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Germany’s mark on the world stage

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POSTED July 17, 2014 12:43 a.m.

July 14, 2014.  Germany vs. Argentina in World Cup soccer finals. Germany wins 1-0 in a second extra period.

Germany enters game flushed after “blitzkrieg” in defeating, no, humiliating, Brazil, the soccer crazed nation with a billion people watching worldwide.

It was a German invasion similar to a march-through of much of Europe in World Wars I and II.

Picture German troops marching down the Champs d’ Elyeses after overrunning France in World War II, the Parisians weeping.  Now picture the Germans thumping Brazil’s soccer team, Brasilenos sobbing uncontrollably.

Some see the World Cup final as Germans vs. their cousins.

May 3, 1943.  Mary Bookman (nee Urk) is born in the Netherlands, then under German occupation.  Her father, a member of the resistance, is hiding in a forest, unable to help his wife.

Keeping in shadows to avoid occupying troops, the woman knocks on doors, begging for a cup of milk for her newborn. Can one forgive and forget?  Some can.  Maybe.  But memories are long and a study of history shows Germans marching even before the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, World Wars I and II.  Given the right set of circumstances, would they not march again to reclaim lost lands and avenge old slights.

Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, was a refugee.  During the debate over German unification, he said, “Well, if the two Germanys were not reunited, I would lose no sleep.”

Argentine history of accepting hundreds, if not thousands of Nazi war criminals is also on the record.  The names of Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichman,  Klaus Barbie, Franz Stangl, Erich Probe and hundreds of others are an indelible part of history, monsters who escaped judgment at Nuremburg to find soft lives in Argentina.

History also shows they were welcomed by Argentine despot Juan Peron, who sought their intellectual, scientific and economic talents. Strangley, he also permitted entry of thousands of Jews, more than any other country in South America, perhaps for the same reasons.

But can one throw stones at a nation that gave the world Beethoven, Bach and Brahms?

Can writers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Heinrich Boll, Herman Hesse, and Gunter Grasse not occupy seats in the Ppantheon of the Gods?

All through the humanities and sciences are German names too numerous to list.

Perhaps Germany is a two-headed entity with two minds.

As head of an international writers’ organization, Nobelist Heinrich Boll traveled often.  A fervent anti-fascist, Boll attempted to represent a new Germany, democratic and humane.  His biography read: “His approach and attitude were in direct contrast to the type of German that had become infamous all over the world.”

The other head, as exemplified by Dieter Dietrich Fiscau, thought to be the supreme vocal artist of the 20th Century.

“An essentially serious personality, he was all but humorless and self-confident to the point of everyone, two stereotypical German traits that occasionally crept into his performances.”

Composer Benjamin Britten, who admired the artist, in private called him a “school bully.”

Many years later, that Dutch baby, saved by a cup of beggared milk, is a grown woman who does remember.

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