The Dutch, like many other European countries, have a special relationship with Germany. Let’s have a look at stuff that possibly could have determined that relationship. It sure as hell has to do with two world wars; during the first the Dutch stayed neutral but let’s say that they were a bit pro-German or at least anti-British. And when the Kaiser had to flee his home country, he found refuge and asylum in the Netherlands.
The second world war was a bit more intense for the Dutch-German relationship, seeing as the Germans occupied the Netherlands for five years.
No love lost, and the Dutch are the forgiving kind, of course.. Except.. When it comes to.. Football.. Ouch..
Football, not soccer, as our Beckham-loving neighbours in the US call it; football is a whole different story. The Germans have the reputation for being a solid, yet uninteresting team and seemingly capable of growing in form during a tournament. The Germans won the European and World Cup a bazillion time this way: being superior and still bore the fuck out of the stadium crowd. Almost arrogantly proud of making the watching of two dung beetles copulating a more interesting event than watching German football.
Now the Dutch weren’t that good at football early on, but the Golden Age started in the seventies, with an always to be unnamed team from Amsterdam beating the crap out almost every team in Europe. The level of quality was incredible and it got Us into the finals of the World Cup in 1974, against Germany.. In Germany.. Google what happened, willya?
I didn’t actually experience that tournament cause I was a bit too young. But when I came over in ‘79, it took me less than a month to understand the fact that the Dutch lost that final and that the Dutch people felt cheated and pissed off with that result. In my later teens I discovered that for the Dutch, that defeat almost seemed to mean more to them than the whole five year of German occupation. I can imagine how that felt; it reminded me of the first time I saw the Dutch beat Curaçao at baseball: an unacceptable wrongness..
Anyways, in ‘88 there was a small renaissance in Dutch football and the Dutch went back to Germany for the European Cup. I simply can not forget when the Dutch qualified for the finals by beating the Germans; it was as if winning the finals was less important then beating the Germans. We took the bus to Rotterdam to celebrate this double victory and I distinctly remember shouting in a drunken euphoric haze that We defeated the Krauts [Dutch variant: moffen].
First off, who’s We? Bottom line is that even with a Dutch passport, there will never be a We/Us situation. I can belong to Us if I do well in sports or entertainment and keep my nose clean.
If I make one mistake or transgression, it’s over: I’m not one of Us anymore, back to being one of Them. That’s how I felt, I may be harsh and wrong, but that’s part and parcel of not ever really being one of Them.
To quote the wise humanist T. Pratchett:
Uhm, I’m not one of them. I’m one of me..
Second, what the hell did the Germans ever do to me? I wasn’t there during the WW’s nor had I really experienced the WC Finals of ‘74. So why should I be so hateful against the Germans?
Part of the answer: because it’s football and therefore not a rational thing; during an event like this, people forget their little differences and Everybody is one of Us.
Another part of the answer: because it’s the German football team – one of the most boring teams ever, that almost always seem to grow in strength through mediocrity during a tournament.
It’s always a great joy to see creativity beat mediocrity, even on this level of social interaction.
A bit of Orange, always nice..