To be German is not a walk in the Park: love at first sound


30 years ago, Zhang Danhong came to Cologne. In the coming weeks, she tells of her first encounter with the German language and their Integration into the enigmatic country. It started with a test.

Zhang Danhong in the Brauhaus Sion in Cologne

It is an examination of the particularly relaxed. I was only parroting what I was says pre – sets in cryptic languages I’ve heard in my whole eight years of life never. Things to parrot, of which you have no clue, I could probably at least as good as a parrot. Satisfied Smile spread on the faces of the auditors.

A language seemed to me to be particularly. Metallic and rhythmic sound. Because the syllables were clearly separated from each other, I found the words and the words are clearly structured and easy to remember. After the end of the test, the teacher, the this me very sympathetic language had auditioned patted me on the shoulder: “If You pass the policy Check, You will be in the German class.”

We write the year 1974. The “Great Proletarian cultural revolution” had already raged for eight years. The economy and education were in shambles. Mao brought back the pragmatic politician Deng Xiaoping from exile, to relieve the sick Premier Zhou Enlai and to keep the gang of four to the First Lady in chess. The school slowly returned to normal. The Beijing foreign language school, language-gifted, and to make reasonably nice looking children will find them on a possible Diplomatic career. But still, the spirit of the cultural revolution was. The main criterion for the inclusion of neither school performance nor the linguistic talent, but the political Background of the family. Finally, the future diplomats should have politically correct roots, and red offspring (根正苗红).

Deng Xiaoping made in the 1970s for peace and order to the Chinese schools

A grandfather that I didn’t know that was my Problem

Of course I am a red Bud, I was convinced. Finally, my parents were decent squad and proud party members. However, to check the consistency of my roots, was not sufficient for my parents. The foreign language school had to rule out the possibility that no one of my four grandparents before the seizure of power by the Communists in 1949, as a capitalist or landowner, the hands dirty had made through the exploitation of workers and peasants. My petite and fragile grandma on the maternal side, lived since my birth with us, I could not imagine the best will, as a Ausbeuterin. For the other three, all of which had been blessed before I was born, the Time, I didn’t want to put my Hand into the fire.

Ultimately, my grandfather on my father’s side to blame, that it didn’t work out with the shooting in the German class. He was a capitalist or landowner. He was the intellectual in the village, and not to use for field work, said my father. So he had to rely on seasonal workers. This fact alone meant that he was classified as a rich peasant. He had treated the labourers with respect and not exploited, said my father to save the honor of my grandfather. To me this did not help. A rich farmer is not a member of the proletariat, the Revolution is based. So, I’m not a red, but in the best case, a pink Bud.

Curious about the German language

A brilliant diplomatic career was nipped in the Bud. Pitying looks that accompanied me in school and at home. In retrospect, I think that I don’t mean non-existent grief a little, and cultivate and the bad Conscience of my father would have to take advantage of. Then I could probably enjoy for a while the fool’s freedom.

But I was not kinked at all. On the contrary, That the German class was denied, triggered a classic, despite the reaction This strange language, the sound as hard and choppy as marching orders – was able to stay with me and even stolen.

The Poet and revolutionary, Guo Moruo

After this, in spite of phase, a certain amount of curiosity in my deepest Inner self awoke. In the small library of my parents, I was looking for German literature and came across Goethe’s “Faust”, translated by Guo Moruo, a companion of Mao and the great Poet. Later, I did not know that Guo of the German language was powerful. He was the story of doctor Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles to tell, and wrote his own seal. From the language of the Poet-Duos, I was overwhelmed, also if I have understood the contents of the “fist” at the time zero. I was only ten years old.