I’ve always felt like growing up in Germany is tough. We don’t wear our nationality proudly since we’re so afraid it could end in a Hitler 2.0 sort of situation. It has gotten better in the last 5-10 years but in general, we’re still growing up in the shadows of WW2 even though that one ended over 40 years before I was even born.
In 9th or 10th grade we had to watch Schindler’s List in school. As our normal classes were in 45 minute increments, you can imagine how many days it took us to watch the entire thing as we watched it in religion class (don’t even get me started on why we have those because UGH!) which was usually twice a week. Every time I saw more of it, I was more ready to abandon my nationality and everything about me that could remotely pass as German. Back then, I wanted to move to Finland and never speak a word of German ever again, that’s how deeply disturbed I was.
This part of our history is horrible and whatever words I use in order to try to explain my feelings and sorrow on the matter will never be enough. I can’t make it undone, as much as I wish I could.
As the years progressed and the impact of said movie wasn’t as imminent anymore, I learned to accept our history better. Not everything about this country is an abomination. We’ve learned from our past monstrosities and have tried to be cautious about everything. Basically we’re a nation afraid to ever let something similar happen ever again. Not that right extremists are only a problem for this country. Many other european countries have those problems as well but they don’t have the history.
This is a long winded way to explain why I don’t particularly subscribe to any national heritage or identity. There are things about me, imprinted in me through my growing up in Germany, that I share with my fellow countrymen, but I’m not exclusively German either. Living in Sweden has taught me a lot of things and I left a part of myself there when I moved back here. The lakes and ease of the people is something I miss regularly. As is some of their foods. I could easily imagine moving there if it weren’t for real life things tying me here that go beyond national ambiguity.
Another country on the list of ones I fell in love with is Canada. Could I imagine living there? Definitely! I seem to be drawn to northern countries though, I don’t care too much for the south, as they have no snow and it gets really hot there. Of course my love for Canada only stems from a 3 week vacation, but I enjoyed it a lot. Plus I already speak the language.
So while I’m watching the Olympics, it’s really difficult for me sometimes because I have to choose whom I cheer for. When Germany is playing Sweden, it gets most confusing for me because I want both teams to win. Throw Canada in the mix ad it doesn’t get easier. Maybe my reasons for liking these countries are superficial and I am actually pretty German (not that I’m denying that). I’m just not very patriotic when it comes to ‘my’ country thanks to how I grew up.