I almost choked on my big fat German wiener when I saw these photographs in the local Bavarian newspaper. Apologies for their quality. If you look closely you’ll see images of children – some with their faces ‘blackened’ – to make them look like Jesus’ Three Kings for Three Kings Day on January 6. I hasten to add these were taken this year in 2013, not sometime in the 1930s.
For a country so desperate to escape its Nazi past, Germany really surprises me sometimes. Maybe I’m too uptight and British. Maybe the fact that this just wouldn’t happen in Britain today says that society there has become too politically correct. Or maybe living in Bavaria has made me lose touch with reality. “They’re just trying to represent the Three Kings better,” a local explained to me. Personally, I don’t think they need to smear children’s faces in black paint to do so. Before I moved to Germany a year ago I wrote a list of what my expectations of this country and its people were. “Highly-intelligent, forward-thinking society” was on it. But when I see this proudly splashed across the local news I really do wonder.
Having spent a few days thinking over the pictures I have come to the conclusion that those responsible are not intentionally racist. I’m sure the children and the adults behind their supervision would be horrified to think they could cause offence. The problem is, there are very few black people in Bavaria outside of Munich. I guess if there were more black children here then church groups celebrating Three Kings Day wouldn’t be able to get away with doing something so ignorant. The people would hold them accountable. Why am I getting so worked out about it? Well, I’m in the process of deciding whether Germany is a good place to bring up my son, now aged nine months. He was born here, and I figured that Germany would be a better place for him than England. If it was just me, I probably wouldn’t ponder these issues so much. What do you think? Are these pictures racist, offensive or just harmless fun? Does Bavaria need to move with the times more? I would be REALLY interested to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment!
On a lighter note, I did have a good laugh at how badly these youngsters were made up. Poor things.