It is – to put it mildly – a poor reflection on Britain that the chief response to the Prime Minister's visit to Berlin yesterday was not to welcome an effort by Europe's biggest and richest countries to address the eurozone crisis, but to rehearse the same old hostile stereotypes of Germany. We were overrun with references to jackboots, Nazis, Achtung, another Anschluss, a new conquest of Europe, and so on and on.
More than 60 years have passed since the end of the Second World War. Britain and Germany have been close allies for most of that time. It is not Germany's fault that our school history syllabuses remain dominated by a single destructive chapter of Germany's 20th-century history, or that a popular TV show drew its laughs from lampooning Germans, or that many Britons – perhaps for want of more recent glories – still look back wistfully to what they regard as this country's "finest hour".
Germany's size and economic success make it key to any resolution of the euro crisis – a reality that Ms Merkel has faced, despite mounting opposition at home, with a due sense of responsibility. Also, to her credit, without stooping to revive old enmities. It is a pity we are not grown-up enough to do the same.Reuse content