‘As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me,” George Orwell wrote in 1941. So it went with Germany in the 20th century. The most cultured of peoples turned to barbarism. The most logical and scientifically minded of countries wrapped itself in the most rancid pseudoscience. Even as it turned against its neighbors, the country turned against itself, devoting unthinkable resources to the task of imprisoning, sterilizing, and murdering millions of noncombatants.
After the war, pride and shame battled for space in the German psyche. When I lived in Bavaria in the early Nineties while …
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