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Why the Germans Do it Better Notes from a Grown-Up Country (2020)

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6 reasons why the Germans do it better...

History

Which other country would build a monument to its own shame next to its two most famous landmarks? (The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe sits close to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.) The Germans dealt with their past decisively: The school curriculum is thorough to a fault. Holocaust denial is illegal (unlike the UK). Germany now has the fastest-growing Jewish population in Western Europe. For all the looming issues of the far-right, Germany is better equipped than its neighbours to handle it.

Immigration

‘Wir schaffen es,’ declared Angela Merkel at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015. 'We can handle it.' Germany welcomed nearly one million of the world’s destitute, many from Syria. The numbers were far in excess of anything anyone else was doing. It was an extraordinary act of national generosity, but it came at a political cost, putting Germany on the frontline of Europe-wide angry nationalism. Merkel took a risk that others wouldn’t dare, and the decision precipitated her political decline.

Climate Change

For decades, Germans have been exercised by the future of the planet, and have been more concerned about climate change than the Brits (with one caveat, their obsession with cars). Whether it is the proportion of electricity produced from renewables, or the decision to phase out nuclear energy, the data shows that the Germans are ahead of the pack in trying to tackle the looming environmental catastrophe. The Green party also plays a far more important role than in any other equivalent nation.

Foreign Policy

Germany’s ambivalence about the 'East vs West' style of geopolitics has ancient roots. It is psychologically as much Central as Western European. Since unification, it has gradually grown into a role that its size and strength demand. Its leading position within the European Union has been the foundation. The Deutsche Mark was the catalyst for post-war stability and self-respect. To give it up for the sake of European unity was nothing short of remarkable. To quote Kissinger: ‘If I want to talk to Europe, who do I call?’ The answer for thirty years has been Germany.

Culture

Germans feel comfortable talking about culture. Like the French, they are at ease with public intellectuals. Review sections of newspapers have not dumbed down. (Television, however, is another story: the Saturday night offering is even more tacky than closer to home). Public funding of art is strong and consistent. The most striking cultural difference is the approach to language. Whereas Britain is mired in mono-lingual mediocrity, most Germans are taught two foreign languages at school.

The Coronavirus

When the pandemic hit, Germany was much better prepared, with more testing equipment and more ventilators. They have more hospital beds per patient than most equivalent countries. In Germany the ratio was 8.2 per 1,000 people, with the UK a lamentable 2.7, thanks to chronic under-funding and short-term planning. Germany had a total of 28,000 intensive care unit beds, against Britain’s 4,100. As for staff, the difference was similarly stark. For every 1,000 people, Germany has 4.1 doctors, compared to the UK’s 2.8. Behind these statistics lie stories of care delivered well in Germany and not so well elsewhere.

Comments

Germany WAS better prepared, yes. It hasn't been since they were entirely castrated and the Soviet Union obliterated their actual history and planted false evidence. Remember, MADE IN RUSSIA by Carlos Porter is a very enlightening book about the details that are always missed in the Nuremberg trials.