Friday, May 28, 2010

The New Old German Problem.

I’ve been walking the last two days through Munich. Much of the city core was bombed out by the allies by spring 1945. Yet today there is little evidence of such destruction. The museums are among the best in the world, the streets and parks spotless, the infrastructure superb, and the people as hard at work as ever. To walk an urban street in Germany is a different experience from say in Athens or Istanbul — traffic follows law, pedestrians are respected, horns are used rarely, trash is absent. In other words, things work and work well.

Such observations sound stereotypical these days, but to even the casual observer the difference between life in Germany and much of the eastern and southern Mediterranean seems far greater than the divide between a Minnesota and Mississippi. For someone who has lived in Greece and occasionally visits Germany, it becomes increasingly clearer each year why the European Union won’t work. Germans work and create wealth. Yet under the present system, they do not receive commensurate psychological rewards — and they increasingly receive insufficient material compensation as well.

And history shows us that an unhappy Germany is a very dangerous thing indeed.



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