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German Fans Deflated by Dramatic World Cup Loss


The host of this year's World Cup competition is out of the competition. Germany's dream of victory was shattered yesterday when Italy scored twice in the final minutes of overtime. Germans had been euphoric over their team's success, which makes the letdown now even greater. NPR's Emily Harris reports from Berlin.

(Soundbite of firecrackers)

EMILY HARRIS reporting:

Minutes after Italy won the semi-final with two goals against Germany in the last two minutes of play, a few lone firecrackers burst over the rooftops of Mitte, a Berlin neighborhood packed with bars. Mitte's streets have been a cacophony of shrieks and horns after every German World Cup game until now. Last night was pretty quiet.

One all-night bar quickly turned on a pop song with an Italian theme.

(Soundbite of song “Mambo Italiano”)

Ms. ROSEMARY CLOONEY (Singer): (singing) Hey, mambo! Mambo italiano! Hey, mambo! Mambo italiano…

HARRIS: By nine this morning, a small group of German fans were still drinking there. Schteffo(ph) didn't give his last name, but he offered his heartfelt feelings.

Mr. SCHTEFFO: We are very sad, sad German peoples, you know - very, very sad.

HARRIS: His friend, Torstan Schmidt(ph) was still nursing a rum and coke. He tried to take the high road.

Mr. TORSTAN SCHMIDT: The offense was very good and it was normal Italian game. It was a very good Italian game.

HARRIS: But Schteffo kept interrupting to sing a song about winning the World Cup that Germans have been shouting and humming for weeks.

MR. SCHTEFFO: (Singing in foreign language)

HARRIS: Another German fan at the table, 24-year-old Robert Schtenki(ph), didn't sing along; he philosophized.

Mr. ROBERT SCHTENKI: It's only the motivation. We have to motivate us and the German team is very young and maybe it will work. Now, we have the European Cup and we are better than (bleeped) Italia and maybe next game it will better for us.

HARRIS: Over the past weeks of the World Cup, Germans of all ages and backgrounds have draped themselves in the national flag, painted red, gold and black on their bodies, and bought Mohawk wigs and fake flower leis in the national colors.

This passionate and open display has led, unsurprisingly, to soul-searching. Is it okay, 60 years after World War II, for Germans to act in a way that suggests nationalism?

Thomas Lundser(ph) runs a shop selling flags of all nations. He hopes that some of the joy that led to German flag-waving will stick around.

Mr. THOMAS LUNDSER: We are very happy to see that most of the Germans are now optimistical feeling; normally, we are pessimistical feeling. Germans are mostly looking a little bit sad and a little bit ooh, all will be very bad. But, in this time, it change, and I hope that this good feeling will continue all the whole summer and the next year.

HARRIS: Happiness, he says, is very different from nationalistic German pride.

Mr. LUNDSER: Proud is a bad word for this. I'm living here because I was born in Germany. If I was born in Africa, I would be an African, but we cannot be proud about where are your birthplace? But, it's okay; I like my country, even this morning.

HARRIS: Emily Harris, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.