Okay, so this has nothing to do with books whatsoever. (You’ve been forewarned.) Although it does have to do with knowing your own bloody (in every sense of the word!) history…
Last night we went out to the late opening of the British Museum. We do this often ever since we discovered how much less crowded it is than during normal daylight hours. On the way back, on the tube, my husband plugged his earphones in and started to listen to a British comedy podcast he had downloaded. And then suddenly he laughed out loud. And when I say, loud, I mean, LOUD.
This is a London tube carriage we’re travelling in here, people. You have to be British to truly appreciate what an awful social gaffe it is to laugh out loud in a tube carriage.
Luckily, there were only two other people in the carriage other than us.
My husband removed his earphones and said very apologetically: “I’m sorry but a German opposition politician called Angela Merkel “the worst chancellor in history”.
I have to admit this caught me off-guard. I blinked. Did he just say what he said? I caught the eye of the man opposite and he tried not to smile. Yep, my husband just said that a German politician called Angela Merkel the worst chancellor…
“You kidding me.”
At this point Young Friend of the Elephants, aged ten, and never one to miss an opportunity to show herself smart, piped up: “Wasn’t that Hitler?”
The man opposite gave up on his efforts trying not to smile.
“And by some distance,” I said, still struggling to wrap my mind round this completely awful lack of understanding by some people of their own history.
To establish facts here, according to Der Spiegel, the politician in question, Andre Poggenburg in fact said: “Noch niemals hat ein Kanzler diesem Land so schweren Schaden zugefügt wie diese Frau.” Which, forgive my somewhat shaky German, loosely translates as: “Never yet has a chancellor caused so heavy damage to this country as this woman.”
So there you go. Thought for the day: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana). Herr Poggenburg, do me a favour, and start reading some German history.