Tim Brinton

Weimar Europe?

Germany’s critics nowadays make two points: the real European problem is the German current-account surplus, and Germans are perversely obsessed with their past. But Germans are right to notice the parallels between conditions in Europe today and those in the interwar period.

BERLIN – Germany’s position in Europe looks increasingly peculiar and vulnerable. In the chaos of German unification in 1990, when Germany’s neighbors were terrified of the new giant, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised a European Germany, not a German Europe. Today, however, the terms of any European rescue effort are obviously set by Germany.

There is widespread recognition that Europe needs substantial economic growth if it is to emerge from its debt woes. But German concerns about stability – founded on its catastrophic interwar experience – push in the opposite direction. As a consequence, Germany-bashing is now in fashion.

Germany’s critics make two points: the real European problem is the German current-account surplus, and Germans are perversely obsessed with their past.

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