But apart from crude outdated stereotypes, what exactly is the German identity? Is it even acceptable nowadays to say there is one?
What is not up for debate however are the statistics of this super power. Europe’s second most populous country is the fifth largest economy in the world and the first in Europe. This it owes to being a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals and household equipment.
The 20th century saw Germany engaged in two devastating World Wars that resulted in the country being occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949, with the latter occupying the East and the others the West.
All four countries formally relinquished occupied control in 1991, a year after the unification of Germany and the symbolic tearing down of the Berlin Wall on October 3, and from then the date became Germany’s new national day.
For many of the 1,400 of Phuket’s German community however, national day is not necessarily seen as an occasion to celebrate. To remember yes, but perhaps not for the reason that many nationals of other countries remember their national day.
Owner of the Kokosnuss Kamala Restaurant and German bakery, Thomas Moog from Nürnberg said, “These days it usually reminds me of how Germans acted in the past and in the present what wars we are involved in and how stupid they are.”
He added though that he did think the unification of Germany was a good thing and was in itself a good reason to celebrate. But while others may feel pride on such days, Thomas most certainly will not.
“I believe one thing we can be proud of is the awareness of the wrong doing of our forefathers which doesn’t concern the young generation but it’s good for them to know what it takes to **** up a country.”
For Thomas and many Germans of a certain generation, feeling pride in one’s own country and more importantly being able to express it is fraught with ‘problems’.
German honorary consul for Phuket, Dirk Naumann, who was born in Hamburg during World War II and was 50 years old when the Berlin Wall fell, admits he has mixed emotions at such times of the year.
“I have lived most of my life coming from a divided country and rejoiced when Germany was re-united. I cannot find a rational reason for my happiness but it was so unbelievable and thus to me so emotional.”
Despite feeling this way Dirk did not celebrate the recent German National Day, but puts that down as much to his non-partying ways as anything else.
He also admits that, as a German, he feels a moral dilemma in expressing such pride. “I find national pride expressed publicly as uncalled for and unpleasant (also in Thailand, by the way). However, the generations after me seem to have a much more relaxed attitude towards national pride as evidenced during the World Cup held in Germany in 2006.”
Indeed, it is not just the younger generations of Germans who believe that as well as acknowledging the negative past, they should feel proud of the present and the future of Germany.
“Our generation is allowed to be proud to be German,” believes Bavarian-born Helga Langer, who now owns Sea Bees Diving, “It is astonishing what our fathers and grandfathers achieved after the war. We have so many good things in our country of which we can be proud of, including inventions and technologies.”
“When we hosted the World Cup, for the first in a long time, Germans raised their flags and showed their pride. Since then, most Germans own a flag.”
Production Manager for Prepress International, Rene Kropp, believes that with each passing year it is becoming less and less of a dilemma to express pride. “It is still a problem sometimes, but... [it] is getting better and better. Anyhow I think if I feel pride or not has nothing to do with my nationality.”
He believes that German National Day is not a very important holiday and is only celebrated and marketed by people of the government as a “symbol” of the reunification of Germany.
So whether celebrated with a stein of beer and a wave of the flag or not, the reunification of Germany and what it symbolises and reminds many German Phuket residents of, is as important as how it is or isn’t commemorated.
“No German will ever forget that part of our history (WW2) but it’s time to move on from the feeling of shame and guilt, our future generations should not have to feel this,” says Helga.