BONN, JULY 8 -- "We are somebody again!" Alexander Staudt shouted. Waving an enormous German flag, he leaped through the street outside the Apfel bar here, urging a crowd of 300 to join his victory march.
Seconds after the West German national soccer team beat Argentina, 1-0, to win the World Cup tournament tonight, the streets of German cities and villages alike filled with cheering fans.
They unfurled red, yellow and black German banners. They ran about with flags festooned with the Iron Cross, the militarist symbol of German nationalism. They drove downtown, horns tooting, shouting "Germany, Germany!"
More than 25,000 fans packed West Berlin's main boulevard, the Kurfuerstendamm. Thousands of shouting patriots ran through Munich's streets, shutting down streets and chanting "Germany, Germany!"
"What a celebration!" said the announcer on West Germany's ARD television network. "I think that for many people, this Sunday will have more than 24 hours."
Thousands of East Germans watched the game on a huge outdoor screen in East Berlin, and others on their televisions at home. Dozens carried German flags with them, parading down the fabled Unter den Linden avenue.
Columns of cars paraded through Frankfurt's downtown. Fans threw their arms around strangers and kissed them. Several women doffed their shirts to the great glee of crowds and TV cameramen.
The celebrations were often drunken and violent in parts of Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne, where several scuffles with police were reported, and one frenzied fan jumped out of a streetcar window and was killed when struck by a car. In Beirut, a major foreign center of support for the German football squad, Lebanese took to the streets with machine guns and pistols, waving German flags while they filled the skies with red tracer bullets.
Late tonight, police reported several arrests in Hamburg, where skinheads and neo-Nazis clashed with officers in riot gear, an almost nightly ritual that seemed to be exacerbated, but not prompted, by the soccer match.
During the game, German streets were as empty as they might be at 3 in the morning. Flags appeared in apartment windows; German banners streamed out of sun roofs and convertibles.
On West German television earlier in the day, somber writers and political commentators wondered whether the outpouring of emotion for the soccer players was a healthy release or a forboding display of resurgent nationalism.
"What is this 'we' everyone speaks of?" asked commentator Dieter Thoma. Five times in the course of a 40-minute discussion, Thoma and others compared soccer madness to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels's theories of mass manipulation.
Nonsense, said Christian von Krockow, a West German public relations executive. "After the catastrophe of the Third Reich, for the first time in the postwar period, we are again somebody," he said.
But von Krockow warned his countrymen that their sports victory -- like the political unification of the two Germanys -- would not be nearly as welcome abroad as it may be at home.
"People will say 'These Germans, unifying, Boris Becker, the World Cup -- oh, oh."
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl postponed his trip to the economic summit in Houston to be at the soccer game. Not to be outdone in sympathy to the national team, Kohl's top challenger in the December elections, Oskar Lafontaine, was also there, as were President Richard von Weizsaecker and numerous East German leaders.
Newspapers in both Germanys knew no bounds in their enthusiasm for the national team, which last won the Cup in 1974. "Don't cry, Argentina," shouted Bild, the country's largest paper. Broadcasters unabashedly rooted for the home team, barely bothering to describe the action when the Argentinians controlled the ball.
In Munich, crowds at bars in the Schwabing section of the city watched with growing frustration as the scoreless match wore on. But after Andy Brehme scored the penalty goal, fans poured onto Leopoldstrasse waving flags, setting off fireworks and jumping on top of cars.
"The businessmen and politicians are thinking about unity," said Andreas Elsner, "but the rest of us care about football."
Special correspondent Steve Vogel in Munich contributed to this report.