Opinion: Europe battles the past | Opinion | ABnews24

Sat, April 20, 2019
Opinion: Europe battles the past
There is a vogue for rewriting history, but pacifist Germany defies the continent’s nationalist tide. Photo - AFP
There is a vogue for rewriting history, but pacifist Germany defies the continent’s nationalist tide. Photo - AFP
Miranda Green: From Poland’s desire to criminalise claims that the country or any of its citizens might have been complicit in Nazi war crimes, to Viktor Orban’s attempts to rehabilitate Hungary’s fascist wartime leader, there is a vogue in certain corners of Europe for rewriting history. In others, new developments prompt strong attachments to the past: think of Brexit Britain’s appetite for all things Churchillian, or objections by many Greeks to Macedonia’s renaming, seeing it as an unjustified claim on ancient glories. 
With the approach of next week’s Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering for defence policy chiefs from the western democracies, what should we make of such a rash of controversies? In this week’s column, Philip Stephens argues that Germany has a uniquely healthy attitude to confronting historical horrors, which allows it, in most senses, to make the most of the present. 
But is Germany ready to, for example, shoulder more of the defence burden? An examination of the draft coalition deal sows some doubt in the mind, as too, argues Philip, does a tour of the determinedly low-key Invaliden cemetery in Berlin. This “stubborn pacifism” is the correct response to Germany’s role in the 20th century, he writes, but it may prevent Angela Merkel stepping into the leadership vacuum vacated by Donald Trump. 
Caution is their watchword: When it comes to the prospects for Germany’s next grand coalition, do not expect fireworks or radicalism. Tony Barber explains that six months after the elections, Angel Merkel is about to form a government with Martin Schulz while both leaderships keep at least one eye on mollifying their party supporters. 
Tech-savvy Muslim women on the rise: Saadia Zahidi paints a picture of female science and tech graduates across the Muslim world populating start-ups and corporations, empowered by the gig economy and lack of restrictive stereotypes about female career paths. 
Trump gets under the skin of US elites: Ed Luce uses this week’s column to explore how Donald Trump riles highly-educated Americans by exposing their illusions: as Ed observes, “the gap between the self image of meritocratic openness and reality is wide”. – Financial Times
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