Monday, October 09, 2006

Fritz Stern

In 1979, when [Fritz Stern] was walking through the still bombed out centre of Berlin with Raymond Aron, [Stern and Aron] agreed that were it not for Hitler, the twentieth century might have been Germany's century. [Stern] had a grudging admiration for Germany of the kind voiced by Charles De Gaulle when he first ventured to Russia during World War II. Amid the ruins of Stalingrad, site of the farthest advance and greatest defeat of the German army, De Gaulle muttered "Quelle peuple!" An aide inquired, "You mean the Russians?" "No, " said De Gaulle, "the Germans". The general's judgement, [Stern] writes, says much about the German drama of the past century...Germany had "corrupted and nearly destroyed historic Europe" -- and civilisation itself --and yet its "prodigiously creative" people "would be indispensible for the post war recovery of Europe".
--from Amos Elon's review of Five Germanys I Have Known by Fritz Stern

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