BERLIN, March 23 — "Does nothing work out here besides the separation of garbage?" the weekly Der Spiegel asked in a recent issue, whose cover article carried the legend, "Germany: A Joke."
Countries experience malaise, as Jimmy Carter once put it of the United States (not to his advantage in public opinion), and Germany is quite clearly in that state now. No less a figure than Helmut Schmidt, the former Social Democratic chancellor, said in a recent interview with the weekly Die Zeit, "There is almost no area where Germany stands out with its achievements."
The last time Germans were suffering from malaise and low self-esteem, they decided a bit of travel would do them some good--Poland, Paris, Tobruk, Stalingrad. As a people, they tend to overcompensate. A lot.