Sunday 4 December 2016

As Germany feels the strain, Ireland must learn to think without aid from Brussels

Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30

German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Germany is not only facing a refugee crisis, but is also experiencing strain in its relationship with Europe – a strain that will have significant implications for Ireland in the years ahead. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Germany is not only facing a refugee crisis, but is also experiencing strain in its relationship with Europe – a strain that will have significant implications for Ireland in the years ahead. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

It's impossible to come to Berlin and not be filled with an enormous sense of history. Everywhere there are echoes and reminders of fascism, not least because the Germans have, admirably, come to terms with their own past and made their repentance extremely public and thorough. Public museums, all free, document assiduously the rise of Hitler, the terror of the 1930s followed by the total war of 1939-1944, culminating in Berlin's Götterdämmerung in 1945.

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United Germany is now the powerhouse of Europe, the one true European leader. Yet despite the wealth and the prowess, when talking to Germans you get a pervading sense of crisis here.

The refugee crisis is placing great strain on German politics because the notion that Germany will receive every migrant who wants to travel from the Middle East is beginning to scare the average German. Taxi drivers here, mainly from Turkey, claim that right now it's not a problem, but it may well become one if the numbers continue to rise.

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