Today 80 year ago, German troops attacked Poland, starting World War II, the most horrific slaughter and genocide in European history (I will not be drawn into comparisons with Stalin – “we dealt” with this comparison in the
late 1980s during the German “Historikerstreit”). Growing up as German in Germany, I was confronted early on with this horrific legacy. We had furious debates in high school whether Germany
lost the war or was liberated from the Nazis by the Allies. I have never had any doubt that it was the latter and that we should be grateful for having lost the war (watching “The Man in the High Castle” these days, it is hard for me understand
why anyone in my generation can think otherwise). In later years, I started confronting my personal history, finding out that both my grandfathers had been members of the Nazi party, even though not involved in any of the atrocities of the holocaust
or war. There have been vigorous discussions whether Germany is “allowed" to move on from its history, whether it can change the conversation, given the historic distance. And from abroad I could clearly see that German society has taken on a new
attitude towards the flag and national anthem. Healthy or risky? In spite of the rise of the AfD, I am generally optimistic. One cannot be careful enough about early dangerous trends, but given how German society has dealt with the recent migration wave,
there is not just reason for optimism but even pride! There is a striking difference to what we can see in the US and the UK and what we can see in Germany; an unfortunate reversal of roles.