Germans in Britain

x600_556c36b67b284A touring exhibition about Germans in Britain by the Migration Museum Project opened last Sunday in Murray Edwards College in Cambridge. The exhibition runs until June 28th and focuses not only on specific German immigrants to Britain, but also on general influences some Germans have had on British life in various fields. The exhibition will also be accompanied by two public talks on June 18th and June 23rd. More information on the exhibition can be found on the Migration Museum Projects’s Homepage or on Murray Edwards College’s page. The topic of Germans in Britain has, of course, been widely discussed for decades and especially gained popularity in the aftermath of the World Championship in 2006. It is therefore not surprising that the UL holds a variety of books on the topic as well.

Historically, the relationship between Britain and Germany has always been an important one, even though some of the originally mutual fascination was largely replaced by scepticism and a cultural incomprehension during the 20th century (with ongoing consequences). The British-German relationship, especially from the mid-ninetieth century onwards, has thus also been the topic of  academic research in both countries. Rivalität und Partnerschaft by Gerhard A. Ritter and Peter Wende (570:01.c.75.46) thus gathers essays on a variety of related topics from the mutual perception of the two countries during the 19th century to the influence of Westminster as a model for the German Bundestag. Die ungleichen Partner : Deutsch-Britische Beziehungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert by Wolfgang J. Mommsen (533:1.c.95.355) has a very similar focus. It was published for the 50th anniversary of the Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft E.V., a society founded privately by citizens of Düsseldorf in 1949, as a new beginning between Germans and Britons.

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Keeping Up with the Germans by Philip Olterman (2013.8.980)

Another aspect of the British-German relationship is the ongoing presence of stereotypes. British Images of Germany : Admiration, Antagonism & Ambivalence, 1860-1914 by Richard Scully (545:1.c.201.7) takes a closer look at the specific perception of Germany and the Germans in Britain right up to the First World War by analysing maps, travel literature, fiction and political cartoons. Coping with the Relations (1996.8.4366) is a collection of “Anglo-German cartoons from the Fifties to the Nineties” that stems from an exhibition by the Goethe-Institut London and the University of Osnabrück and is presented in both English and German. And then there is the more recently published Keeping Up with the Germans : A History of Anglo-German Encounters by Philip Olterman (2013.8.980). The author, a German, moved to England with his parents at the age of 15. Having lived and worked in the UK ever since, his book provides some curious and rather entertaining insights into both cultures and their various, unique oddities (a paragraph about the author’s first encounter with a traditional Sunday roast is as bizarre as his attempt to explain the German obsession with Dinner for One, a sketch hardly known in Britain but shown without fail several times each New Year’s Eve on German TV).

Stephanie Palek

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