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"Mentally Ill" German Plush Toys Hit Market

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Germans are more comfortable than ever showing pride in their national traditions and culture, according to a New York Times report. Which is nice for Germans, but unsettling for the rest of us who are deeply weirded out by German culture.

The basic dynamic is a generational one, with younger Germans feeling increasingly distant from the shame of the Nazi era. “I don’t really feel touched by it,” one German teen told the Times. Well, they're certainly touched by something.

Case in point: This new line of German plush toys with psychiatric illnesses -- a turtle with severe depression, a crocodile with an irrational fear of water, an obsessive-compulsive hippo -- which kids are meant to pretend to treat. Paraplush, the company behind these portraits of cartoon animal anguish, cites the toys' vulnerability as central to their appeal. We shouldn't be shocked, these being the people who invented language's only word for taking pleasure in others' suffering.

(In case you're still not creeped out, watch the English version of Paraplush's Flash video explaining the toys' origins. Its opening lines are, "In a soulless world, its inhabitants spineless, spoiled by a consumerist culture, and yet lonely," and it only gets more Werner Herzog-esque from there.)

Even pro-vegetarian activism -- which in America makes up for being annoying by employing partial nudity wherever possible -- has taken a sinister turn in Germany. In one case that grabbed international headlines, a website promoted the opening of a restaurant serving human flesh in Berlin before being revealed as a hoax meant to draw attention to the evils of meat. Not only is the logic hard to follow, it's downright disturbing when you realize Germany is thought to have hundreds of active cannibals.

If it's any consolation, at least there's no need to fear German expansionism anymore: The postwar system of conscription, aimed at creating a military of average Germans, does seem to have resulted in a completely nonthreatening armed forces. Check out this video of today's goofy, dancing-obsessed Luftwaffe for proof:

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