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Ingeborg Majer O'Sickey

In November 1993, more than fifty years after patrons of the popular

Café Josty on the famed Potsdamer Platz in Berlin came to enjoy a

good cup of coffee and a piece of cake, or smoke a rare fine cigar

before the bombs would raze the café to the ground, a hydraulic excavator’s

bucket stopped in mid-air and miraculously saved five white

porcelain cups with the initials CJ engraved upon each one in red.

The delicate cups had rested under no more than ten feet of loose soil

and rubble near the place where the café’s basement had been. The

bombs that fell on the Potsdamer Platz between 1943 and May 1945

and a scoop by an excavator bucket bookend a series of perilous situations

the cups survived. The East German regime sent tanks across

the square during the uprising in June of 1953, and the wall separating

Berlin was built right through the middle of it in August of 1961.

After lying dormant and overgrown with weeds for many of its subsequent

thirty years, the Potsdamer Platz was finally all but leveled; the

Weinhaus Huth was the only building that escaped the dynamite and

wrecker ball. The swing of the wrecking ball made room for the most

controversial construction project in recent German history: the citywithin-

a-city Daimler-Benz would build on the Potsdamer Platz.

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Ingeborg Majer-O'Sickey

As host of the 2006 soccer World Cup in June and July 2006, Germany was suddenly full of different Germans, waving millions of black-red-gold mini flags and wearing their (and others') national colors with abandon. Was this show of nationalism a new kind of trans/national patriotism? Most certainly, the national enthusiasm exhibited in Germany had nothing whatsoever to do with past demonstrations of patriotism. With the focus on the country as host to world soccer aficionados, the world also learned of a multicultural Germany that has existed for the last fifty years or so. It learned that it is not always successful with its social and economic problems, and that the desire for national unity is sometimes difficult to fulfill. Quite correctly, the national media described Germany as joyous, generous, and open-minded hosts. In the foreign press, too, the old stereotypes were broken down.