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Soccer helps restore German pride

Lee County High School graduate Lindy Massey, second from left, watches the German national soccer team compete on TV while at a restaurant in Stuttgart with friends she has made during her summer stay in Germany. Special photo

Lee County High School graduate Lindy Massey, second from left, watches the German national soccer team compete on TV while at a restaurant in Stuttgart with friends she has made during her summer stay in Germany. Special photo

After making home with my German family in small Schwaebisch Hall for four days, I packed my bags again, this time to visit the bustling city of Stuttgart. A town of slightly more than 605,000 people, Stuttgart is the main city of the Schwaebia region of Germany. The city is so large that the people refer to living in its regions as if they were living in seperate towns. I spent my time in Stuttgart-Ost, or, in English, Stuttgart-East.

Stuttgart-Ost, and much of Stuttgart, is a bustling city, full of streets for shopping and plenty of fast food, like tasty Turkish meat pockets or Greek gyros. H&M sits nestled among several other brand-name stores, but the difference with the shopping in Stuttgart is that there is a broad, welcoming park incorporated into the area; it comes complete with a proud stone fountain and live musicians (usually violinists or cellists) lining its sidewalks to play for a few spare euros.

After seeing the mall two years ago, I remembered its free-flowing nature and intricate architecture among the modern stores and occasional McDonald’s.

This time around I didn’t have an opportunity to visit the area, though. While winding through a back neighborhood with my cousin, I slipped on the rainy pavement and badly injured my foot. I had the view of Schöenburg Street for several days, but still managed to get out and learn quite a bit about the German youth and Stuttgart itself. After I sat through several foot treatments — coating the area injured in a soured cream called “Quark,” sold medicinally in Germany — I ventured out with Mia, my cousin, to watch the German national team’s soccer game at a restaurant with some friends in Stuttgart-Ost.

I met several of Mia’s friends, each with an interesting name and story, but we all united for one cause: cheering on Germany against a crew of skilled Portugese soccer players. That night the teams were playing each other for a point to advance into the next round of matches in the UEFA EuroCup. Germany has won the European Football Championship in the past, claiming three titles, and that night much of Germany sat in unison, watching Podolski quickly pass the ball to Müller and various other players, craving a German victory in order for the team to advance toward another title.

Together, we all ate German dishes and our table became a sea of bratwurst and spätzle (egg noodles) as we sat glued to the large projector in the restaurant. The atmosphere had a bright spark as we all groaned at missed opportunities and hollered for close goals. Needless to say, as the final minute ticked away and Germany claimed victory, the place fervently erupted with cheers and high-fives. In the streets, cars zipped by past miniature parades of people blowing horns, singing and displaying German flags draped over their bodies like robes. The celebration was national, and everyone smiled as cheers and songs filled the streets.

On the train ride home, I sat with some friends I had made in Stuttgart-Ost, and we discussed everything from politics to getting a driver’s license (which, in Germany, is a huge accomplishment). But while we all laughed and joked, I started understanding why the Germans celebrated so feverishly their soccer team. Soccer is an outlet for acceptable German nationalism. It’s a chance for Germans to be proud of their country and not be chastized for it. Sandra and Hita, friends of mine, explained the mindset in much of the German people, especially the youth, in regards to their country.

Germany clearly has a darker past that is internationally known: Need I mention World War I and World War II? However, this malevolent shadow hangs over the promise of the Germany that exists today and its inhabitants who know the past and understand its grave importance. And yet, there is a ubiquitous cloud that hangs over most of the Germans today for vicious crimes and actions they themselves didn’t commit. As we discussed the implications of being German in other nations, Sandra looked to me in a moment of dismay: “I [just] want to visit another country and say, ‘I am from Germany,’ and be proud,” she said.

I nodded, understanding the desire to express love of a nation, loving my home, the United States of America, myself. We all agreed as we parted ways that this problem was something only time could heal, but we, as the youth, are able to help change the international mindset. As we walked into the night, we agreed that there needs to be understanding of the past, but, with this perspective, no attacking of the innocents of the present.

Beginning around 20 years ago, Germans started celebrating Germany again for the sake of a victorious soccer game. This has grown into a broad, electric celebration when Germany wins a match, after which Germans display flags and honk horns while rounding street corners at night, and shout at the top of their lungs, their German pride apparent. Not only is soccer a national tradition, but it serves as a blanket for the German people to come underneath and celebrate the fact that, yes, these people ARE Germans.

Soon, I leave for the city of Hamburg, but I will be writing about the remainder of my time in Stuttgart before doing so. Just last night, Germany put another soccer match in the bag by winning against the Netherlands, and another national title may be on the cusp for the German nation. And so I, along with the German team, will advance onward to whatever the next adventure brings.

This is the second installment of Lee County High School graduate Malinda “Lindy” Massey’s account of her summer trip to Germany. Lindy is staying with relatives in Schwaebisch Hall.

Comments

Bethany2012 2 years, 2 months ago

I am glad you are having a great time and I love reading about it in the paper. I will be thinking about you while watching the next game on Thursday as Germany plays Italy and I do hope we pull it out this time. Great Job and well done :)

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agirl_25 2 years, 2 months ago

I loved installment #2..sigh...and I can just hear the Germans saying "Ost"....sigh sigh, and taste the lovely food you must be eating (another sigh). I remember many a train ride to Stuttgart on the ICE trains from Munich........(yet another long sigh). I love these adventures you write about and so look forward to the next one.

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Bethany2012 2 years, 2 months ago

I know what you are talking about. Are you german to? I know that Lindy just found out that she will travel to the Czech Republic and the City of Prague.If the plans stand that will be something I was never able to do. I know her family has plans to keep her busy until she will leave .Then off to the University of KY :)

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agirl_25 2 years, 2 months ago

No but have vacationed in Germany many times over the years, in Bavaria, and have lived there, in Sembach and Mehlingen. It is one of my most favorite spots in the world. I just got back from 2 weeks in London, Paris and Dublin and keep telling myself it was time well wasted, when I could have been in Germany and I am now in the process of planning next year's trip and yup you guessed it..BAVARIA!!!!!!! Goooooooo GERMANY!!! She is one lucky gal and I think she realizes it. My granddaughter is studying at Oxford in London this summer and knows she is very fortunate. I wish she would write a blog for the family too.

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Bethany2012 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, Germany lost and all agree we will pull for Italien !!! Your granddaughter is in Oxford to study so is my best friends son! He attends Georgetown College in Ky and is there over the summer months.I have many friends from all over Germany here in the US and I am American now ( I can vote!) and all with a suitcase full of documents that I had to have before ever thinking about coming to the US. Just glad I can cook that way I dont miss out on to much. As for Lindy being lucky I do think she knows that. Alles gute und viel Glueck !

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agirl_25 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes she went to Auburn University, 3rd year student, and is pursuing her PhD in English Literature. She has a goal!! We all are wishing her well and behind her 100%. Welcome to America, glad to have you among us..you sound like a fine addition!!

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