Ich bin Klempner von Beruf

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Reinhard Mey, “Ich bin Klempner von Beruf” (1974):

 

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies gold’ne Handwerk schuf!
Denn auch in den grössten Nöten
Gibt es immer was zu löten.
Immer wieder gibt es Pannen
An WC’s und Badewannen:
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Neulich hab’ ich einen Boiler installiert,
Der hat gut und gern zwei Tage funktioniert.
Dann war er drei Tage alt
Und das heisse Wasser kalt.
Na, da hab’ ich gar nicht lange repariert,
Sondern sofort einen neuen installiert.

Und da fragt mich doch der Kunde noch nachher,
Ob denn reparieren nicht doch preiswerter wär’.
Da antwort’ ich blitzeschnell:
„Ihr uraltes Modell
Stellt die Firma doch schon gar nicht mehr her,
Und Ersatzteile gibt’s längst nicht mehr.”

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies’ gold’ne Handwerk schuf.
Selbst in schweren Wirtschaftskrisen
Find’ ich Rohre hinter Fliesen,
Ist ein Unglück anzurichten:
Und ein Abfluss abzudichten,
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Gestern mittag hat ein Kunde angeklopft,
Bei ihm sei wohl ein Abwasserrohr verstopft.
Ich erneu’re rasch die Dichtung,
Und dann stimmt auch schon die Richtung,
Wenn man einen Stopfen in die Röhre pfropft,
Kann es sein, dass der Rücklaufkrümmer tropft.

Doch wahrscheinlich hat ein Doppelflansch geklemmt,
Darum hab’ ich gleich die Mauer aufgestemmt
Und das Halbrundstück durchstochen
Und die Wohnungswand durchbrochen
Und die Nachbarwohnung auch noch überschwemmt.
Es gibt nichts, das einen Klempner hemmt.

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies’ gold’ne Handwerk schuf.
Immer werden Hähne tropfen,
Werden Waschbecken verstopfen.
Es gibt immer was zu schweissen,
Abzubau’n und einzureissen:
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Letzte Pfingsten war es, glaub’ ich, um halb acht,
Da rief ein Mann an, völlig aufgebracht:
Bei ihm sei ein Rohr gebrochen,
Er selbst nass bis auf die Knochen,
Und das gluckert und das sprudelt und das kracht.
„Prima”, sagte ich: „das wird sofort gemacht.”

An einem nebligen Novembertag
Bracht’ ich ihm erstmal den Kostenvoranschlag.
Noch muss er zum Keller schwimmen
Und zur Nacht sein Dach erklimmen,
Denn vor Juni tu’ ich keinen Hammerschlag.
So hat jeder seine Sorgen heutzutag’.

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies’ gold’ne Handwerk schuf.
Es gibt immer ein paar Muffen
krumm zuhau’n und Abzubuffen,
Es gibt immer was zu schweissen,
abzubau’n und einzureissen
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Am Freitag kam eine Reklamation,
Ein Kunde rügte die Installation,
Immer, wenn er Wasser zapfe,
Sammle Erdgas sich im Napfe,
Und klingle zufällig das Telefon,
Gäb es manche heftige Detonation.

Ich löste das Problem höchst elegant,
Indem ich Telefon und Hahn verband.
Wenn es jetzt im Hörer tutet,
Wird die Küche überflutet
Und durch diesen Kunstgriff meisterlicher Hand,
Ist schont jede Explosionsgefahr gebannt.

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies’ gold’ne Handwerk schuf.
Denn in Villen, Hütten, Lauben,
Gibt es Muttern zu verschrauben,
Selbst auf Schlössern, alten, stolzen,
Gibt es Schellen zu verbolzen:
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Gründlich sein ist jeden Klempners Pflicht.
Donnerstag war eine Leitung nicht ganz dicht.
Mit dem Anzieh’n einer Mutter
Ist das längst noch nicht in Butter,
Denn, wenn dabei eine Bogenschelle bricht,
Reduziert sich oft die Druckmanschette nicht.

Folglich habe ich vom Keller bis zum Dach
Alle Rohre neu verlegt und hab’ danach
Auch den Kühlschrank noch erneuert,
Was die Sache zwar verteuert,
Aber dafür sagt mir auch kein Kunde nach,
Dass ich bei der Arbeit halbe Arbeit mach’.

Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.
Ein dreifach Hoch dem, der dies’ gold’ne Handwerk schuf.
Linker Hand die Werkzeugtasche,
Zwanz’ger Schlüssel, Thermosflasche,
Rechter Hand meine Rohrzange,
So wird mir so schnell nicht bange:
Ich bin Klempner von Beruf.

Und braucht man keine Klempner mehr,
Na, dann werd’ ich halt Installateur.

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Widerstand – 20. Juli 1944

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Today marks the 67th anniversary of the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944, a day in which Germany remembers those who resisted the Nazi vision of the world. Popularized by Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Graf von Stauffenberg here in U.S. in the film Valkyrie, one finds that there’s actually a lot more to the story than him.

On July 20, 1944, a handful of German officers attempted to put an end to the Third Reich’s war of world domination by assassinating Hitler. Led by the Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the group of 20 planted a bomb in a briefcase near Hitler during a meeting in the Wolfsschanze, Hitler’s military headquarters located near the East Prussian town of Rastenburg, now known as Kętrzyn, Poland. The plot, however, failed as Hitler was partially shielded from the bomb’s explosion by the legs of the heavy oak table under which the briefcase had been placed. Hitler survived with minor injuries, and although the conspirators and Stauffenberg briefly escaped and attempted to put “Operation Valkyrie,” the seizure of control of the German government, into action, they were finally captured and summarily executed that same evening. The war went on as Hitler interpreted his survival as “divine providence.” Stauffenberg is seen now as a symbol of the German resistance.

An interesting article in Der Spiegel recounts the difficult time that the daughter of one of the organizers of the assassination plot had even after the war. Though seen as a hero in some eyes, Hansen and the rest of the conspirators were also seen by some as traitors, even after the war. Even now, the family hopes for positive recognition.

The memory of Stauffenberg is not without controversy. Immediately after his execution, the Nazi regime painted the attempted coup d’etat as the result of Stauffenberg’s own ambitions, while others have questioned how an officer who gladly participated in the war and in Nazi ideology up to 1943 could suddenly change sides if not as an opportunistic attempt to save his own skin. Most of these questions  have been put to rest and he’s now seen in a positive light.

Thus, Graf von Stauffenberg is regarded today as a man who followed his conscience and attempted to put an end to the German war against the world, not just because Germany was beginning to lose that war, but also because he saw how the oppression of foreign populations was wrong and that Germany could be freed if it somehow managed to escape from its madness. Had the assassination attempt been successful,  countless lives could have been saved and though it is difficult to say exactly how Germany would’ve weathered the end of the war, it is hard to imagine that the outcome wouldn’t have been somehow much better.

Some vocabulary for students of German:

der Sprengstoff – explosives

das Attentat – assassination; assassination attempt

“jedes Problem in der Welt ist lösbar durch den sorgsamen Einsatz von Sprengstoff” (from the movie trailer) – every problem in the world is solvable through the careful use of explosives. I just think students would get a kick out of that, although it could probably be misconstrued if taken too far out of context.

der Verräter – traitor

Wolfsschanze – Wolf’s Lair

Der Staatsstreich – coup d’etat

 

A Most Dangerous Book

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Yesterday’s Washington Post book reviews section introduces an interesting new book on the origins of 19th and 20th century German culture and history as seen through the lens of the Romans: A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich by Christopher B. Krebs.

Drawing from the Roman senator and historian Tacitus’ writings on Germania, the author traces a line of proto-nationalism that he claims existed in a moral homogeneity among the German tribes dating all the way back to Roman times, but seen also in the spirit of 1848, the Grimms, presumably in German Romanticism all the way through Kaiser Wilhelm and the justification of the Third Reich, as tribe becomes “Volk”:

“From the turn of the nineteenth century,” as Krebs writes, “the Roman historian was twisted to testify to the purity not only of the mores and the language but also and increasingly of the racial constitution of the Germanic ancestors as members of the Caucasian, then Aryan, and finally Nordic race. Racially pure the Germans had been; racially pure they should be again.”

 In those romantic years, the “Volkish” program embraced Teutonic folklore as chronicled by Jacob Grimm, the Northern myths as transformed by Richard Wagner into “The Ring of the Nibelung,” and various theories about racial degeneration and ethnic purity. Throughout this period, Tacitus was read as providing the template for what a true German should be, though his text sometimes needed to be slightly bowdlerized — those human sacrifices were emended as scribal errors. In 1871, the German “Volk” — long divided into separate states such as Prussia and Saxony — were finally united under the empire of Kaiser Wilhelm I.
Already a key text in German history textbooks, “Germania” took on a darker identity in the 20th century as “a Bible for National Socialists.” The “golden booklet” obsessed Heinrich Himmler, so much so that the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany ordered special forces to steal the oldest surviving manuscript from an Italian villa. (They failed.) As Reichsfuehrer of the SS, Himmler deliberately modeled his dreaded elite troops after Tacitus’s descriptions of the tightknit bands of young warriors. As he ominously proclaimed in his diary, “Thus shall we be again.” Himmler duly insisted on SS initiates physically conforming to the blond muscleman ideal, even though, as Krebs notes, Himmler himself was “dark-haired, near-sighted, and flat chested.” One Nazi wit actually dared to remark, “If I looked like Himmler, I wouldn’t even mention the word race.”
Seen from the perspective of finding historical justification for German nationalism in all of its forms, it’s a very interesting hypothesis and one that’s been visited before. Obviously, tracing the origins of historical movements is likely more complex than can be attributed to any single source, but Kreb’s book looks like a good read and the early reviews have been very favorable. It’s now on my “to-read” list.

Wandrers Nachtlied

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Über allen Gipfeln

Ist Ruh,

In allen Wipfeln

Spürest du

Kaum einen Hauch;

Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.

Warte nur, balde

Ruhest du auch.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Staatsbankett für Merkel – some thoughts on current German-American relations

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Tomorrow will be a very important day in recent German-American relations as the President hosts Angela Merkel among others to an official state dinner for their visit in Washington and awards Merkel the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, our country’s highest civilian honor. The last time we awarded this to a German was Helmut Kohl.

Obama has praised Germany on the path that country has taken in creating green jobs and held Germany up as an example for how the United States might also gain traction in that field, promoting the idea that environmentally-friendly development and economic growth can actually go hand in hand. He also praised Merkel directly for her life story, calling it an “inspiration.” The entire event has been marked with heavy significance in the German media, and more than the usual passing 5 minute reports here. Even Merkel’s husband will be in attendance, a rare occurrence, lending an air of importance to the event. From the looks of it, German-American relations may never have been in better shape, but behind the scenes, we all know that’s not the case.

Actual relations between Germany and the U.S. are pretty complex. Germany’s current economic power at the head of Europe and its standing in the world have never been better, but Germany is also seen as being on an isolationist, lonely course. Case in point, chief among the criticisms is that while German exports are incredibly high, a result of quality, high-tech manufacturing coupled with a willingness to train and retrain workers (and foot the bill for it!), German domestic consumption is low, a point that Obama surely brought up along with a suggestion that the Chancellor do more to encourage consumption of American products. Another more extreme example of the Germans going it alone, causing consternation not just for the U.S. but for the rest for Europe, is Germany’s current decision to shut down all nuclear power by 2022. That’s a big, bold move that causes all sorts of issues that I won’t get into here. Suffice it to say that there are going to be plenty of things to be ironed out between Germany and the rest of the world and Germany is in a position to drive much of its own destiny despite the wishes of the rest of the world if it so chooses. Hence the biggest criticism launched is disappointment at the fact that Germany has not, instead, taken “eine führende Rolle” (a leading role) in the world despite having the clout to do so.

Again, my point in raising all of this is not to take a position on whether I believe that either German or American international policy is on the right track, since that’s a larger discussion better left to places that focus on international politics, but more to raise awareness that Germany and Merkel are in such a position that they can safely be more independent and uncompromising. It is an interesting situation from the standpoint of someone like me who advocates for learning and teaching the German language and culture, which was raised recently on the AATG mailing list in response to a Newsweek article about Merkel as Europe’s “Wunder Woman.” The telling point, for me, was this:

It was early afternoon in Berlin, and Merkel was taking time out of her rigidly programmed schedule to meet with an American reporter—a rare concession for a politician who almost never talks to the foreign press. And Merkel exerted as much control as she could over the process.

Wearing a prim beige jacket and black pants, Merkel kept her answers concise, in German, and with her press attaché firmly at her side as a timekeeper. But her unyielding demeanor—and insistence on speaking her native tongue—was broken when I paused to admire the view from the window. The Germans, after unification, built a dazzling, celebratory cityscape along the former East-West fault line. Switching to English, Merkel, who grew up in the Communist East, admitted she still found it surprising to be going to work each day “on this side”—in the former West Berlin—“and not on the other side.”

Germany is in a position it wasn’t in years ago. Years ago, we were talking about why Americans should study German when every German out there seemed to have mastered English (not true, really) and it was solely in Germany’s economic interest to appropriate as much of our culture and language as possible. Now we see as the Chancellor gönnt an American reporter an interview, provided that the interview be conducted in German. The code-switching at the end is a clue, not a sign of weakness: she could’ve conducted it in English; she was showing that she could and that she chose not to.

English didn’t become the lingua-franca for international politics and business because everyone just assumed it was easier and more fun to speak. There was (and still is) a strong economic advantage in knowing English and being able to conduct business with the United States and that’s not likely to change for some time. However, as we see Germany rise to economic prominence over Europe, we should also expect that the German language will becoming increasingly prominent as well. They are, after all, in an economic position to insist upon its inclusion. Whereas 10 years ago learning German might’ve conveyed some advantage to those wanting to conduct business with Germany, it may very well over the next 10 years become a requirement, not in dealing with just that country either, but it could become the central European contact language.

Berlin the next startup capital?

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Berlin at night. Seen from the Allianz buildin...

Image via Wikipedia

From today’s Associated Press wire (via ABC news):

The same edgy spirit that made Berlin’s reputation as Europe’s top spot for pulsing nightlife and hip galleries is now attracting a different set of innovator — young high-tech entrepreneurs.

An abundance of computer-savvy grads from the four major universities in and around Berlin, and the presence of industry leaders including Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., make Berlin fertile ground for high-tech startups.

“Berlin is an attractive city for research that attracts many young, creative, smart people who give the impulse for high-tech startups,” said Knut Blind, chair of Innovation Economics at Berlin’s Technical University.

It’s been mentioned just about everywhere in the last couple months how well Germany has weathered and has been making huge gains coming out of the global recession and this just adds to it. Already economically the fourth strongest country in the world and first in Europe, the Germans are likely about to enjoy a golden decade of prosperity. I can’t think of a better place that a person could spend the next 10 years than Berlin and for young folks looking to make a name for themselves in high tech startups, I can’t think of a better language to be learning than German, either.