A Letter to Our German Friends
Ever since Königgrätz, when you Germans ran out onto the football field, we’ve been rooting for the other team. Now it’s ok if you win the European Cup. We have something to offer in return.
by Christian Ultsch
Maybe the news hasn’t gotten all the way up to Usedom, but suddenly we like you. Just imagine: Half of us wouldn’t even mind if you won the European Cup. And most of us think that the moussaka you made in the quarterfinals out of that Greek concrete wall Özil, Khedira & Co. was just great. Yes, we absolutely agree, the Greeks shouldn’t be part of the Euro (whichever).
My own son has been running around with a Lukas Podolski T-shirt already for months. Not everyday of course. He also has a Schalke, Bremen, Bayern-Munich, and Gladbach kits. A few years ago that would have been impossible in Austria. Responsible parents would never have allowed anything like that.
A Bub (Austrian for boy), that is, a Junge (German) with a Berti Vogts jersey at the park? Unthinkable! Although for you, a Berti Vogt fan would probably have been unthinkable.
You can’t imagine how it used to be: On principle, when the Germans were playing, we were cheering for the other team. It didn’t matter whether they were from Albania, North Korea, or the Soviet Union.
And when you lost against Croatia in the quarterfinals in 1998 (0:3!), we went dancing in the streets.
Now everything is different. And that doesn’t only have to do with the fact that Germany plays more elegantly now. Beckenbauer, Breitner and Müller didn’t just stand around either. Even so, there wasn’t any overt demonstration of support for the World Cup champions of 1974.
No, it goes deeper. Youngsters don’t hate you Piefkes, you “Krauts”, anymore. It comes from watching lots of TV. And well, you’ve changed too. You’ve become a lot more easygoing and relaxed; you’re no longer so stiff and über-correct.
That’s why we’ve forgotten all the mean things you did: Königgrätz, the Anschluss, stuff like that.
We used to laugh about you, because you didn’t have a sense of humour. But now we laugh at your comedians. Some of us even think that Atze Schröder is funny. (It’s also possible to overdo it in our love for you.)
If things continue like this, soon there’ll be German-Austrian holiday clubs at the Ballermann beach on Mallorca. By the way, apparently the new boss at Raiffeisen is already considering putting on an annual Eisbein [pickled ham hock] dinner, instead of a Sauschädl [lit. pig skull, Austrian dialect for Eisbein] feast.
So, dear Germans, we have opened our hearts. And we’ve also already done a lot for you. You yourselves know that Jogi Löw learned his trainer tricks with FK Austria Vienna.
Maybe you could be just as generous someday. Why not be nice and give a chance to a couple of our hot shots too? Werner Faymann, for example, who likes your chancellor, because all he does is repeat everything she says. He would be a great city housing councillor for Düsseldorf: There’s certainly enough to do there.
And our Austro-pop Titan Reinhard Fendrich would certainly fit into Bohlen’s “Super Talent” jury. And do please keep a little spot free for Marko Arnautovic as police spokesperson in Bremen, but only after he and Alaba have kicked you out of the World Cup qualifiers.
Cross my heart and hope to die: We like you, we really do.
Born in Vienna in 1969, Christian Ultsch has worked as a journalist and editor at the Austrian daily, Die Presse since 1996. In 2004, he became the paper’s editor for international affairs, and co-edits Die Presse am Sonntag, since 2009. From 2003-2004, Ultsch was Die Presse’s correspondent in Berlin.
Translation by Cynthia Peck