An article by: Francesco Sidoti

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whom Ukraine's former ambassador to Germany called a vile snail, walks slowly, uncertainly, fearfully. Just like the entire German society, which was a symbol of everything that was good in Europe, and now has become a symbol of everything that is going wrong, and could be worse...

Sahra Wagenknecht

Germany is at the center of Europe. Even with regard to Ukraine, the cornerstone of Europe is Germany, but Israel has recently diverted attention away from support that was already flabby and, in some ways, ambiguous. Formally, Zelensky was treated very well, with Deutsche Welle proclaiming him “virtually a saint.” But in the backcountry, opinions are more mixed. The attack on the Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022 is a symbol of this difference, because it is no secret that the instigators and perpetrators are known to everyone. This attack was a true act of terrorism and war against Germany. It is discussed little, timidly, in a low voice, but it resonates in the minds of the Germans. As in Mafia folklore of the past, the same organization guarantees you protection and, to demonstrate that you need its protection, burns your car parked next to your home. You shouldn’t complain about your benefactors. A stone in the mouth of a person who talks a lot. One word is too few, and two words are too many.

Kiev’s former ambassador to Berlin mocked Chancellor Olaf Scholz, elegantly calling him a vile snail. The truth is, the entire German society is moving in a slow, uncertain, and frightened step that was a symbol of everything that was going well in Europe, but instead has now become a symbol of everything that is going wrong, and could be even worse. The economic problems are well known, the farmers’ uprise is very well known, but many other news do not bode well for the once notorious German stability.

In a frightened community, the call of the wilderness forces to get armed to the teeth. It is said that 100 billion dollars will be invested in this sector. However, this new Germany does not seem willing to play such a militaristic role, driven by the fear of seeing Russian tanks in Berlin again, as Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has long feared. Another fear: will the Russians be the right people to blow off steam and finally scream to someone?

The bellicose start was not the best, judging from the controversy over the armed forces’ newest assault rifle, accused in a confidential report by the Federal Accounts Office of somewhat haphazard shooting, “shooting crooked,” envious chroniclers say, and detractors add that this imperfect blunderbuss is to replace another one, currently in service, inglorious for “aiming west and shooting east” when it overheats. The whole sector leaves a lot to be desired: the Bundeswehr’s Federal Armaments Directorate has been described as an elephantine body known for its inefficiency, waste, and corruption. “A port of fog where tanks, submarines, and airplanes are lost like a pile of money,” add the aforementioned enviers and detractors.

At various levels, what happens internationally is repeated nationally: the fluttering of a butterfly among the Houthis can cause a storm on the Red Sea. Deutsche Bahn (German Railways, translator’s note) is a giant with about 240,000 employees and is used to dealing with a union like Eisenbahn und Verkehrsgewerkschaft (Union of Railways and Transport, translator’s note), which has 180,000 members, but is brought to its knees by a strike by a small train drivers’ union with 4,000 members. Six days of strike, a paralyzed country, and a general nervous breakdown.

This is not the first time Germans have questioned their own Unfähigkeit – inability and incompetence. First of all, safety has long been a concern. Suffice to recall the controversy surrounding the book by R. Wendt, “Deutschland in Gefahr: Wie ein schwacher Staat unsere Sicherheit aufs Spiel setzt” (Germany in Danger: How a Weak State Jeopardizes Our Security, translator’s note). Immigration is the most subtle fear: it spills over into tidy yards, clean streets, spotless alleys, lighted houses, hard-working factories. Girls should be careful at New Year’s parties.

The insidious interpreter of the burning anxiety is the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which talks like neo-Nazis (or like an English Prime Minister?), when it talks too much about remigration, mass deportation of immigrants, which is really scary. But for the masses, the waves of Democratic squares make the AfD waves even more frightening. They scare even Marine Le Pen and the Rassemblement Nationale, who have distanced themselves. Giorgia Meloni also clarified that there are “irreconcilable differences,” or unüberbrückbare Differenzen, between the Italian Brothers and the AfD, as sensible Germans were quick to translate, albeit with some apprehension, to avoid being lumped in with Meloni and Le Pen. However, in some areas it will be hard not to come to terms with the AfD, whose share in the polls is about 22% on average nationally, but in the East, it is the leading party, well over 30%, including states like Saxony, Brandenburg, and Thuringia, where Germans will vote in autumn (another nightmare for the government).

The threat is coming not only from the right. BSW (Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht, Sahra Wagenknecht’s Union, translator’s note) of Sahra Wagenknecht wants to restrict immigration “to protect the working class”! These days it is holding its first party conference in Berlin; it hasn’t been born yet, and polls put its electoral consensus at between 7 and 14%.

In conclusion, many emphasize Germany’s difficulties, but more troubling than economic hardship are the fears of a giant cornered by its defenders. The peaceful and tranquil Germany of recent decades has been oriented Eastward, toward Russia and China, with large-scale investments. Merkel and Schroeder’s Germany has invested heavily in market expansion based on good relations with the Russians and Chinese – see participation in the Belt and Road Initiative and symbols such as Nord Stream and the port of Hamburg, where the Chinese live. After February 2022, Germany had to redefine its production model based on cheap energy from Russia, a model that enjoyed stability, prosperity, and consensus thanks to a generous welfare state. Today, however, this welfare state is saving, shrinking, and becoming less generous. You can gradually get used to the worst, but what if there was a seismic shock?

The electorate can be unpredictable. Hitler had 2.6 percent of the vote in 1928 and 43.9% in 1933. History never repeats itself in the same way: it reveals things that the wizard’s apprentices can’t even imagine. In Germany, the constitutional need to protect the freiheitlich-demokratische Grundordnung, the liberal-democratic order, is basic. In Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache knows a thing or two about it. Teutonic democracy is by definition a wehrhafte and streitbare Demokratie (defensive and combative democracy, translator’s note), a democracy protected and ready to defend itself. It will also defend itself against voters with the selfless help of its high-profile benefactors.


Francesco Sidoti