• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
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

"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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Germany's 'James Bond' goes on trial over tax evasion
Werner Mauss. Photo: DPA.

Germany's former top spy, Werner Mauss, went on trial on Monday accused of hiding millions of euros from authorities.

Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship
Photo: DPA

Ariel would be proud.

Gallery
15 pics that prove Germany is totally enchanting in autumn
The Max-Eyth-See in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

As summer fades into a distant memory and you start to begrudge trading Birkenstocks for boots, these pictures may help change your perspective on the new chill in the air.

Left politician who smuggled refugee could lose immunity
Diether Dehm. Photo: DPA.

Die Linke (Left Party) politician Diether Dehm could lose his immunity as an elected official after he admitted to smuggling a refugee into Germany.

Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record in Berlin marathon win
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,513
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd