Opinion: The mystery of Germany′s popularity | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.12.2014
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Opinion: The mystery of Germany's popularity

Germany: a stable democracy of ever-fluctuating moods. That includes sympathy for imperialist Russia and critique for democratic allies. DW's editor-in-chief wonders why Germans are more popular than ever.

The Germans, after numerous historical aberrations, are finally part of the West, noted a well-known historian. It's true. Germany's spirit is Western, even a bit southern, some would say. Germans today love warmth and sunshine.

Politically, however, they are not "southern." They're faltering. Uncertain.

Russia sympathizers

Germans, of course, find Putin's behavior wrong. Mostly. They reject the annexation of Crimea. But not unconditionally. They've joined in sanctions against the Kremlin, but with reservations, with concerns. Russia cannot be allowed to collapse, so it goes, so some doubt the sanctions.

But above all else, Germans have a large sense of sympathy for Putin's neo-imperialistic assertion of his country's interests in Ukraine - an understandable obligation based on the country's history and culture. The majority of Germans - not all of them, of course, are Russia sympathizers.

Alexander Kudascheff

DW Editor-in-Chief Alexander Kudascheff

Germany also has special relations with Israel. Everyone understands that. The murder of six million European Jews makes it compulsory, the thinking goes - no ifs, ands or buts.

However, take a look at the op-eds written by - for lack of a better word -"normal" Germans with regard to the war in Gaza, and it's clear that Germans don't exactly see it that way. Normalcy and normalization are not the key words, as one would perhaps believe. No, the Germans have a special relationship with the Palestinians, and to Hamas as well, who openly advocate the destruction of the Zion entity, or Israel. Such criticism of Israel, they say, must be allowed.

But at least the German government, and a large part of the opposition, continue to hold the country's official course. They know what Germans have to stand for.

Criticizing America

Germans like to complain - about others. And in particular, the US. The Americans are the ones usually at fault - either for doing something wrong or for doing nothing at all. And Germans can't go wrong in criticizing them - it's a mainstream thing to do - from the far-right to the far-left.

Of course, they're not anti-American; Germans are, after all, part of the West. But their moral finger is always wagging at Uncle Sam. When it comes to society, politics and economics, the people of the "Country of Poets and Thinkers" like to think they have nothing to do with the "American Way of Life."

Is the country searching for its own path? In the West? Or rather as a European empire at the continent's center? Falteringly?

The Germans make up a country of tinkerers, inventors, engineers. They love consensus. And today's Germans are mostly left-leaning; conservative attitudes are rare and people who have them are given a hard time. They find social justice more important than freedom. They dream of living in a Green Switzerland - alone on an island, that is. They agree with government calls to do more abroad - as long as it's not dangerous. They love the climate and protecting frogs more than protecting threatened peoples and populations.

Amazingly, people outside of this country like Germany. According to the English, Germany is the most popular country, even! Yes, the English! The very ones who used to hate us are now celebrating us. Only question is ... why?

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