BERLIN (Reuters) - A tongue-in-cheek video clip that urges young Germans to do their patriotic duty in the war against coronavirus by just staying at home and being couch potatoes has become an internet sensation, garnering more than one million clicks by Monday.
The clip, released as Germany battles an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, cheekily contrasts the modest sacrifices required of today's young people - stay home, avoid unnecessary contacts - with those of older Germans who endured real war and hardship.
It features an elderly man, Anton Lehmann, looking back to 2020 when, aged just 22, he had to give up partying, meeting girls and drinking with friends.
"When the invisible danger threatened everything we held dear, we summoned all our courage and did what was expected of us, the only right thing," he says, as stirring music swells in the background. "Nothing."
The music scratches to a halt, and we see his younger self prostrate on the sofa, snacking. "Sat on our arses day and night. The sofa was our battlefront, our patience our weapon."
The clip is one in a series posted online by Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman in an effort to get young people to play their part in curbing the spread of the coronavirus amid fears that it could soon overwhelm the German healthcare system.
In a similar clip, another elderly man, Tobi Schneider, recalls how he spent the winter of 2020 "on deployment" - playing computer games and scoffing canned cold food.
"Suddenly doing nothing was a service to society: being lazy could save lives," he grins. "Winter 2020 was hard. But it was easy to be a hero."
Axel Antoni, a German living in Britain, quickly subtitled the video clips into English and tweeted them to an international audience.
"This is a universal message," he said, alluding to what people need to do worldwide to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany has weathered the pandemic better than many other European countries but has seen a sharp rise in infections in the past month. The total number of cases now stands at over 800,000, with 12,500 deaths.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones)