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Germany in Europe: From near-destroyer to reluctant leader

ON Nov 9, Berlin will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall that divided the city during much of the Cold War. At the time, images of exuberant wall-breakers signalled the end of communism. A quarter-century later, the event seems to have also been a prelude to the rebirth of Berlin and the emergence of Germany as Europe's supreme power.

This astonishing turnaround contains many inescapable historical ironies. Germany's great intellectual, political and scientific talent had once destined it to be the principal nation of Europe. But Germany went on to produce the most terrible variant of European imperialism, and almost brought about the destruction of Europe itself.

Not surprisingly,...

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