When Francois Hollande, the newly elected president of France, arrives today in Berlin for his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it will kindle memories of the long history of Franco-German partnership in leading the European Union. In France, it may even trigger the traditional condescension Parisian politicians feel towards their neighbors: the lumbering German economic giant that relies on French diplomatic, military, and nuclear savoir faire to achieve political clout. Increasingly, however, such sentiments are mere nostalgia.
Berlin, Germany—Germany is at the center of the European financial crisis that is threatening to sink Europe, and much of the rest of the world, into a double-dip recession, but you would hardly know it in Berlin.
Just weeks ago, Germany formally relinquished its title as the world’s top exporter to China. For 2009, China reported that its exports totaled $1.2 trillion as compared to Germany’s $1.1 trillion. The U.S. lost this title in 2003, when Germany surpassed our exports. What a difference a decade makes. Even on the heels of their success, Germany has been cringing at the prospect of China surpassing them in total dollars generated by annual exports.
Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration By Norbert Frei Translated by Joel Golb (Columbia University Press, 365 pp., $35)In this grim account of the formative years of West German democracy, the German historian Norbert Frei examines legislation affecting the amnesty and the integration of Germans suspected of, accused of, and in many cases indicted for crimes committed during the Nazi era.