So Germany’s initial reluctance, thankfully overcome yesterday, to send tanks to Ukraine can be partly explained by the shame still felt about the Nazi regime, although some will point to the corrupting effect of Russian money in the country.
“There are a lot of people who really have trouble with the idea of seeing German tanks roll east of Germany and kill Russian soldiers because it really creates a kind of image that reminds ourselves of the Second World War,” Ulrike Franke, a defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Time magazine. “There is a big belief that weapons are no solution; you don’t solve conflicts with arms.”
The problem with this idea is that Vladimir Putin is using Russia’s weapons to indiscriminately kill Ukrainian men, women and children. And, just as he has done in Russia, he would almost certainly kill political opponents if he conquered Ukraine. He must be resisted militarily, there is no alternative. In helping democratic Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian dictator’s invasion, Germany is standing up to a tyrant who is closer to the evil of Hitler than any European leader since the war.
Last year, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of a historic turning point, Zeitenwende, when he abandoned longstanding restrictions on Germany’s military. But Germany still needs to free itself from the chains of its past sins and have confidence that it is, without doubt, a leading liberal democracy and one that must play its full part in the defence of freedom.