Germans - Identity - 1990-present


Further information: Reunification of Germany

However, the reunification of Germany in 1990 revived the old debates. The fear of nationalistic misuse of Pan-Germanism nevertheless remains strong. But the overwhelming majority of Germans today are not chauvinistic in nationalism, but in 2006 and again in 2010, the German National Football Team won third place in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, ignited a positive scene of German pride, in fanfare when it comes to sport.

A study in 2009, in which some 2,000 German citizens age 14 and upwards filled out a questionnaire. Nearly 60% of those surveyed shared the sentiment “I’m proud to be German.” And 78%, if free to choose their nation, would opt for German nationality with “near or absolute certainty”.

In the midst of the European sovereign-debt crisis, Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Foreign Minister, stated in November 2011, “I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity. You have become Europe’s indispensable nation.” According to Jacob Heilbrunn, a senior editor at The National Interest, such a statement is unprecedented when taking into consideration Germany’s history. “This was an extraordinary statement from a top official of a nation that was ravaged by Germany during World War II. And it reflects a profound shift taking place throughout Germany and Europe about Berlin’s position at the center of the Continent.” Heilbrunn believes that the adage, “what was good for Germany was bad for the European Union” has been supplanted by a new mentality—what is in the interest of Germany is also in the interest of its neighbors. The evolution in Germany’s national identity stems from focusing less on its Nazi past and more on its Prussian history, which many Germans believe was betrayed—and not represented—by Nazism. The evolution is further precipitated by Germany’s conspicuous position as Europe’s strongest economy. Indeed, this “German sphere of influence has been welcomed by the countries that inhabit it, as demonstrated by Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski’s effusive praise for his country’s western neighbor. This shift in thinking is also aided by a newer generation of Germans who are over the mantles of power and see World War II as a distant memory.

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