Germany is finally ready for a memorial to its fallen soldiers, said Malte Lehming in Berlin’s Tagesspiegel. Our country has long been justifiably leery of any move to honor the military. The Nazi era, and before that the Bismarck era, taught Germans what horrors ostentatious patriotism can lead to. So when Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung proposed building a memorial in Berlin to those killed in foreign conflicts, such as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, many Germans were uneasy. They needn’t be. A memorial to the dead doesn’t have to “glorify fighting.” Instead, it can be a sober reminder to the authorities that the decision to send troops into battle is a decision to sacrifice some of our young. It is all too easy for policy discussions to remain abstract. A memorial would present a tacit challenge: “Was the effort worth this human life?” Was the safety of Germany really at stake, for example, in the Afghan mountains? Those who go into uniform deserve to have such a debate out in the open—right in the middle of Berlin.
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