One of the worst preconceptions of Germans is that they are all Neo-Nazis. This is the legacy handed down from Hitler, from the Third Reich, that Germans today must contend with, both at home and abroad. Within Germany, they are painfully aware of their history, of their national shame. Patriotism is not a virtue, here. Moderation, civility, honesty, privacy. These are valued. I’ve had long conversations with my colleagues at school, and with my roommates, and they are disappointed in the ignorance and prejudgements of non-Germans. They have met too many people who thought that all Germans are Neo-Nazis.
I have met exactly zero German Neo-Nazis. Of course, they exist. They exist in America, too. The only Neo-Nazis I have met were Czech. They were completely wasted, and sat, drinking beer and toasting Hitler, while my companion and I sat in the train compartment with them, awkwardly, wondering how we could extricate ourselves. The announcement of our stop was a blessing. Meeting actual Neo-Nazis, this first-time experience, had made me a little more wary, since the NDP is a relatively popular party, in MeckPomm (33% of the vote in Koblenz). But I refuse to base my opinion of the Germans, or the Czechs, as a people, on this one unfortunate encounter. And I’d like for all of us to consider what prejudices, what preconceptions we hold, and why.