The Iraqi war and its aftermath are helping to forge a new kind of patriotism in faraway Germany. Having already undergone a transformation from dictatorship to democracy under US stewardship after the second world war, Germany is now being freed from the burdens of the past by the US campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. As strange as it may sound, US President George W. Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq has made it okay to be German again. Long averse to displays of patriotism due to the excesses and crimes of the Nazis, flag-waving outside sporting events - either real or figuratively - has been largely taboo for the nation of 82 million people. But now many young Germans have found new pride in the country's prominent role along with France and Russia in opposing the war in Iraq. 'I thought 'wow', Germany stands for peace. It wasn't always that way, you know,' said a 23-year-old singer from Berlin known as Mietze. Inspired by recent events, she has written a love song - to her country. Only a few years ago, such a move could have quickly ended the career of a promising musician in Germany. But instead of rejecting the Fatherland, as left-leaning German youths have done for decades, a brave group of pioneers has begun to embrace a new concept of patriotism rooted in pacifism, tolerance and human rights. And as the idea of a liberal and modern Fatherland spreads, so too are the colours of the German flag - black, red and gold - beginning to show up in different aspects of society. The movement, if it can be called that, has proven to be a boon for Cologne-based fashion designer Eva Gronbach, who, for the past couple of years, has created collections integrating black, red and gold along with other national symbols, such as the German eagle. Far from just tapping into a trend, Ms Gronbach's inspiration for the designs came from her own reconciliation with her country. After leaving Germany to study and work in London and Paris, she eventually came to see that her own vision of her country was as outdated as that of many foreigners. The traditionally conservative images of the country did not represent modern Germany's open and tolerant multicultural society, while staid Teutonic stereotypes had nothing in common with its hip electronic music scene. 'People may now accuse me of just having a clever marketing strategy, but it's a very personal and very honest thing for me,' Ms Gronbach said. Turning down a Paris job with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, she returned home to create a collection entitled 'A Declaration of Love to Germany', with nationally coloured items for both sexes. 'I used to find the colours ugly,' Ms Gronbach said. 'But I thought maybe I could consciously change what they mean to me personally.' But breaking the taboo was not easy. She described how terrified she was when she first wore her designs on the street a few years ago. Now, with more and more of her generation rethinking what it means to be German, her designs are appearing not only on stylish people on the street but also on the covers of glossy magazines. Apparently sensing the nation's changing attitudes, one new lifestyle publication has even gone as far as to call itself Deutsch. 'If you consider the word 'Deutsch', then it doesn't have to stand for all of the tired prejudices that we know. Nowadays, it's also a synonym for cosmopolitanism, pluralism and creativity, and that's what Germany stands for overseas too,' the magazine's editor, Tim Brandt, said on German television. Most Germans believe the country has a special responsibility to work for peace and tolerance because of the Holocaust. But it would now appear that some of the new patriots are choosing to celebrate that responsibility instead of seeing it as a necessary burden like past generations.