Flags, Germans and historical guilt

Having grown in Spain, I have always been suspicious of people that proudly show off their national flag at every opportunity. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìProbably a fascist?¢‚Ǩ¬ù, I used to think when in high school I would see someone with Spanish flag stickers on his folder. And they mostly were. Conspicuous Spanish flags have been long considered by many as being far right symbols. The Popular Party?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s October 2002 decision to hang a 294 m2 Spanish flag in Col?ɬ?n square (one of the main Madrid?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s squares) sparked a heated debate about ?¢‚Ǩ?ìconstitutional patriotism?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. It seems that the long years of Franco?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s rule have made the national flag into a somewhat fascist symbol.

Some of my German friends also have this relationship to flags. No matter how much they like flags in general, you will not see them boasting their national flag, the German flag.

The Nazis did lots of evil stuff. They executed millions and they started a war that killed many more millions. But they lost the war, and eventually democracy was restored and Germans started to rebuild their country. In 1951 Germany started a compensation and restitution program for Nazi crimes which continues to this date. To this date, the sense of guilt is with the Germans.

BBC News has an interesting article about this German sense of ?¢‚Ǩ?ìcollective guilt?¢‚Ǩ¬ù ("Emerging from the Nazi shadow?"). Apparently, Germans are finally leaving the guilt behind. But, while they are ?¢‚Ǩ?ìstarting to highlighting the positive?¢‚Ǩ¬ù, they have still a long way to go until they can finally ?¢‚Ǩ?ìtrust themselves?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. Hopefully, the changes come fast and help Germans develop a more self-confident attitude as a nation.