Ah, the Germans Again

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Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn’t happen again.
We taught them a lesson in 1918
And they’ve hardly bothered us since then.

Tom Lehrer, The MLF Lullaby




My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, reminds us that our good friends the Germans, our adversaries in two world wars, have been acting rather bizarrely of late:


Every 20 to 50 years in Germany, things start unraveling. Germans feel aggrieved. Ideas and movements gyrate wildly between far left and far right extremes. And the Germans finally find consensus in a sense of victimhood paradoxically expressed as national chauvinism. Germany’s neighbors in 1870, 1914, 1939—and increasingly in the present—usually bear the brunt of this national meltdown.

Germany is supposed to be the economic powerhouse of Europe, its financial leader, and its trusted and responsible political center. Often it plays those roles superbly. But recently, it’s been cracking up—in a way that is hauntingly familiar to its European neighbors. On mass immigration, it is beginning to terrify the nearby nations of Eastern Europe. On Brexit, it bullies the British. On finance, it alienates the southern Europeans. On Russia, it irks the Baltic States and makes the Scandinavians uneasy by doing business with the Russian energy interests. And on all matters American, it increasingly seems incensed.

Certainly, Germany has done some unbelievably strange things in the last ten years. In a fit of fear, after the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011, and in a huff about climate change, Berlin more or less abruptly junked traditionally generated electrical power and opted for inefficient and unreliable “green” renewable wind and solar—despite the less than Mediterranean nature of its climate and warnings of the financial downside. The result is that electricity costs have climbed 50 percent in recent years and are among the most expensive in the developed world—and electricity itself is sometimes scarce. In response to shortfalls in power generation, the German energy industry for now is looking at solutions like coal-fired plants, buying nuclear-generated electricity from its neighbors, and cutting deals with Vladimir Putin for natural gas. In other words, Germany spiraled from the one extreme of green idealists to the other of dirty coal, while counting on others to export their electricity into Germany.

Immigration is similar. A bipolar Germany cannot just take in a limited and manageable number of genuine refugees, hope to assimilate them—and then keep quiet about its resulting sense of noblesse oblige. Instead, in a little over a year, Berlin enthusiastically opened its borders and accepted over a million migrants who were mostly unvetted and from the Middle East and North Africa, defending this radical policy with virtue sloganeering about German magnanimity (“we can do this”). Until recently, a mostly homogenous Germany had little experience with diversity, much less with assimilating and integrating mostly impoverished, male, Muslim immigrants. The result of these massive influxes from the Middle East has often been chaos. In an Orwellian sort of good-deed imperialism, Germany hectors its worried, smaller, and far more vulnerable European neighbors to embrace the nearly suicidal German model of open European borders.

Germany has always had a “Jewish Problem.” In the late nineteenth-century, German academics became obsessed with pseudo-research about eugenics and racial purity—which often led to talk of both Aryan purity and crass anti-Semitism that played out in the real world with disastrous results during the Holocaust. After World War II, Germany tried to make amends through introspection, some reparations, and the subsidized sales of military supplies to Israel. Yet Germany seems to once again be embracing anti-Semitism quite aside from its fierce opposition to Israel. Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has warned of the present climate: “These are the worst times since the Nazi era. On the streets, you hear things like ‘the Jews should be gassed,’ ‘the Jews should be burned.’ We haven’t had that in Germany for decades. Anyone saying those slogans isn’t criticizing Israeli politics, it’s just pure hatred against Jews: nothing else.”

In response to the growing hatred, Felix Klein, Germany’s newly appointed special envoy entrusted by the Merkel government with addressing the nation’s growing anti-Semitism—much of it the result of the influx of Muslims—recently shrugged it off, simply pointing out that more and more Jews are leaving Germany: “It is quite understandable that those who are scared for the safety of their children would consider leaving.”


Go here to read the rest.  Ever since Germany obtained unity courtesy of the brilliance of Bismarck and the stupidity of Napoleon III, the world has had good reason to pay close attention to Germany.  The Cold War caused Germany to play only a very limited role in world affairs, and Europe, under American auspices, knew peace and prosperity unprecedented in the history of that Continent.  Since Germany gained reunification, courtesy of American strength and Soviet dissolution, Germany has determined its own path and helped lead Europe down a dead end of economic fragility, mass Islamic immigration and military impotence.  It is always difficult to predict the future, but one can safely say that Europe is heading for a great change because its current course is unsustainable, and the Germans, almost certainly for the worse, are shaping that great change.


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  1. “Germany also enjoys the world’s largest account surplus at $287 billion—warping international trade as the country discourages imports and calibrates its economy mostly for export.”

    Hardly surprising, given Germany’s aging population. As a population ages (the median age in Germany is 46 years female and 48.2 years male) it will spend less and save more for retirement and demand will shift from present goods to future goods, that is, securities. The price level of present goods falls. The price of future goods rises, that is, the compensation for waiting for the future declines, and the rate of interest falls. The aging population trades surplus present goods for future goods, that is, exports goods and purchases securities with the proceeds, shifting the current account balance to surplus

  2. I saw that at Instapundit.


    It won’t be blitzkrieg. This time it will be economic and political bullying.

  3. Germany is to blame for its own pathologies and for efforts in Brussels to bully more sensible countries like Hungary. The real problem in Europe is elites everywhere and the publics who tolerate them. There is resistance in Britain, in Finland, in Sweden, in Flanders, in France, but not nearly enough.

  4. Of course the Germans stole this song from the Austrians, who inherited it from the last Holy Roman Emperor, to whom it was a gift from “Papa” Haydn about 1798.

  5. Tom Byrne wrote, “Of course the Germans stole this song from the Austrians.”

    Indeed, the original begins

    Gott erhalte Franz, den Kaiser,
    Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!

  6. This time there is a difference. Germany does not have massive reserves of young men to call up, enlist in its armed forces and attack its neighbors. The US Army and Air Force is still in Germany.

  7. West Germany saved for the costs of unification with East Germany. They have bailed out Greece several times. It appears that some of the countries are jealous of Germany’s wealth. Merkel’s leadership has been disastrous as far as immigration. Luckily Poland and Hungary are not caving in to EU and Vatican pressure to open borders. They can seen the “fruits” of it in France, Belgium Netherlands and Scandinavia.
    When I was in southern Germany I was told that they identify as Franks, then Bavarians and lastly Germans. The hardworking, educated people I spoke with resented their government subsidizing aging immigrants who came to Germany to retire without ever having contributed, but not so the East Germans who had lost everything under Communism. They were wary of young male unemployed East Africans housed in dormitories in Munich. The churches were full on. Sundays. Abortion was frowned upon. This was 2007.

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