“Angst is the German lifeblood”

Die Zeit: How do you explain this (that Germans “like” to be afraid)?

Henryk M. Broder: I think the Germans have been waiting for their punishment since 1945. If the Allies had been at least a little bit more rigid with them, instead of tossing Mars bars from the sky, then maybe the Germans would be in a slightly better constitution today. They’re always thinking: Something’s still coming, and we deserve it.

He’s joking, of course. But maybe he’s not joking.

Man muss nicht 30.000 Kilometer durch Deutschland fahren, um festzustellen, dass die Deutschen gern Angst haben. Sie haben Angst vor Oberleitungen und unterirdischen Bahnhöfen, vor Dioxin im Frühstücksei und vor der Klimaerwärmung. Letztere ist bekanntlich ein globales Phänomen, aber niemand fürchtet sie so sehr wie die Deutschen. Angst ist das deutsche Lebenselixier.

5 responses

  1. Henryk Broder obviously think Germans never die, doesn’t matter that most people are born post 1945. He probably also believes in evil genes. And did the Allies toss mars bars from the sky? Really. If informed correctly, about a million German civilians were killed in January 1945 alone. Of course Germany started the war so in a way “serves them right”. However, it all becomes a bit more difficult – unless like Broder (and no that does NOT represent Jewish ethics) you believe in evil genes – young children are killed. Of course the Allies could have done a heck of a better job in real denazification, but what does that have to do with Angst which may be more due to dark memories of Chernobyl? By the way Americans are breaking in tears if they can no longer purchase iodine tablets coz they are sold out. There is so much radiation in New York. Probably because tehy were never collectively punished for slavery a la Broder theory.

  2. I think he was joking there, R. Sort of, anyway. But I do think you might admit that Germans are truly obsessed with fear–or with being afraid (see Jeffrey’s comment). They are certainly not alone here (the comment about the iodine tablets is right on the money), but they are very, very good if not the best at it.

    We live in an era of mass hysteria.

    There are many reasons for this.

    One explanation I like is that we still have caveman brains and can’t deal with the high-speed-up-in-your-face age (think media) in which we live. Certain people know this and use it to their advantage.

    There are several interesing books out there on the subject. One I read recently that I really liked was called The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner.

  3. Broder may be joking, perhaps, but he should be well aware that nearly all old people in Germany were young kids during the war – started by the Germans but not them personally – and often have nightmares from that war esp bombardments ie mars bars falling from the sky. A little more sensitivity may have been tactful, I don’t want to think about what reactions he has provoked. As to German Angst re nuclear power, well, perhaps it has also to do with the fact that most nuclear weapons were stationed on German soil (many still are) during the cold war, and perhaps also with German past: a fear of making dreadful mistakes like their (grand) parents and having to answer the questions of their (grand)children of “why did you not do anything back then?” Mind you I am also baffled by the hysteria re nuclear energy – its no good solution but so drastic? But at the same time, there is no German Angst re terrorist attacks – in that case, they take it “cool”.

  4. He is joking, R., but as a quote I like goes “there are no jokes”–just can’t remember who said it. He does do his damndest to provoke though, that’s for sure. And again, hysteria is everywhere (immer und überall).

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