Last year, we came to Berlin a month after the FIFA World Cup. I don’t watch much football (“soccer” in American), but I actually like the game when it’s played well (unlike the way it’s played in Israel. We do have an occasional shining star every once in a while, but they usually go to Europe). And I really liked the German team under Jürgen Klinsmann (who I absolutely adore).
Contrary to all prejudices against German football, the national team was definitely the living spirit of the tournament (I didn’t notice even one bunker!), which was pretty mediocre in general (sorry to say it, but the English team almost made me fall into a coma). It went very well with Germany’s attempt to present the world the new, fun face of a nation, which is usually known as depressed, gloomy, and without humor.
As a part of this new image marketing, they developed the “Land of Ideas” project, to show that Germany gave the world some good things, not only WW2. Among those good things are aspirin, the car, Gutenberg (modern printing), some very fine composers, writers, scientists etc (I myself am particularly fond of German philosophers, but it’s probably not the most marketable subject nowadays…).
The project includes many things, intended to promote Germany’s reputation. Among these things is the “Walk of Ideas” in Berlin, six giant sculptures representing, as say the organizers, “the inventiveness and wealth of ideas in Germany”.
The first sculpture to be unveiled (in March 2006) was “the modern football shoe”, which was developed by the Dassler family. The brothers Dassler, Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf, were the founders of Adidas and Puma, respectively.
The other sculptures are “milestones of medicine” (a giant aspirin pill), “the automobile”, “modern book printing” (a giant tower of books in Bebelplatz), “masterpieces of music” and “the theory of relativity”. In case you did not have the opportunity to see the “Walk of Ideas” in Berlin, you can experience it now as a virtual sightseeing tour.
The whole project co-operates with the government, commerce and industry and social institutions that share the goal of promoting Germany’s reputation. Its patron is the German President Horst Köhler. In the second half of 2007 it is focused on cooperation with China, and it is involved in the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, a gathering of 100 high ranking opinion leaders and media makers in Potsdam, to discuss and share thoughts and ideas, under the heading “The East-West Media Bridge”.