What Is Germany's Destiny?

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What Is Germany's Destiny?

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In late May Europe's Champions League football (soccer to Americans) final was decided at London's Wembley Stadium. What was unusual about it was the fact that two German teams were the finalists. All other European countries' teams had been eliminated.

The British newsmagazine The Economist reported: "The symbolism was powerful. For the first time in its 58-year history, the final of Europe's most important football contest was a wholly German affair. From the football pitch to politics to the economy, Germany has become Europe's most powerful country" ("Europe's Reluctant Hegemon," June 15, 2013, emphasis added throughout).

The Financial Times, in an article titled "Germany Shows How to Score on and off the Football Pitch," attributed Berlin's success to well-thought-out strategic tactics, showing that winning emerges from long-term planning whether in sports or finances (May 25-26, 2013). This piece also clearly demonstrated that the United Kingdom (fourth globally in GDP) suffers when compared with Germany in almost all economic statistical categories.

Since Germany remains the geographic, strategic and economic center of Europe, should the world be anxious about where Berlin may be headed in the future?

German dominance still a big concern

Professor Brendan Simms, author of the recently published book Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, From 1453 to the Present, also wrote an article in the British New Statesman. His magazine piece begins:

"A spectre is once again haunting Europe—the spectre of German power. The past five years have coincided with a remarkable increase in the influence of Germany, which has so far weathered the world economic crisis well" ("Cracked Heart of the Old World," March 15-21, 2013).

More recently, the Financial Times stated that "Berlin's primacy is a reality that cannot be wished away. The challenge is how to make it beneficial for everyone" (Mark Mazower, "German Fear of History Jeopardises Europe's Future," July 19, 2013).

The New Statesman issue itself bore this headline on the cover: "The German Problem: From Bismarck to Merkel, Why Europe Will Always Fear Berlin." Below it were photos of previous powerful German leaders Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler and Helmut Kohl, plus current German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

British newspaper headlines reveal concern and even anxiety about Berlin's intentions. The following headlines are not the work of trashy tabloids, but are from serious newspapers—the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the Daily Mail. They underscore Professor Simms' concerns:

• "Germany Too Powerful for Europe"

• "The Crisis and Making of a German Europe"

• "Germany Calls the Shots"

• "Merkel's Jibe at [French President] Hollande Opens Franco-German Split"

• "Could Germany Spark Another War?"

• "The Week the Fourth Reich Began"

These headlines reflect a trend that began to come to the fore with the onset of the economic recession of 2008. They also reflect history.

Simms, professor of international relations history at Cambridge, writes of Germany dominating European geopolitics for more than 600 years and predicts its continuing to do so.

He also writes in his New Statesman article: "Above all, over the past three years, there have been widespread calls for Germany to take the lead in resolving the escalating euro crisis. The foreign minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, spoke for many when he remarked, in a speech in Berlin in 2011: 'I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.'" Chancellor Angela Merkel was judged for what was perceived as her reluctant, half-hearted interventions.

Simms further comments: "To historians, none of this is new. The Germans have always been either too weak or too strong."

Hence Winston Churchill's wry observation during the heat of the world crisis in the 1930s, "The Hun is either at your feet or at your throat." Today a world leader would not use such blatant language even to describe events that may eventually lead to German domination of Europe economically, politically and finally militarily.

Longstanding hostility against Germany

In the 21st century, anti-German sentiment remains strong in some places. One tactic used by Italy's discredited Silvio Berlusconi to launch a political comeback was verbally attacking Berlin. When Chancellor Merkel last visited the city of Athens, Greece, she had to have the protection of thousands of policemen.

These feelings have strong historic roots, particularly when one remembers that two world wars with Germany marred the first half of the 20th century.

I first became acutely aware of hostility to Germany during my early life in South Texas. Surnamed Schroeder, I'm a second-generation German on my father's side. Both of my paternal grandparents were born near Oldenburg, Germany. My mother's roots were English and Scottish.

Prior to my parents' marriage in 1927, she insisted on a prenuptial agreement involving my father never speaking a word of German (his first language) to any future children. He never did. My mother's strong feelings were informed by her parents' response to Germany's role during World War I (1914-1918).

Further, as Simms writes, during the 1930s and 1940s "the German problem was also at the heart of European domestic politics. In France, the question of how society was to be organised against Germany underlay almost every domestic crisis."

Nation stronger following reunification

After World War II ended in 1945, Germany was divided into two nations, with Bonn as the capital of the western Federal Republic. East Berlin remained the eastern capital. In the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in late 1989, Germany was reunified in 1990.

Yet the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher unpopularly spoke out against German reunification before it happened. There is little evidence that she ever changed her mind. Like Churchill before her, Thatcher deeply grasped the enormous genius, power and potential of the German peoples.

Reunification has meant a much stronger Germany, fully capable of leading all of Europe. The enormous increase both in territory and population was bound to have its long-term consequences, not to mention regaining the traditional capital of Berlin in 1999.

The city of Berlin has undergone a substantial program of rebuilding, refurbishment and renewal—including constructing perhaps the newest, finest and largest railway station in the world, several stories high. In recent years the results of reunification have been manifested for all to see.

A historian's warning

A.J.P. Taylor was one of Britain's preeminent historians and an authority on the subject of German unity and reunification. He noted regarding Germany that while "throughout modern times Europe has been composed of independent states . . . One power has tended to predominate or at least to be stronger than others" (Europe: Grandeur and Decline, 1967, p. 7).

Professor Taylor viewed the German nation from the standpoint of a British citizen who had seen his country go to war with Berlin twice within a half century. Those two wars brought 10 years of devastating conflict with much economic deprivation and many lives lost on both sides.

So he concluded: "What is wrong with Germany is there is too much of it. There are too many Germans, and Germany is too strong, too well organised, too well equipped with industrial resources. The greater Germany is a very recent appearance, created overnight by Bismarck and completed only by Hitler" (p. 121).

Taylor further stated, "The German problem, past and present, is the problem of German unity." And he minced no words by saying that "the harsh truth of German history is that the solution of the German question cannot be found within Germany. Partition cannot be maintained as a permanent policy, yet a united Germany will keep Europe in apprehension" (pp. 165-166).

He also made this stark controversial prediction: "A Germany free from foreign control will seek to restore the United Greater Germany which Hitler achieved in 1938; nor will democracy prove an automatic safeguard against a new German aggression" (p. 165).

Of course, today's Germany does not necessarily fully bear out Professor Taylor's statements. It remains a fully functioning democracy at present. Yet the euro crisis clearly brought to light the enormous—and some would even say oppressive—influence that Berlin can bring on less influential southern European countries.

The European Union and Germany's position within it

There is little doubt among many observers that the European Union (EU) and the euro in particular are on trial. German author Ulrich Beck writes in his book German Europe: "Fifty-five years after the signing of the Rome Treaties, which brought the European Economic Community into being, its successor [the EU] is making desperate efforts to prove to the world and to itself that it can withstand the severest test in its history" (2013, p. 10).

The countries of Southern Europe feel exploited. These relatively economically weak EU states have experienced (and are periodically experiencing) angry street protests and bouts of aggressive behavior by disturbed citizens. Immigrants and refugees remain particularly vulnerable.

In this disturbing context, "Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor since November 2005, is now the longest-serving national leader in the European Union. Her country is more dominant in the EU and the euro zone than ever" ("Germany and the Euro: The Merkel Method," The Economist, July 20, 2013).

Becknotes: "Angela Merkel is widely regarded as the uncrowned queen of Europe. If we inquire into the basis of her power we become aware of one characteristic feature of her effectiveness: her tendency not to act at all, to decide the time is not yet ripe, to act at a later date—in short, to procrastinate. In the European crisis Merkel delayed taking decisions from the very outset" (p. 47).

Merkel recognizes that she has to protect her national political power. She has to, as Beck quotes Der Spiegel, "defend German money and German competitiveness in world markets" to survive in office (p. 48).

National electability as German chancellor does not mesh well with Berlin's central role as the European Union's builder and main financier. Yet Merkel "faces a huge and continuing problem: the euro crisis. This is the big test for her political legacy" ("The Merkel Method").

What sticks in the throat of other European countries is Berlin's expectation that they should adopt German methods of economic austerity and other financial strategies in solving their debt and growth problems.

This overall problem was underscored in the Financial Times article mentioned earlier: "Berlin's 21st century conception of hegemony is about forging a set of rules and then insisting that everyone sticks to them" (July 19, 2013).

Germany in prophecy: an unwitting agent of punishment

What are Berlin's real intentions? Again Ulrich Beck observes: "We perceive once again that Germany's rise to the position of the leading power in 'the German Europe' is not the consequence of a secret master plan, cunningly conceived and adroitly executed" (p. 54). He believes that the status in which Berlin finds itself has come about as an unplanned "conspiracy" of circumstances and dovetailing events rather than emerging due to the sinister plotting of a cadre of actual conspirators.

A passage in the Bible tends to confirm this supposition. God's Word presented the ancient Assyrians as a God-ordained punisher of the nation of Israel, ultimately carrying the northern 10 tribes into national captivity in the late 700s B.C. because of their incorrigible wickedness.

There is often duality in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, an earlier prototypical fulfillment followed by a later ultimate fulfillment, showing that on occasion history does indeed repeat itself.

The publishers of The Good News have often pointed out evidence that the descendants of ancient Israel today comprise such countries as the United States, Britain and several specific nations of the British Commonwealth—and that, like their ancestors, these modern nations are repeating their sins and rejection of their Creator. (To learn more, read the free Bible study aid The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)

History, coupled with certain passages in the Hebrew Bible, also tends to indicate that the German peoples are most likely descended from the ancient Assyrians.

With these points in mind, a passage in the book of Isaiah makes a lot of sense in our modern times: "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My [God's] anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him [the nation of Assyria] against an ungodly nation [Israel] . . . Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations" (Isaiah 10:5-6).

An ancient pattern of national judgment

Historically God has used gentile (non-Israelite) countries to punish His people for their sinfulness and rejection of Him. For instance, the Philistines punished Israel several times during the time of the Judges as they drifted from God.

After Israel became a strong nation under King David and his son Solomon, God dealt with King Solomon's idolatry by dividing the nation into two separate kingdoms after his death. Then the wayward 10 tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel suffered punishment from the Assyrians, who invaded and took them into national captivity in foreign lands, where they eventually lost their identity and came to be known to history as "the lost 10 tribes."

The kingdom of Judah, made up mainly of two of the 12 tribes of Israel, failed to heed the lesson of their brother tribes to the north and were invaded and exiled in King Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon more than a century later.

God later restored a portion of Judah to its own land, and the returning Jews rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and a new temple. But in A.D. 70 the armies of the Roman General Titus vanquished Jerusalem and all but ended the stay of the Jewish peoples in the Holy Land for many centuries.

What Bible prophecy shows

Many passages from the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation fit together to show that a new world superpower will emerge centered in Europe. In prophetic language it is called "the Beast." This end-time world power will dominate the globe, as Revelation 13 shows. A group of 10 nations or groups of nations will give their power to a European-based charismatic dictator also called the Beast. The Good News has published this basic prophetic message for years.

One nation will dominate this ominous alliance of countries. Both the Bible and history coupled together with current events and trends show that most likely that nation will be Germany.

Jesus Christ tells us all to watch and pray so that these prophesied events do not take us by surprise: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36).

These end-time events will affect the whole world, as Jesus Christ Himself foretold in His lengthy prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. One of the purposes of The Good News magazine is to warn about this world crisis to come and to give people hope by publishing the good news of a vastly different and better age of peace and prosperity that will follow.

What should you do? Heed the Bible's warnings by making needed changes in your personal life and living as God tells you to. Observing the Ten Commandments would be a good beginning!