Example or deterrent? The role of the Netherlands in German post-war public debate
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How a writer describes a foreign state reveals less about the country or its people than about the author himself. The stereotypes used and the overall image that is painted shows how the other country is defined as different, thereby illuminating the conscious or unconscious self-image of the own nation. While the question of how Germany is perceived by its smaller neighbours has often been researched, the reverse is far less common. In the case of the Netherlands, the overwhelming majority of research has looked at the Dutch view of the Germans, with very little attention paid to the reverse. This thesis investigates the reporting by two German weekly newspapers, Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, by looking at three charged subjects that have caused much ink to be spilled in the decades after the Second World War: illegal drugs, abortion and euthanasia. By looking at how and when the Dutch situation was reported on with regard to these subjects, and at how it was placed in the German debate, an image of the view of these papers on the German situation is revealed. A further chapter takes a slightly broader view, looking at how the rise of anti-immigrant populism in the Netherlands changed the view of the stereotypical Dutch tolerance. Overall it shows that the Netherlands are used as an example for the German situation, for good or bad. And that, despite adjustments in the 21st century, the stereotype of the Dutch as a pragmatic, tolerant nation as opposed to the less pragmatic Germans remains.