Tuesday, January 15, 2013

50 Years Already

50 years ago in Reims

French and Germans are supposed to be the best of friends. In fact, this year we shall celebrate the 50th anniversary of the re-conciliating Elysée-Treaty signed by President Charles De Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

As a visible sign the two postal services issued a stamp showing the same motif. Nevertheless you may notice two differences. The French stamp is slightly bigger and amounts to 80 cents, the foreign postage for a letter that in Germany is 5 cents cheaper. The blue color of the French flag is lighter than the one on the German stamp. This reminds me of a flag dispute actually going on in Germany: Which blue color is correct and why did the two postal services not talk to each other in beforehand about such an "important" detail?

So let us rather look into the question how Germans appreciate the French and vice versa: A survey by the German Embassy in Paris revealed that although the animosity generated during two world wars had gone, the stereotypes of the hard-working German and life-loving French had survived well into the 21st century.

Choucroute royale au vin blanc. The dish can still be improved in
changing the wine to champagne.
When asked for the first thing they thought of when considering Germany, 29 percent of the French people quizzed said Chancellor Angela "Merkel", followed by 23 percent who said "Beer". Following them were "Car" and "Strict" with 18 percent each. Then came the classics "Sausage" and "Sauerkraut" which each attracted 12 percent of first associations. Here I should add that the best Sauerkraut ever you will find in the French Alsace where it is called choucroute royale.

The Germans had a far more romantic image of France, with 56 percent associating it primarily with the word "Paris" (that should be the same or even higher with the Americans), 37 percent coming up with "Eiffel Tower", 32 percent going for "Wine" and a further 27 percent plumping for "Baguette".

What the survey revealed and what rather counts is that 85 percent of the French and 87 percent of the Germans like each other.

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