Stephen Milder in the Boston Review:
German leaders’ vigorous efforts over the last year to better equip the Bundeswehr—and thus prove their commitment to the security of Europe—have been described as a dramatic turning point in postwar German history. Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself used such language last February to justify his pledge to take out an unprecedented €100 billion loan, which he referred to as a “special fund” for “necessary investments and armament projects.” Unwilling to leave any doubt about his commitment to strengthening the armed forces, Scholz announced that annual defense budget increases would follow. Speaking to parliament three days after the war began, Scholz justified this orgy of defense spending by arguing that the Russian invasion marked a “watershed in the history of our continent.” The claim must be understood in reference to the elephant in the German historical imagination: World War II. “Many of us,” the chancellor explained, “still remember our parents’ or grandparents’ tales of war. And for younger people it is almost inconceivable—war in Europe.” His arguments were widely accepted. By June parliament had passed the constitutional amendment required to follow through on Scholz’s plan for the huge increase in Bundeswehr funding.