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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Germans promote fun-loving image
love parade
The Love Parade: Germany's new hedonism
Germany is targeting British schools in an effort to counter the dominance of negative images from the country's history.

A nationwide campaign, using personalities such as Claudia Schiffer and Michael Schumacher is hoping to project the image of a German version of Cool Britannia - Prime Minister Tony Blair's attempt to liven up the UK's apparently staid image.

People here think that we are cold, efficient, control freaks, that we love order

Ulrich Sacker, Goethe Institute
Love, not war is the message, and most particularly, the annual Love Parade in Berlin.

The dance music bash, which attracts 1.5 million people, is a prime example of the new Germany, said Ulrich Sacker, Director of the German Cultural centre in London, the Goethe Institute.

Nazi image

"We are still dealing with some of the old stereotypes like the Huns, the Nazis and the beer-drinking Bavarians, " he told the BBC World Service's, World Today.

"But people do not know about the other side, the more contemporary Germany, the hedonistic side, the travelling spirit of the German.

Gebhardt von Moltke
Gebhardt von Moltke: Anger at outdated image
He said the campaign aimed to make people aware of the tremendous changes Germany had undergone in the past 15 years.

He added: "It is not about prejudice, it is about lack of information and one of the reasons is the very low level of youth exchange and teaching of languages in schools.

"Learn German and you too can be in the pole position," says one of 10,000 postcards, backed up with a billboard and internet campaign.

British schoolchildren will be asked as part of the campaign to write their own slogans to promote Germany with a language course in Germany as the prize.

Mr Sacker's views echo those expressed by German ambassador to Britain, Gebhardt von Moltke when he left his post in 1999.

Mr von Moltke said the teaching of history in British schools appeared to stop at 1945.

Mr Sacker said: "People here do not know much about contemporary Europe, or Germany.

A row erupted last year over a British advertisement using the word Kraut for Germans
"People know about our technical efficiency, that we are good car designers but people do not now about the more feminine sides - being politically trustworthy, being tolerant, open, and having a great cuisine."

Britain's alleged ignorance of Germany chimes with the results this week of a Reader's Digest survey on European general knowledge in which Britain emerged 18th out of 19 countries quizzed.

But perhaps it is also time for the British to start rebuilding their image in Germany.

One of Germany's most popular news magazines last year published a savage critique of modern-day Britain - describing pockets of poverty, a decrepit health service and school system, a disorganised civil service and bungling politicians.

See also:

24 May 01 | Europe
12 Oct 99 | UK Politics
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