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Letter: German obsession

Sir: By asserting that interest in the Second World War has become "the spiritual core of Britain's national identity" (report, 15 February), Germany's Culture Minister, Michael Naumann, demonstrates that he needs all the help he can get in coming to grips with our obsessions.

To begin with, he ought to telephone Jurgen Klinsmann, who was labelled Britain's favourite footballer during the Euro 96 football tournament and who witnessed the backlash to the Daily Mirror's opportunistic "Achtung! Surrender" headline from the public and the rest of the media.

Mr Naumann should then try to get hold of the following antidotes to his hackneyed view of us: British dance music magazines, to catch up on articles enthusing about German techno-music DJs; cycling magazines, to be reminded of the popularity of the racing cyclist Jan Ullrich; Volkswagen's television commercials making a virtue of German obsession with detail and quality. He should round off his research by viewing the TV ad in which the German model Claudia Schiffer disrobes for the benefit of Citroen. Then he should come to Newcastle upon Tyne to watch Dietmar Hamann being idolised by his Geordie fans, and invite some of them to join him in the pub for a bottle of German pils, which they will readily accept.

It is fair to say we may be obsessed with things German, but it is not fair to say we are obsessed with the war.

Professor DAVID HEAD

Department of Modern Languages

University of Northumbria at Newcastle