Germany's New Mind-Set: Where Will It Lead

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Germany's New Mind-Set

Where Will It Lead

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Many see a changing mind-set among the German people. A growing self-confidence and assertiveness is emerging 65 years after World War II and two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. Where is Germany ultimately headed?

For decades Germans tended to define themselves as a powerhouse of productivity, with prestigious manufactured products like complex high-end technology, cars and audio equipment.

The cliché of German efficiency is a reality of daily life. Germany is the fifth most competitive country in the world, just behind the United States, and the value of its exports is only surpassed by China.

Germany's European partners see the most populous nation in the heart of Europe as its economic backbone, having the world's fourth largest economy.

Germany's reemerging mind-set

Emerging along with this major economic influence is a new, less restrained mind-set. The sensitivity of the collective psyche over painful Nazi-era history is fading as Germany takes on a more assertive role in the international arena.

The New York Times highlights the change: "Twenty years after reunification, Germany has come to terms with itself in a way that the postwar generation proclaimed would never be possible and the post–Berlin Wall generation finds completely natural.

"The shift is evident on the airwaves, where German songs are staging a comeback against the dominance of American pop, and in best sellers about Goethe and Schiller...

"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."

"...The battle over how to navigate the financial crisis helps display Germany's emerging post-cold-war identity as a country less tolerant of foreign demands and lecturing, one with a tenser relationship with European partners... [Germany] has also become less obsessed with its historical crimes and more enthusiastic about its economic model, its culture and its improved standing in the world.

"All in all, the global slowdown and recovery underscored the differences between Germany and its neighbors, and saw Germany taking a newly assertive role in foreign affairs" ("Overview," Sept. 13, 2010, emphasis added throughout).

More assertive foreign policy

Germany is trying to balance European cohesion with the pursuit of its national interest. Some diplomats and politicians voice rising concerns over Germany's growing assertiveness, like its agreeing to a contentious gas pipeline deal with Russia and blocking NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine.

"Chancellor Angela Merkel has led a bloc of countries fending off President Obama's calls for stimulus spending to combat the economic crisis, certain that the world should follow Germany's example of austerity" (ibid.).

In opposition to Britain, France and some other European Union countries, Germany is pushing to impose tough new budgetary rules to prevent a repeat of Greece's debt crisis.

Germany also continues to push for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The country has the largest armed forces in the EU and is the third-largest contributor of troops in Afghanistan. It has also been involved in conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa.

Furthermore, Germany is aggressively expanding trade with those inside and outside the EU, especially with Russia and China. Per capita, Germany is now out-exporting America to China by a factor of 3 to 1.

Growing nationalism

Along with this growing assertive foreign policy is a return of patriotic nationalism. "The question of 'German identity' is still a matter of lengthy and heated debate.

"The football World Cups of 2006 and 2010 have played their part in creating what bestselling author Dirk Schuemer calls 'patriotism lite,' meaning that a light-hearted form of nationalism, including the sort of flag-waving that was taboo for decades, has become at last socially acceptable" ("After the Wende: German Identity 20 Years After Unification," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Sept. 30, 2010).

One of Germany's most influential sociologists and leading philosophers, Jürgen Habermas, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, says in Britain's newspaper The Guardian that Germany has become self-absorbed:

"What has disappeared is the anxiousness of a people, who were also defeated morally and compelled to engage in self-criticism, to find their bearings in the postnational constellation. The solipsistic [belief in self only] mindset of this self-absorbed colossus in the middle of Europe can no longer even guarantee that the unstable status quo in the EU will be preserved" ("Germany's Mindset Has Become Solipsistic," June 11, 2010).

The New York Times' Nicholas Kulish comments in his article "German Identity, Long Dormant, Reasserts Itself":

"In ways large and small Germany is flexing its muscles and reasserting a long-repressed national pride. Dozens of recent interviews across the country, with workers and businessmen, politicians and homemakers, artists and intellectuals, found a country more at ease with itself and its symbols, like its flag and its national anthem—a people still aware of their country's history, but less willing to let it dictate their actions...

"A significant generational shift has taken place as the World War II generation has been dying off. For younger Germans, war in Europe is no longer a palpable memory or a tangible fear...

"'It's not like the 1930s, where the jackboots are going to be stomping into other countries,' said William M. Drozdiak, the president of the American Council on Germany. 'But having moved the capital from Bonn back to Berlin, there has been a profound psychological change, shifting the center of gravity to the east, with Germany thinking more like a Central European power," (Sept. 10, 2010).

Emerging right-wing sentiment

Along with growing nationalism in Germany has been a noticeable move toward the right, as expressed by The New York Times headline "Right-Wing Sentiment, Ready to Burst Its Dam."

The report explains: "The nation's political geography is being reshaped by strong gusts of discontent blowing in from different directions. Public resentments toward Europe were fanned by the German-led bailout of Greece, which Germans saw as paying for the profligacy and irresponsibility of others. At the same time, Germans, particularly younger generations, are feeling less constrained by their history and more comfortable in their national skin than at any time since World War II...

"At the moment, no one here is predicting the rise of a successful right-wing party, but that is because the main ingredient is missing: a charismatic leader to rally the public" (Michael Slackman, Sept. 21, 2010).

This may be the case, but polls show a right-leaning party could garner up to 20 percent of the vote.

Into this growing right-wing environment came the popular and controversial book by the banker Thilo Sarrazin. It is probably the best-selling political book in postwar Europe, with over a million copies sold. The Washington Post called Sarrazin, "The most talked-about man in Germany...whose hot new book and sudden groundswell of popular support have the media dubbing him a folk hero" (Anthony Faiola, "Economist's Views on Muslim Immigration Divide Spark Controversy in Germany," Sept. 9, 2010).

He "has divided the nation by postulating the theory that Germany is being 'dumbed down' by Muslim immigrants and their children... He delves into territory largely taboo here since the Holocaust, suggesting that 'hereditary factors' are at least partly to blame. Turks and Kurdish immigrants, he asserts, are genetically predisposed to lower intelligence than Germans and other ethnic groups, including Jews.

"His statements have shocked many in Germany, not only because of a national sensitivity to anything remotely smacking of genetic superiority claims in the post–World War II era. What has also shocked many is that so many Germans have rallied to his side" (ibid.).

Nearly one in five Germans in a survey said they would vote for a party led by Sarrazin (Deutsche Welle, Sept. 5, 2010).

Far-right neo-Nazism

In addition to the broad right-wing sentiment sweeping the country, Germany's international broadcasting outfit Deutsche Welle sees the growing influence of the far-right neo-Nazi movement—especially in the East, which has "a reputation for neo-Nazism" rooted "in economic hardship," ("The Rise of the Far-Right in the East," Sept. 21, 2010).

The same source points to higher unemployment and lower wages in the East, along with the fact that the former socialist state within the Soviet sphere did little to remove the Nazi influence remaining after the war.

While the largest neo-Nazi party, the National Democratic Party (NPD), has only about 7,000 members and representation in just two of Germany's 16 state parliaments, far-right influence is growing nonetheless.

"As state authority began to re-assert itself in the East, the far-right developed more subtle ways to organize. 'The structures have become smaller,' said [researcher into right-wing extremism at the University of Bielefeld Dierk] Borstel 'They no longer rely on large parties like the NPD, but rather local cells, which are more difficult for the state to break up. They have become anchored in local communities in a way I thought would never happen'" (ibid.).

Deutsch Welle also cited a study completed in 2003 that found that 16 percent of Germans (23 percent in the East and 14 percent in the West) had an "extreme right-wing world-view—that is, they expressed chauvinistic, anti-Semitic, social-Darwinist or xenophobic opinions, and tended to trivialize the Nazi regime" (ibid.).

Germany's role in end-time events

What this all adds up to is a more independent and assertive economic colossus in the heart of Europe, pushing its own national interest with a mind-set less restrained by its scarred past and more influenced by growing nationalism and right-wing sentiments.

Germany's resurgence and Bible prophecy indicate that it will likely play a key role in the final group of 10 nations that form the "beast" (Revelation 17:12).

This beastly system will become a worldwide economic, political and military colossus (Revelation 13:7, 16-17). Its leader, also referred to as the "beast," will rally the masses with eloquence and persuasiveness. Millions will marvel and follow him to the point of worship (verses 4-5).

Leaders of nations do not always understand the factors driving their own intents or motives—or what they're aiming toward. Sadly, God's people of the modern-day descendants of Israel will suffer greatly during the coming crises at the close of this age. Jesus Christ describes this time of worldwide trauma as the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22; Mark 13:19-20).

Time of Jacob's trouble

The prophet Jeremiah also reveals that the peoples of modern Israel will be specifically targeted for correction. His message was sent to the house of Israel more than a century after its people were carried into captivity, showing much of it is intended for the modern descendants of Israel.

It will be a time of national calamities like no other in history: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he [after going through it] shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7).

The modern-day descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, are the people of northwest European heritage, foremost among these being those of the United States and Britain, along with others of British descent in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. (For detailed biblical and historical explanation, see our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)

Tragically, just as ancient Israel rejected God's calling and way of life over 2,700 years ago, so modern Israel is doing the same thing today.

Britain and America and their allies suffered greatly through two world wars against Germany and her allies. But God miraculously intervened to give them victory while they were in the midst of receiving many of His promised blessings (Genesis 12:1-3; 48:1-6).

The time is coming when God will remove His protection and blessing. Many who survive in captivity will turn to God for deliverance. "It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria" (Isaiah 11:11).

As Jesus Christ sets up his millennial Kingdom and restores the people of Israel to their original homeland (verses 1-16), those of other nations, including Germany, will also turn to God. They will be a "blessing," and God will call them the "work of My hands" as they dwell peacefully together with Israel under the government of God (Isaiah 19:24-25). WNP

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