That dream of Europe without borders is now Merkel's nightmare
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepared breakfast for her husband Joachim on Thursday morning - as is her wont, according to the little we know about her private life - the world's most powerful woman was surely in reflective and pensive mood.
The furore over the German sex assaults cut to the very heart of one of her most deeply cherished political beliefs that made her the driving force behind Germany's decision to accept 1.1 million refugees last year. All the signs are that this tide of fleeing and despairing humanity will swell even more in 2016; so will the Chancellor hold her nerve, and continue to offer sanctuary to even more of those seeking safety in her homeland?
In the past few days, the full enormity of the assaults which had taken place on New Year's Eve in some of Germany's major cities, had also become clear to Merkel and her inner circle. Bizarrely, what was described as "a mass coordinated attack of sexual intimidation'' in Cologne, carried out by a gang made up of hundreds of males allegedly of Arab or north African appearance, had initially gone largely unreported.