"But don't mention the war"

 

- does this famous slogan still characterise the British attitude towards Germany and the Germans? Do young people in Britain really think of the goose-stepping Basil figure, as it was famously portrayed by John Cleese in the seventies, or of any of the other stereotypes so commonly referred to by the tabloids? We wanted to find out and encouraged UK undergraduate students to send in their thoughts and ideas on Germany and the Germans by taking part in our essay competition 'But don't mention the war'.

80 students from various academic backgrounds (including Languages, History, European Studies, Sociology, Law, Journalism, Geography, Engineering, and Medicine) responded to us by the end of our closing date in January 2005, and their submissions were as diverse as their views and thoughts on Germany. The essay titles range from 'Das Ostalgie Phauml;nomen' and 'Ist Lola Rennt typisch deutsch?' to 'The decline of German Football' and provide a unique insight into the width of topics young people in the UK associate with Germany.

Ambassador Thomas Matussek and the Director of the DAAD London, Dr Nina Lemmens, were delighted to meet the prize-winners on Tuesday, 7 June, at the German Embassy. It was not an easy task for the jury to pick the prize-winners since all the essays were of high quality. We would like to thank all the participants of our essay competition for their excellent work and their great commitment and enthusiasm. Congratulations to all those who happen to find their name below. For those whose names are not on the list, please be assured that it was a joy to read your essay.

To our great pleasure, the event was broadcast on BBC NEWSNIGHT later that evening and was also widely covered by DER SPIEGEL ONLINE MAGAZINE. In fact, the competition gained such wide public interest in the UK as well as Germany that we decided to do a re-launch of 'But Don't Mention the War' the next year.

Many thanks, once again, to the German Embassy in London, the German-British Forum, Cornelsen Verlag, Smith Group, and Siemens for sponsoring this competition.

First prizes went to:

Oliver Hopwood, Warwick University, French/German Studies (English submission)
His award includes a one-month placement at Deutsche Welle World radio station in Bonn - on the English- or German-speaking programme in summer 2005 and a one-week work-experience on the BBC radio programme 'Europe Today' in London in summer 2005. The placement will involve observing and working as part of a small team on the programme. Read the essay (pdf, 214.25 KB).

 

Dr Nina Lemmens, Oliver Hopwood, Lucy Smith, Ambassador Thomas Matussek

Summer Course Scholarships at German Universities went to:

(in alphabetical order)
Harriet Brown, York University, English Literature (English submission)
Su-Ann Goh, Manchester University, European Studies/German (English submission)
Toby McMillan, Oxford University, French/German (English submission)
Tom Williams, Manchester University, Mechanical Engineering (German submission)

Cash prizes of £300 each went to:

(in alphabetical order)
Faith Dennis, Bristol University, German/Portuguese (English submission)
Rada Leu, King's College London, European Studies/French (German submission)
Sarah Waller, Oxford University, French/German (English submission)
Further book prizes went to:

(in alphabetical order)
Jasjeet Kaur Atwal, University College London; Diana Jane Beech, Durham University; Heidi Evans, Cambridge University; Eva Groeneveld, Cambridge University; Joanna Healy, Edinburgh University; Anna Patton, Bristiol University; Nabeelah Shabbir, Warwick University; Zuzana Svetlosakova, Cambridge University; Ewa Szypula, Oxford University; Ellen Tonkyn, Keele University; Fiona Wallace, Leeds University

Congratulations!