Don’t mention the war Part XIII (and yes, we are bigots, but don’t mention that either)

Whenever the English (there are separate Sctottish and Welsh teams) soccer team is playing against the German team, the English fans like to sing:

There Were Ten German Bombers In The Air, There Were Ten German Bombers In The Air, There Were Ten German Bombers, Ten German Bombers, Ten German Bombers In The Air.

And The RAF From England Shot One Down. And The RAF From England Shot One Down. And The RAF From England, The RAF From England, The RAF From England Shot One Down.”

With each repetition the RAF shoots down another German bomber.

Thing is, next year the Soccer World Championship tournament will take place in Germany, and the English national coach Sven-Goran Eriksson doesn’t want the English fans to sing that song in Germany: ‘It is really important that we respect our German hosts.’

This attempt to avoid giving offence is quite worthy. Unfortunately the same spirit isn’t always prevailing here in Germany. A popular German childrens’ song with the same melody as ‘Ten German Bombers’ is called ‘‘Zehn kleine Negerlein (Ten Little Negroes), and in each stanza a ‘Little Negro’ dies is a different way – respectivily drowning, getting shot, gluttony, a spell from an evil witch, stuck in s swamp, drinking too much beer, gluttony again, sunstroke, excessive grief, and run over by a horse carriage.

The Swedish coach’s exaggerated sensitivity is quite amusing, but I think we should emulate him as far as our children’s songs are concerned. It is easy to imagine the outcry by the German media if it turned out that children in the American south were taught songs like this, for example.

24 thoughts on “Don’t mention the war Part XIII (and yes, we are bigots, but don’t mention that either)”

  1. A form like the German one used to be current in the UK and almost certainly in the US as well (although I’ve only ever heard the Indian version). Agatha Christie wrote a book based on the rhyme, titled Ten Little N*gg*rs. This was later changed to Ten Little Indians and also And Then There Were None. I’m not sure in what order the latter two titles came. Christie’s publishers seemed to take a delight in confusing the public, changing the titles whimsically between UK and US editions, and later re-issuing under still other titles. I’ve bought a couple Christie books three times under the impression that they were books I’d somehow missed.

    By the way, I dislike hiding offensive words with juvenile tricks like inserting asterisks, but the software demanded it.

  2. I blacklisted that word after a commenter used it in a way that I didn’t like in a comment that I didn’t like. Maybe I will delist it if we discuss Huck Finn or more commenters request it, but it grates on me and I would just as soon continue to block it.

    If anyone has a strong opinion about blocking this or other words, please email me (to avoid diverting this thread). If there’s interest, I could open a public thread for further discussion.

  3. The official title of the Christie book is now And Then There Were None – the last line of the original song. It has just been made into a play and is having a fairly successful run in London. I believe the words of the crucial song (crucial to the plot, that is) have been changed to soldier instead of n*gg*r. Ten Little Indians as a title was always a problems, since Indians has two different meanings in Britain.

  4. I love your logic. It’s ok for us to sing racist or inflammatory songs, because some Germans have been known to do it too.

    Next, we should invade Poland, worship David Hasselhof, and start producing films of us taking bogs on each other.

    The Swede is right. Live in the now.

  5. I must have misunderstood this thread & Rolf (of the “The Swedish coach’s exaggerated sensitivity is quite amusing, but I think we should emulate him as far as our children’s songs are concerned.”)or That Geezer did.

  6. once again funny english staff. they kicked off the germans?? The Battle for Britain. Absolete fiction.

  7. yanko, please try again. This time use complete sentences, each one with an easily identifiable subject.

    For example, instead of saying “Absolute fiction.” you should actually identify the specific thing you think is fictional. Are you saying the Battle of Britain is entirely fictional? Are you saying a particular account or interpretation of the battle is fictional? Are you saying “funny english staff” is fictional? The implied subject is unclear.

  8. The PC brigade will do anything to spoil our fun. It isn’t our fault that Jerry is a sore loser, we Britons never went wobbly over losing a war, not that there are many to choose from.

  9. If you’re going to use derogatory terminology like ‘paki’ at least get the grammar right. There’s no apostrophe in the plural you dolt.

  10. I’m an Australian that spent a few years living in England and I loved the country. I’m astounded at what they put up with during the second world war and the impressive spirit they showed during the bombings. I do however hate the football fans being total knobs in an attempt to provoke a “scrap” with other football fans, that in all honesty has very little to do with the game itself. In addition, I hate hearing the poms brag about their victories in the second world war because half of what makes the brits so impressive (in comparison to the yanks) is there humility and ability to downplay their amazing spirit. Not big-note themselves. Also, I believe Germany is a great country too. My grandfather fought them in North Africa but he had a great deal of respect for them.

  11. Hi,

    I am really amazed, how stupid people more than 60 years after the end of WWII still behave or better: “articulate”…
    “British Steve” and “RAF” – what have you done to serve your country? Except for bragging for achievements, that even the famous RAF paid dearly for…?

    Anyway, I have been travelling Australia now for more than half a year – and I have met many nice “Pommies” Down Under – some of them I call friends by now.
    And when they have taught me one very important thing, than that is: the war is over! “And it is over for more than two generations, and especially the german postwar generations have put a lot of time and spirit into building “a” european union, that has developed into a power of balance in the world.” (These are not my words, but more or less a quote, of what my friends said.)

    So, if guys like “British Steve” or “RAF” still believe that there is any need to insult Germans, they probably should travel Australia. I have never felt more European than during the last few month, having a good time with Pommies, Spaghettis, Krauts, Frogs and what ever nice names we have for our next neighbour (even with Kiwis and Aussies).

    Or are you to afraid, to eventually feel the need to change your picture?

    P.S.: I spent ANZAC-DAY in Sydney – and that, probably is the worst day to be a German in Australia – at least that was what I thought. But I met two Aussie veterans who fought the Germans in North Africa and they were actually giving me a warm welcome (and a couple of schooners) after they figured that I am German – their point was, that WWII (and WWI) would never have happened, if people in the early years of the last century would have had the chance to travel the world like we do today. Because the best way to understand foreign cultures, identities, what ever, is to experence them
    P.P.S.: Tonight I am going to watch England vs. Paraguay with Italians, French, English, Scottish, Irish, Germans and Americans – and we are all expecting to have a lot of fun and see an interesting match – though the English probably hope that there team will win – but who can’t understand that?

  12. But no matter what the PC brigade say… we shot them down, hehe. And would it have been much harder for America if we didnt… so why not sing about it?

    And the RAF from ENGLAND shot them down… nothing like singing that amongst trainful of krauts, nowadays the germans have nothing to do with the past…

    But we brits can still revell in former glories cant we? Its the best thing we’ve done in the past 70 years ffs!

  13. Thank you, “German in Australia”, for bringing some reason and humanity to this discussion. It is sadly ironic that British and American attitudes about WWII often manifest the same idiotic chauvinism that led to the madness in the first place. Anything less than forgiveness and reconciliation is merely a descpicable remainder of fascistic intolerance.

  14. Its sad that the English who shout loudest about being English, tend to be the ones that the majority of English hate most!
    Also they are often the ones who are violent/aggresive towards other nationalities, but remember that they are equally violent/aggresive, towards their fellow countrymen every Friday and Saturday night.

  15. “British and American attitudes about WWII”

    There is no comparison. The Brits seem to cling to their memories of World War II, for better or for worse.

    Most Americans barely know World War II happened, who was in it, what it was about, or even within decades, when it happened. I mean this literally supposedly well-educated Americans whom I know have only the barest grasp of the basic outlines of the history of the war. It is not a living memory to them. It is remote, ancient and maybe interesting but irrelevant history.

    When Henry Ford said “history is bunk” he was expressing a very American attitude. Today and tomorrow are about making money, or doing whatever cool thing you may want to do. The past is over, gone, whatever, who cares. Now. What is. What can be. What will be. Now. That is it.

  16. Oh, “ben”, you don’t know anything about Germany!
    Maybe you should come to watch us celebrating a great festival and forget WW2. Nothing is glorious or great in war, not even an Englisch victory. People died and this is just sad.
    Besides, no German child sings “Zehn kleine Negerlein” anymore.

  17. Lex

    The Americans dont remeber the war because they have so many of them surely . Most Americans would be hard pushed to put a pin in Europe if a map of the world was held in front of them.

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