still is the "Bern Miracle" -- das Wunder von Bern, a founding legend, an identification tool -- something like a working class version of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. So shortly after WWII, it became not just a sign of being accepted by the world again, but that Germans could beat the world and be admired for it. Football players had always been those with whom all Germans, torn apart as they may be otherwise, could most easily identify -- in victory and in defeat.

See you all in four years time in South Africa. (Well, not really ...) But it won't be the same.