Eurovision 'Fraeulein Wunder' cheers grumpy Germans
40,000 welcome Lena home
With the eurozone in crisis, government coffers bare, the national football team in trouble and even the weather awful, victory in the Eurovision Song Contest gave Germany a rare reason for cheer today.
Lena Meyer-Landrut was on the front page of every German newspaper, even the normally staid business daily Handelsblatt and the somewhat stuffy Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, dubbing her "Fraeulein Wunder" ("Miss Wonder").
The mass-circulation Bild devoted almost all of its front page and three "special pages" to the 19-year-old, declaring: "LENA, wir lieben dich!" ("LENA, we love you!").
"Europe loves us -- and finally we're in a good mood," the paper said. In 2008 when No Angels spectacularly failed to impress the judges, the paper wondered why no one in Europe liked Germany.
The chirpy brunette's victory in the European song fest in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Saturday with the catchy "Satellite" was only the second time Germany has won in the contest's 55-year-history.
The last time Germans were able to celebrate Eurovision success was in 1982, when the Berlin Wall was still up. In the case of Meyer-Landrut -- born in 1991 -- that was more than a lifetime ago.
More than 120 million viewers across 39 European countries, but also as far afield as Myanmar, Australia and New Zealand, watched Meyer-Landrut, who has only just finished her final school exams, take the honours.
Bild estimated that 40,000 cheering fans welcomed her back in her home town of Hanover on Sunday.
Politicians fell over themselves to congratulate the singer, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying her "rousing performance" had "dazzled Germany and sang you into the heart of Europe."
"Whether you wanted to be or not, you are an ambassador for our country who, in one night, charmingly disproved a few old stereotypes," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
Germany, and the 55-year-old Merkel in particular, could do with some good news after a torrid few months that have seen her popularity ratings plummet after winning a second term in September.
Abroad Merkel has been accused of dragging her feet over the eurozone debt crisis, while domestically an increasingly eurosceptic public is angry about their hard-earned euros bailing out what they see as profligate countries.
Germany's public finances are in tatters after the country's worst recession since World War II, and Merkel's governing coalition has to make some unpopular decisions about where to make savings. Taxes may rise.
The country, suffering a dreary and wet spring, is also pessimistic when it comes to Germany's chances in the football World Cup in South Africa in June, with captain Michael Ballack one of a string of players injured.
Germany, which has won the World Cup one more time than it has won the Eurovision Song Contest, is normally one of the favourites.
"Lads, now you have to do a Lena," Bild suggested.