German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to fling open the doors of Germany to more than a million migrants from the developing world baffled many. Although only a minority of these migrants were refugees fleeing persecution, with most of them seeking instead the chance of economic opportunities in Europe, it is widely believed that Mrs Merkel saw the presence of at least a proportion of Syrian refugees amongst their number as an opportunity finally to shake off the spectre of her country’s belligerent past and recast its reputation as a nation governed instead by conscience and compassion.
What she triggered, however, was political and social crisis. The migrants brought with them a disproportionate amount of violence, mainly sexual and directed at German women and girls. The political crisis was perhaps not so much in Germany, where she is ahead in pre-election opinion polling, but more widely in Europe where the combination of the Merkel gesture, the knowledge that many more millions were trying to get to Europe and the EU’s own free movement rule raised the spectre of an unmanageable flood of migrants causing social chaos and destroying European identity itself.
As Robert Curry points out sharply in this article: “In World War II, Germany’s conquest of Europe and subsequent defeat left the continent in ruins. This time, however, Germany’s actions seem designed to bring about Europe’s destruction by inviting conquest rather than by initiating it”.
Curry makes the equally sharp point that, far from being on the same historic page as Britain, France and America in the creation of modern western civilisation, Germany stood against it long before the horrors of Nazism. While Britain, France and America produced the Enlightenment, Germany produced the counter-Enlightenment.
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