A Mysterious Calm Germans Remain Unflappable During Euro Crisis

The euro is teetering, neighboring countries are complaining about pressure from Berlin, and the German chancellor is rushing from one crisis summit to another. Typically more anxious, the Germans appear to be strangely unperturbed amid the furor. What is the root of this new serenity?

By and

Visitors to the Reichstag in Berlin.
DPA

Visitors to the Reichstag in Berlin.


Berlin -- The moment of truth is drawing near. Next week the chancellor is travelling to Brussels for yet another crisis summit. Together with the other European heads of government, Angela Merkel wants to finally rescue the euro. She must rescue it.

Everything is at stake. The final game for the euro and for Europe is in full swing. Every day that the debt crisis continues to come to a head, fear is growing that all efforts will be for naught, and that the breakup of the euro is unpreventable. The fear is growing in the financial markets, in the halls of power in Paris, Rome and Madrid, and in Berlin's chancellery.

But among Germans, the fear appears not to be growing.

There is, of course, the German angst, of which the Anglo-Saxons and the Americans like to talk about. It is so legendary that it is almost proverbial. Haven't the Germans always reacted despondently or even hysterically as soon as there is a threat of potential disaster? In this part of the world, the worries over climate change are especially pronounced; we get stirred up by health concerns like E.coli outbreaks and the swine flu; and we abandon nuclear energy immediately after in far away Japan a tsunami leads to a nuclear catastrophe. Should all Germans be in a panic because the euro could soon be history?

They aren't, at least noticeably. Those walking through the Christmas markets and shopping malls this season will notice little worry or fear. Families and friends ask sKeptically what will happen to their money, but in the next sentence talk about what their Christmas wishes are. And according to a poll conducted by the network ARD, a majority (55 percent) say they are not personally affected by the crisis. A vague uneasiness seems to stand opposite an unshakable tranquillity.

Has the German angst slowly evolved into a German lässigkeit, or nonchalance, as Roger Cohen, the long-time correspondent of the New York Times, attests regarding the financial crisis?

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