On a day when the Chinese Vice-Premier is meeting with the Japanese leadership, it seems appropriate to think about reconciling remaining differences from the Second World War.
From my perspective as a sometime scholar of the Chinese past and its depiction in CCP propaganda, I view France and Germany as among the most active societies and governments on earth in coming to terms with the past. Yet there is still plenty to argue about.
These differences often reach most emotionally down to the level of art and music.
This article from Le Figaro’s Paris-Berlin blog details one such misunderstanding about that famous prior German national anthem, “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles,” a song and its harmonization brought into being via “Papa” Franz Joseph Hadyn and amped up by the Nazi Party in 1933. Apparently the French Ministry of Defense, unaware that the Germans had discontinued using the anthem in 1991 (and had cleansed its more militant verses since 1950), put the selection on a program for a French military choir to be sung under the Arc d’Triumphe on November 11, 2009 in honor of Franco-German reconciliation.
This very much reminds me of the flap when George W. Bush’s protocol master shouted out “the Premier of the Republic of China!” in the White House red-carpet ceremony just before the U.S. Army Band launched into a version of the “Song of the People’s Volunteers.”
In any case, the comments on the above article indicate there is still plenty of work to do in Franco-German relations. Once Chinese and Japanese get to debate and discuss face-to-face the meaning of “Kimigayo” and the PRC’s stridently anti-Japanese national anthem, perhaps, we will be getting somewhere.