German pride did not die after the country’s defeat in World War II. Instead, like Sleeping Beauty in the Brothers Grimm version of the folk tale, it only fell into a deep slumber. The country has now awakened, ready to celebrate its economic ingenuity, its cultural treasures and the unsullied stretches of its history.
As Germany embarks on this journey of self-discovery, the question is whether it will leave behind a European project which was built in no small measure on the nation’s postwar guilt and on its pocketbook.
“Maybe it’s our time again,” said Catherine Mendle, 25, a school social worker strolling the grounds and halls of the square glass and concrete Chancellery building on a recent afternoon as part of a government open house. A military band played in the background, and Mrs. Merkel signed autographs for curious visitors.
“We have this extreme helper syndrome, to try to make the world love us again, and it’s completely overdone,” Ms. Mendle said. Germany, she said, had been reduced to simple stereotypes ”” Oktoberfest, auto factories, the Holocaust. Its rich traditions in music and literature, and its enduring emphasis on social welfare and a strong commitment to the environment, deserve more respect abroad and at home, Ms. Mendle said.
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