Why Players Don’t Sing the German Anthem

Some people have asked me why now, during the FIFA World Cup, some members of the German national soccer team are seen not singing the German national anthem. This is of course their decision. A lot of German soccer players were born in another country before accepting German citizenship, so they may not feel German, or they may feel like an imposter singing it.

However, it also has to be acknowledged that in Germany, singing the anthem is not much of a big deal. A significant number of Germans don’t know the text of the anthem. It is not sung at schools. If the German anthem is played at soccer matches, many people won’t stop talking to their neighbour. There are no “Germany, Germany” chants like there are “U – S – A, U – S – A” chants either.


Germans are just not that patriotic

Nobody in Germany except Neo-Nazis will clearly say “I am proud to be German”. That is a big no-no. National pride is associated with the Nazis – yes they overdid it, but many Germans blame patriotism as a whole for the ease with which Hitler was able to manipulate the nation (and the ease with which certain other nations allow themselves to be manipulated nowadays).

Many Germans will also argue that it is simply illogical to be proud of the accident of birth that could have just as easily placed you in Rwanda. It’s not your achievement to be born in a prosperous country. Moreover, why be proud of your nation’s achievements when you haven’t done anything to create them? It’s amazing how some people can be proud that their country is a democracy as if they themselves had overthrown the tyrants, when they don’t even go vote.

That being said, you can find Germans who are paradoxically “proud of not being proud”. They (and I myself am tending more and more towards that view) are proud of Germany for being basically the only nation that has identified patriotism as the root of much evil and done away with it. Read more about this kind of pride in Navid Kermani’s recent speech on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the German constitution. (3rd section)

So what to you think? Leave a comment and let me know!