• Germany's news in English
 

How I learned to stop laughing and love The Hoff

The Local · 19 Mar 2013, 14:10

Published: 19 Mar 2013 14:10 GMT+01:00

It's time to stop hassling Germans about The Hoff.

Ever since David Hasselhoff sang to half a million giddy Germans celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the English-speaking world has ridiculed the country's supposed infatuation with the US entertainer.

There's no denying his schmaltzy song "Looking for Freedom" did, in fact, hit number one in Germany that year. And posters of The Hoff most certainly adorned the walls of adolescent bedrooms from Stuttgart to Rostock for a few years.

But as much as Americans or Brits like to tout Hasselhoff's alleged popularity here as proof of how deeply uncool Germans are, the former star of "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch" is not some sort of Teutonic messiah.

And so it was with great trepidation that some German acquaintances heard last week that Hasselhoff was coming to Berlin to show his support for protests against plans to demolish one of the last remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall.

Would this not permanently reinforce the modern legend that millions of Germans idolize a mediocre singer and star of kitschy TV shows? Would two decades of hard work trying to wash away The Hoff stigma be all for naught?

My friends then watched in horror on Sunday as Hasselhoff took part in a demonstration aiming to protect part of the Wall known as the East Side Gallery from construction work for a footbridge and luxury flats.

His mere presence drew a huge international media scrum, ready to mock both the ageing actor and the thousands of Germans turning out for the demonstration. Sure, he sang "Looking for Freedom" a cappella to the crowd, but then something unexpected happened.

Hasselhoff made some sincerely felt comments about why he thought it was a serious mistake not to preserve the remaining segment of the Wall. He spoke of the grim scenes he saw while he was travelling in East Germany just after the Iron Curtain fell and described how the people there were full of hope.

He said the Wall was hallowed ground – not a place to carve up for a luxury property development. He even offered to help raise money to preserve the area.

It quickly became clear that the peaceful revolution in 1989 still means something to Hasselhoff. And the sacrifices people made to achieve German reunification still mean something to him, too.

His appearance in front of the crumbling Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on New Year's Eve in 1989 in a blinking jacket might be a joke to millions of other people, but not to him. He's repeatedly said it was one of the most special moments in his life – certainly more than filming slow-motion beach scenes with a buxom blonde Canadian pretending to be a Californian beach bunny.

Has Hasselhoff suddenly become an intellectual heavyweight? Of course not. Nor is he going to become mayor of the German capital any time soon. But he has showed a lot more passion and sense of history than many of the city's politicians of late.

Many Berliners, frustrated by how their impoverished city is apparently being sold to highest bidder with the consequences be damned, praised his willingness to fly all the way from America to show his support for its history and heritage.

Maybe Hasselhoff's engagement won't stop the construction of the luxury flats. Maybe the East Side Gallery will still be carved up. But I'm not ashamed to say I've been inspired by The Hoff and neither should anyone else anymore.

Marc Young

marc.young@thelocal.com

twitter.com/marcyoung

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:54 March 19, 2013 by Bigfoot76
When you see the Hoff, you can laugh at him. When the Hoff sees your bank account, he will laugh at you.
23:13 March 19, 2013 by MaKo
While I'm not sure I can say that I've learned to love 'The Hoff', I had a similar experience. I was all geared up to ridicule him, but then, when I mentioned the story to my husband over dinner, my sons started asking questions about who or what a "Hoff" is, and if there was really a wall.

This lead to a talk about history with my sons, the rarest of parent-child talks, in which they were actually listening. The wall, the occupation, the reasons for it. So Hoff love 'hin oder her', his presence did spur a meaningful discussion in my home.

So I'm not ridiculing now. Also, I don't need to... Bayern 3 did a pretty good job of that.
15:30 March 20, 2013 by BLAKE IT UP!
VERY important points in this article, such as :

"...he has showed a lot more passion and sense of history than many of the city's politicians of late."

and

"...impoverished city (Berlin) is apparently being sold to highest bidder with the consequences be damned"

YES, since coming here to get away some distance from the American consumer lifestyle, I have slowly seen the Berlin culture become Americanized with with a spiteful attitude against the hand that feeds them.

All the while their city gets sold out by their own.

Honestly, it's like watching someone accuse you for something while they get stabbed in the back -in slow motion.

I hope the people of international Berlin wake up and see that it doesn't matter how famous or poor you are or what language you speak, it's what you do in the city that counts... are you here just for an investment, promotion, party -or are you here because you want to learn something?

Think of America, the once beautiful land, now one big shopping mall.

THis "Hoff" story says a lot. People got to step back and see what peoples actions are, rather than judging all the time without reason.
20:27 March 20, 2013 by Masala
who's gonna tell the Hoff there's a type-O on his t-shirt?
20:27 March 22, 2013 by Drewsky
Wow; this issue doesn't seem to be getting much press in the USA. If I could get to Germany right now, I would be happy to join Der Hoff and his merry gang. I believe I'll get a letter off to Angela about this. That Wall has so much history. For me, it's the indelible image of that Soviet-U.S. panzer-tank standoff in the early 60s. Those photos are all over the place in Berlin.
10:26 March 23, 2013 by soros
David Hasselhoff may not be German and he may not speak the language, but he does identify with German culture perhaps how only Auslandsdeutscher can.

Often Germans living in the homeland just dump on "sentimental" attachments to history; they are willing to shove things under the carpet quickly and get on with history; but not those Germans who live outside the country. Many find significance in die Mauer and other symbols that Germans may take for granted or find embarrassing.

Germans should be grateful that an American takes an interest in German history to this extent. He is sincere and not as cynical as a lot of you have become.

Personally, as someone who worked in West Berlin when the Wall was up and people were shot in the back trying to climb it, I find any attempt at getting rid of this landmark REPREHENSIBLE. Just because someone wants to make a quick buck does not mean we have to erase important landmarks of history.
12:14 March 24, 2013 by notelove2
thank you David Hasselhof for caring enough to actually come and support Berliners. Hey DON'T take away any more of our history - it MUST NOT be forgotton.
17:06 March 27, 2013 by Lavendelblauen
Does history have to repeat itself all over again before the 'powers that be' realize that some things should NEVER be destroyed ...what a cowardly act by officials!
04:39 March 29, 2013 by RainerL
Good on him for supporting the plight to keep the memorial part of the Berlin Wall alive. How ever" Every time I look at Hasselhoff I see an eerie plastic Face. You are an old Man (60 years) trying to remain as some sort of young Sex symbol. Get over it!! You are old Hat. Accept it for what it is but keep at it with the Berlin Wall. For that you have my admiration.
Today's headlines
Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin
Excavation of the mosque site outside Berlin. Photo: Freie Universität

Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin

10 hours ago

Archaeologists have excavated the remains of Germany's oldest mosque on the outskirts of Berlin, a team from the capital city's Free University (FU) announced on Monday.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place
The Malaysia Airlines plane which disappeared on March 8th 2014. Photo: Laurent ERRERA / Wikimedia Commons.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place

10 hours ago

German scientists have challenged conventional wisdom on the crash site of the MH370, the Malaysia Airlines plane missing since March 2014, suggesting the search is being conducted in the wrong place.

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn
What's not to love about the start of Lebkuchen season? Photo: DPA

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn

11 hours ago

September 1st may be the first day of autumn, but it's not all sad news for those living in Germany. Here are five reasons why we should welcome autumn with open arms.

Opinion
Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps
Students in a lecture theatre at Cologne University. Photo: DPA

Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps

12 hours ago

Finnish student Juuso Nisula moved to Cologne to study business administration, but found a catalogue of failings instead in the model of German educational efficiency he was expecting. He explains just what went wrong - and how to fix it - in an opinion piece republished by The Local.

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts
Photo:DPA

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts

13 hours ago

A court in Berlin has ordered a teenager to pay €500 in damages to his 13-year-old ex-girlfriend after sharing intimate pictures of her over WhatsApp, the girl's lawyer has revealed.

Migrant crisis
Munich police swamped with refugee donations
A woman working for Refugee Aid Munich (Flüchtlingshilfe München) hands a soft toy to a refugee child. Photo: DPA

Munich police swamped with refugee donations

20 hours ago

UPDATE: As over 1,000 refugees arrived in Munich from Hungary by train on Tuesday, police in the Bavarian capital said they were "overwhelmed" by the amount of food, water and other supplies donated by local people to those in need.

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start

14 hours ago

Germany coach Joachim Löw is backing Bastian Schweinsteiger to brush off his shaky start at Manchester United when he captains his country in Friday's key Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

Unemployment level stays at record low
Photo: DPA

Unemployment level stays at record low

15 hours ago

German unemployment remained at historically low levels in August as the recovery in Europe's biggest economy continued on track, data showed on Tuesday.

Bavarian minister uses n-word on live TV
Singer Roberto Blanco (left) and Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann (right). Photo: DPA:

Bavarian minister uses n-word on live TV

17 hours ago

Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann (CDU) has become the target of widespread outrage after calling singer Roberto Blanco a "wonderful negro" on live television - and failing to apologize when challenged on Tuesday morning.

Orang-utan shot after shocking zoo breakout
File photo: DPA

Orang-utan shot after shocking zoo breakout

19 hours ago

Zoo workers in Duisburg shot an orang-utan late on Monday evening after two of the apes escaped from their cage in the westerly city.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,937
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd