Germany finally feels loved with Eurovision win

Sun May 30, 2010 1:40pm EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany celebrated its first win in the Eurovision Song Contest in nearly three decades Sunday with fireworks, street parties and a frenzied revelry normally reserved for World Cup soccer victories.

A teen-ager named Lena ended Germany's long losing streak in the popular European-wide song competition with an improbable triumph over 24 other finalists in a live program from Oslo watched by more than 100 million people across Europe.

A crowd of 45,000 people welcomed Lena at a homecoming celebration in her home town of Hanover Sunday evening while Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political leaders praised the straight-talking 19-year-old for her honesty and warmth.

"Europe does like us!" wrote Bild am Sonntag, the country's best-selling Sunday newspaper on page one after Lena clinched victory in the pan-European voting just after midnight.

Fireworks lit up the sky in Berlin, in Hamburg where 70,000 people watched the contest on giant TV screens in a central square, and in Hanover, where 20,000 had celebrated Germany's first win since 1982 at an open air party.

Hanover also hosted a nationally televised homecoming rally Sunday afternoon for Lena, a high school student whose full name is Lena Meyer-Landrut. The song contest might be dismissed as tacky in some countries but it is serious stuff in Germany.

"I was so incredibly nervous," Lena told the Hanover crowd.

Germany had complained bitterly in the past when even top acts such as "No Angels" it sent to compete often ended up near the bottom. Since taking 24th place in 2005, Germans were 15th in 2006, 19th in 2007, 23rd in 2008 and 20th in 2009.   Continued...

<p>Lena Mayer-Landrut from Germany celebrates after winning the Eurovision Song Contest final in Oslo May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Kyrre Lien/Scanpix Norway</p>