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  • Konrad Werner: The Rhine army Stockholm syndrome


Konrad Werner: The Rhine army Stockholm syndrome

If you ever wanted proof of how much Germans love English people, here it is. Even if England is the less attractive best friend, there are still some things that the Germans just need from the English. And Konrad Werner explains.

German people are Anglophiles. They love the ‘humour of the toilet’ so much that whenever they meet an English person they assure them that they have “a very British sense of humour”. Every British person in Germany has been told this at some point.

But the main reason why Germans like the English is because their funny bodies seem so inferior. Bad diets, bad teeth, bad chins – it all suggests to them that the English are an unhealthy, malformed younger cousin who keeps them entertained but sleeps in the spare room in the attic.

The conflicting superiority/inferiority complex extends to many areas. Germans are delighted by all matters concerning “die Qveen” (the German word Königin is not adequate to describe someone regarded in Germany as an amusing and very expensive mascot). This all stems from the Second World War, of course. The German at the end of the Fawlty Towers episode who wonders aloud, shaking his head in bemusement and resignation, “However did they win?” is asking a question that Germans subconsciously ask themselves all the time.

This indulgent love for the British was much demonstrated yesterday when we found out that Britain’s massive state budget cuts mean that the Rhine army, the remnants of Britain’s occupying force, is finally going to be withdrawn. Even if the decision was finally forced by fiscal restrictions, Britain has now concluded that the Germans are not planning a counter-attack.

People in places like Paderborn and Gütersloh were really upset. Of course, this is partly because of the economic hole that will be left over. But in this excellent article, which speaks to some of the communities where the British soldiers live, you sense the devastation is emotional too. Apparently some Germans have basically fallen in love with their erstwhile conquerors, in a kind of massive half-century-long Stockholm-type way.