I still remember when I was a little boy in the 50’s living in a small German town just about 10 years after the end of the war. I used to march with the soldiers whenever they marched out of the near by barracks and I liked their songs they sung. It made me proud being with this men feeling to be a part of this big stamping and singing organism. They were German soldiers and not far away from my grannies house we had this English houses. English soldiers with their families lived there. It was a forbidden place for us children of the past war times. But anyway as a child rules are there to be broken and my friends an I we went quite often to meet some of the English children. We couldn’t communicate verbally but as it is as a child you’ll find a way to talk. And so we played together the English children and we Germans. But although we were little kids we never understood the conditions this children lived in. They had big Flats bigger then ours but the conditions were so poor to us, so untidy, so unorganized and so shabby that we always compared them with the social weak of our own society. When we saw our first pictures on television about English towns and cities we saw people so poor they seemed to us like the poor African people with flies on their eyes for whom our parents gave money to save them from hunger.
Lots of years later I became a German police officer and the English troops were still around. The picture we got as children worsened. We saw drunken soldiers behaving like animals, we saw soldiers beaten up by the military police with sticks. We saw military equipment not working at all and when our soldiers went out to a maneuver everything was in order and in shining condition. When the English troops went out the streets of our town were always blocked by wrecked tank transporters, by nonfunctional red cross cars and by lamenting soldiers. One day we had to join a guy from the mp to find a soldier after a bad crime. That gave us a view into the living conditions of this men and their barracks. First thing we saw when we entered the corridor was a big lake of puke in front of the room. When we entered a stench of almost unbearable smell took our breath away. We found the guy and we were happy to leave the place after a short investigation. Fortunately the mp took over and we didn’t have to deal with it.
But there was one thing we couldn’t comprehend. Whenever we had to deal with this soldiers in all their misery, they never ceased our surprise when they talked about their pride of being an English man an English soldier. Or their arrogance towards us a Germans. Even in the worst situation you never saw them complaining about their unfortunate situation their were always proud with their heads up. It seemed to us quite often as if there were treated by there officers like animals not like humans and yet that never broke their pride. In all this years as a police officer I never understood what was going on in there minds, what drove them to stay in this situation and most of all what was it they were so proud of?
Now after almost 17 years here in the UK. After 17 Years living in a Country which was so far away in those days of the past, after breathing the same air, talking the same language, living in the same small shabby houses, after partying the same wild parties as they understand to celebrate, after being sucked in to a life on a big island and being sped out by all the arrogance this country can show you, it slowly sinks into my mind.
To be continued….
…It was this special sort of brainwashing, this hammering into the brains of the lower class this ongoing message, sometimes in a laud screaming voice, sometimes only a whisper: “You might be only a speck of dust, only a little bit of dirt, you might live in a house which is nothing more than a cave, you might be punished with the hard life of a prisoner, your might be used just a canon fodder but you are always part of an empire so vast and so far that you imagination will hardly recognise the enormousness of this realm. Wherever you go whatever you do you will be always part of this gigantic power in the world, your language is the language of the world, your Queen is the most powerful leader from this little island to Australia, New Zealand, from India to the Falklands and from there to Canada. No other power on earth will ever be greater than the power of the Commonwealth.” A voice so powerful and so well understood by especially the lower class, a voice so continuously charming and hypnotic so seducing and demanding that it sank into the collective subconsciousness until it became a fact of life. Even in times like today as we call ourself Europeans in times we talk about globalisation where everything shrinks in time and distance this so special English way of feeling and thinking about things is still the same as it was 200 years ago. When a German, a Spaniard or an Italian travels to South Africa, to Australia, to New Zealand or to Canada, he will always think as an European and he will represent the ideas of his nationality more as a part of an, shell we say, folklore rather than a part of an empire. He or she will admire all the beauty of the land, the kindness of the people, the brilliance of the inventions and the excellent’s of the food. People from England don’t see it that way, they see it always a bit smaller, a bit behind their own country yes they see it always a bit lower to their own country. They will stress the roots of the English language spoken in this land, they will stress the most important poet and writer of all times comes from England and marked all the other colours of the English language once and for all with his power…
To be continued…