Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ah Kraut!

A couple years ago a German said to me that the motto for the embassy’s website should be “Krauts No More.” Horrified, I suggested that Americans would not want such a derogatory term on a bummer sticker for their car or a t-shirt to wear around town. Perhaps my political correctness radar is a bit more sensitive than most, but such a motto was way overboard even for normal sensibilities I thought.

So imagine my surprise when a former colleague sent me a picture of a t-shirt he claimed was bought in Germany. The shirt said “Let’s Go Krauts.” Is that for real? No way?

Yes way! Indeed it seems that Wertheim department store IS selling the shirt as official World Cup Soccer apparel. What’s more, the shirt seems to be very popular because when I came across them yesterday there were only two left.

Actually, now there is only one because I purchased the other:-) I slinked up to the cash register like an underage kid trying to buy beer, praying that the sales lady would not make a comment. But I was willing to take the risk because the shirt is just too horrible/unbelievable/ hysterical not to own!

Will I wear it outside? I don’t know. Is this like the “N” word that only African Americans can use with one another? Is the shirt okay for Germans to wear but not for me? What do you think?

In general these phrases pose an interesting public diplomacy dilemma. Funny? Yes. But really an image Germany wants to perpetuate? I don't know. I guess I still stand by the fact that government should not use the word "Krauts" in its official advertising. But as a shirt for soccer hooligans (and now me,) it's kinda cool!


At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



PS Wish you were with us in sunny Naples!

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the significance behind this phrase?


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Kraut was the not-so-nice word used to describe Germans during WWII-- think sauerkraut. I consider it the German version of Jap (and not the kind that go to GW!) When it was suggested to me that "Krauts no more" was a good slogan, the person meant that Germans/Germany is modern and it now much more than beer and lederhosen. "Let's go Krauts" therefore just means "Let's Go Germany!"

I actually think Germany needs a slogan more like "where classic meets cutting edge." It's great that the country is very technologically advanced, but my sense is that much of what Germany believes is old and outdated in its image is what has endeared outsiders to the country and will keep them coming back.
Woah, sorry for the rant!

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Pe said...

It's a many American English for an German Boy :) Also Mach ich mal in deutsch weiter. Erin ist ja nun auch schon lange genug hier. Ach so, was ich eigentlich sagen wollte: Die richtigen Krauts leben aber nicht in Berlin, sondern in Bayern und werden auch von den Berlinern oft böse als Sauerkrautfresser bezeichnet. Nett ist das allerdings nicht *bg* --a little P

At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Pe said...

Kleiner Nachtrag: Wirklich souverän ist nur der, welcher sich selber "auf die Schippe nehmen"*1) kann. Also nehme zum Shirt einfach ein kleines ;-) und es geht schon in Ordnung.
--a little P

*1) bedeutet: sich über jemanden lustig machen / jemanden Verspotten

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Johnnie Oz said...

For more German usage of the word 'kraut' - they do seem to love it - I advise all music lovers to check out Krautrock is a genre, one that has inspired some of the most ridiculous album covers EVER.

Have fun and may our American in Berlin write a little diddy about this forgotten musical treasure.

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's just easier to wear it if you're german!

a german ;o)

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

please,.. have been searching the net like crazy and looking for this shirt, sicne i seen it on the street a few days ago,.. i really would LOVE to get one of them,.. where on earth can i buy that!?? please any hint would be great!!!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Erin said...

I don't know if I have an answer you will like... I purchased mine at Wertheim (part of the Karstadt chain of department stores.) But my sense is that they were a shirt made this fall or before Germany even qualified for the World Cup, because I bought mine this winter and an acquaintance bought one this fall. I haven't seen them since. Maybe they are being resold on Ebay. Good luck and Go Krauts!!


Post a Comment

<< Home