• Germany's news in English
Hamburg left rejects call for German flags outside schools
Photo: DPA

Hamburg left rejects call for German flags outside schools

Tom Barfield · 21 Mar 2016, 16:42

Published: 21 Mar 2016 15:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Mar 2016 16:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Visibly installing German and European flags can offer an important and positive contribution to considering and identifying with the values of the Constitution and the European Community," Christian Democratic Union (CDU) school policy spokeswoman Karin Prien told the Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday.

In the proposal tabled before the Hamburg city parliament, the CDU argues that the "symbolic act" of hanging the two flags at schools would bring up questions and lead to discussion about German values and democracy.

Flags should be accompanied with an "explanatory poster" that explains their symbolism, the proposal adds.

SEE ALSO: Schwarz-Rot-Gold: A nation's history in colour

Other countries marked by high levels of immigration – such as the USA – have successfully used flags and national anthems to create "additional emotional identification" with the nation, it continues, which could help "fend off threats to our open society."

Not your average flag

The CDU's is a controversial proposition in a society which still has a complicated relationship with its flag.

While most Germans are comfortable displaying the black, red and gold on special occasions like football matches, it's rarely used in a political context unless protocol demands it.

For many, pride in the national colours comes uncomfortably close to nationalism – something almost all Germans shrink away from – although the black, red and gold was not the flag of Germany in either World War in the 20th Century.

At celebrations of her 60th birthday Chancellor Angela Merkel typified this mindset when she refused to wave a German flag which an aide passed to her.

That's also why many viewers were uncomfortable when Alternative for Germany (AfD) spokesman Björn Höcke hung a miniature flag from his armchair during a talk show appearance in October 2015.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) spokesman Björn Höcke hangs a German national flag on his chair during an  appearance on the Günther Jauch talk show in October 2015. Photo: NDR/dpa

Left dismisses the plan

As the CDU are in opposition in Hamburg, currently governed by Social Democratic Party (SPD) mayor Olaf Scholz in coalition with the Green Party, the flag plan has no chance of becoming reality without agreement from left-wingers.

And that looked like a remote possibility on Monday afternoon.

"Schools mostly have flagpoles and the corresponding flags. They are used for certain national or school occasions," Hamburg SPD representative Gerhard Lein told The Local via email.

Ordering or pressuring schools to fly flags daily would be "wrong and populist," he went on.

Story continues below…

CDU politicians ought to be pushing for a law governing immigration and integration at the federal level, Lein said.

"The idea of making a successful contribution to integration with flags outside Hamburg schools is simply absurd," Hamburg Green Party interior policy spokeswoman Antje Möller told The Local in an emailed statement.

"What the children and young people learn in school about living well together in our society is much more decisive than a black, red and gold flag."

Möller added that when it came to integrating refugees in German society, the city government had set up "orientation units" in accommodation centres and organized conversations with judges, the police, trades unions and others for the newcomers.

SEE ALSO: Right-wingers skewered over 'obligatory pork' plan

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd