Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I once thought comic singer Tom Lehrer had the lock on anti-German lines (try Wernher Von Braun and MLF Lullaby from his 1965 album That Was The Year That Was). But David Clay Large's Berlin (2001)--a history of the German capital--repeated (at 618) this Jay Leno quip from a 1990 Tonight Show:
I'm sure that you have heard that Germany has been reunited. The only question now, I guess, is when it will go on tour again.


Assistant Village Idiot said...


The Germans defend themselves by saying it was "only" in the 20th C, when they seemed to go crazy, for some unknown reason. Only twice. And largely because other Europeans, plus Russians, were also going crazy at the time. And if you hold with the modern historians (as I do) that WW's I & II were really the same war, with an interregnum, then only once. It's a persuasive argument, in some ways.

But when we consider that uh, Anglo-Saxons settled England, which conquered the world, plus the largely-German Reformation, plus the rise of nationalism led by German unification of small provinces, plus...

Well, you get the idea. There seems to be a restlessness in this people that has both positive and negative aspects.

Hey, this was about a joke, Carl. Am I ruining your post? I'll back off. Except to say Bismarck. The Fall of Rome. Barbarossa.

Carl said...

It wasn't only the 20th century. The 1871 unification of Germany altered Europe's balance of power sufficiently to cause three wars in 75 years. The two World Wars were the same war--together with the Franco Prussian War. (The Cold War and the EU froze that (for different reasons, obviously).)

I'm a bit of a Germanophile. Though I have little facility for languages, I can the German language read and understand (word order joke), albeit haltingly. And lately I've read several histories of Germany and Germans (including Luther, Frederick the Great, Bismark, the families Wagner and Krupp, Victor Klemperer, Von Braun). So I agree about the restlessness. But from Barbarossa to Operation Barbarossa and beyond, Germans are endlessly interesting.

BTW, I went to law school with Iris Von Braun, around whom talk of Tom Lehrer was verboten.