Friday, December 17, 2004

Mayor of Berlin Doesn't Know When WWII Started

It's a common observation that Americans don't know much about history. I say that sometimes and I'm American. Well take heart Americans, here's the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, answering questions on TV.

'Turning to Wowereit, he [the host] asked, "In what year did Germany invade Poland, spawning the Second World War, and in what year did that war end?"

Wowereit blushed. Then he rubbed his chin. He looked skyward. "That was, er, ah, hmm, let me see, now," he stammered. As the viewers nationwide gawped in disbelief, Wowereit shrugged and was about to give up when a voice from the audience shouted: "It was 1939 to 1945, you dolt."

"Oh yes, it started in nineteen thirty-, er, what?" Again the voice from the audience roared out: "Thirty-nine!" "Oh, yes, it started in 1939 and ended in 1945," the visibly embarrassed politician said."

First, this is hilarious. The mayor of freaking Berlin no less. Notice that he didn't even get the decade. Wowereit just, er, stammered. Second, is the schadenfreude, thick, tasty schadenfreude. It's a good way to start your day. Low in calories and goes well with coffee. Third, what does this say about German education? I bet even George W Bush, whom our Teutonic allies scorn as an idiot, knows when World War II started.

Next time the host should ask a German politician, 'when did Muslim Turks invade German speaking peoples and lay siege to their cities?' Careful, it's a trick question.


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