Germans and Germany

Recently Edward asked me what Germany was like. I wrote him my answer and asked him if he thought it was worthy of 8brothersing. He agreed, so here it is ...

Dear Edward

Thank you for your letter. In it you asked me if I was in Germany and, if so, what it was like. I do live in Berlin, which is the capital city of Germany. I can tell you what that’s like and it will give you some idea about the rest of Germany. But, rather like London is unlike the rest of Britain, Berlin is unlike the rest of Germany. So what I say about Berlin is not always applicable to Germany.

The first thing is that I only intended to stay in Berlin for one year. It is now almost two years since I arrived, I find the place and the people very congenial and I see no reason to make a permanent return
Berlin New Year
to London or England yet. The streets and pavements are wide. The traffic is usually fairly light. The public transport system is efficient and reliable. For example, underground trains run all night at weekends at 20 minute intervals. On New Year’s eve they were running at three minute intervals  because of the excitement. On that night every Berliner seems to put on their own fireworks display. I was lucky enough to be at a party in a 24th floor flat with a large balcony. The whole horizon was lit with fireworks. There were people letting off fireworks in the street below us and they were exploding in front of our eyes. I found some fireworks in the flat and a German man showed me how to hand launch them from a champagne bottle, which we did. (Do not try this at home!) Can you imagine more fun?

It is very cold at the moment, -10c. Berlin is prettily covered with 5cm of dusty snow. It’s usually like that for about a month every winter. In the summer it’s usually hotter than England and they have lots of huge lakes around Berlin where people go to swim, play, boat and sunbathe. Berlin is flat. With the
Wannsee Beach, Berlin
wide roads and massive bike lanes, it’s great for bicycling. There are also parks and playgrounds on about every corner. So there are children running about and playing very safely everywhere. It’s a startling contrast to England, especially London, where the poor children seem to be locked away all the time. It’s not so bad for you, Edward, because you live in the country and your Mum and Dad are confident people. But it is for a lot of children in England.

The best thing about Berlin is the people. Even though I don’t yet speak German very well, I find them friendly and tolerant. One of the best things about them is their directness. When you make an arrangement with one of them, they stick to it. If they don’t want to talk to you, they tell you. They don’t waste your time or their own time. Their tolerance extends up to the highest political levels. I recently heard a German politician say that it was important that they go on being tolerant and spread their tolerant message to the rest of the world.

Obviously the Germans and Germany are not perfect. Nowhere is. They still have some racism, some prejudice, their food is pretty dull (apart from the very good sausages) and there are other bad things. They struggle against the racism and prejudice - but they’re not too bothered about the food.

I think that, nowadays, they’re doing better than most and have lot’s that the Brits, and the rest of of the world, could learn from.

Love George

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