This is of course only one of many explanations. German democracy’s own logic also creates points of vulnerability for itself: Refusing military service for reasons of conscience immediately became so respected that it could almost become the rule.
And the instruction provided by a whole generation of young teachers, in which existing society was presented as inherently perverted, has had just as great an impact as the Establishment’s refusal to grant justice and its lack of understanding.
The Establishment, in turn, also advocates a “not with us” attitude in its own way. For its members, it is self-evident that the Federal Republic should not assume any responsibility anywhere in the world, no matter how strong its economic power might be. The outside world will only accept a timid and cowering Germany.
Certainly, fear of nuclear death plays a role. In a different international, social, and political climate it would doubtless be less intense. The infighting among the leaders of social democracy, rising unemployment, the seething tide in Poland that seems to suggest that some leeway is possible under Soviet rule: The points of departure for destabilization are manifold.
It is still too soon to say that the firmly-anchored, thirty-year-long stability of the Federal Republic has already been supplanted. The Federal Republic has previously withstood other moral crises without losing its basic orientation. But the present crisis is without a doubt the most serious one of all.
Source: Alfred Grosser, “Diese Krise ist die schwerste” [“This Crisis is the Most Serious One of All”], Der Spiegel, October 19, 1981, pp. 34-35.
Translation: Allison Brown