I found a typical comment on that topic here (hat tip to Weblog Sicherheitspolitik).
Germans are in the process of redefining themselves as “victims of war.” Claiming that all war is always horrible for everyone involved, they remove all questions of who and why. Pacifist Germans have conveniently drawn the wrong conclusion from WW2 - that freedom and democracy must not be defended militarily.
You hear this all the time in Germany: that Germans know the price of war and have learned their lesson - unlike those naive, stupid Americans. In this self-serving myth, having started a war that killed 50 million ended up cleansing and purifying them, enabling them to reach a higher moral plane. Thus the perpetrators gain the moral high ground over the victors. Or so they think. (The irony is that most Germans have no memory of any war, while millions of Americans were affected by the effort to win the cold war and subsequent conflicts)
Let's look at it, piece for piece.
"victims of war"
The opposite of victims are perpetrators, and it could be argued that Germans are not only victims but also perpetrators of WW2 and holocaust.
The largest base for this allegation is that Hitler came to power through democratic elections.
However, the result was only 33.1% for the NSDAP in that election. Only 71.1% of the eligible voters voted in that election in November 1932. That reduced the share to 23.5%.
The requirement for voting rights was 20 years of age. So only those born in 1912 or earlier - and only a third of them - can be blamed on base of this argument.
The German statistics agency's data (dated 2006) shows that in 2006 there were about 153,000 Germans living who were born in 1913 or earlier. Time went by, and an extrapolation for today yields about 107,000 likely survivors born in 1913 or earlier.
So today we've got probably only about 25,000 survivors who have voted for the Nazis in November of 1932. They're all 95 years or older.
The generations who experienced the horrors of war and had to rebuild Germany, pay reparations and suffer from dictatorships is much, much stronger today - it's the grandparents generation and the Eastern German parents generation.
So what is coining a nation more; millions of victims or ten thousands of perpetrators?
The truth is: Few living people are still to blame for what happened several generations ago.
"Claiming that all war is always horrible for everyone involved..."
"...that freedom and democracy must not be defended militarily."
There's a wide-spread and absolutely ridiculous assertion in American right-wing circles that Germans/Europeans wouldn't want to fight, not even for their own freedom. I think that nonsense is in the background of this quote.
Another assumption in the background of this quote is apparently that Americans defend freedom and democracy militarily.
The reality is a bit more complex.
1) Germans are ready to defend sovereignty with military means and we spend billions on the military even though there's no-one really threatening us today.
On the other hand there's simply no consensus that the sovereignty of non-allied states needs to be defended by us.
Well, that's the point of an alliance: It establishes a difference between the normal relations among UN members and the relations inside of the club (alliance).
Why should we promise to defend everyone if not everyone promises to defend us?
Unlike some other nations, we at least stick to our commitments in the Charter of the United Nations in regard to non-allied countries.
There are some pacifists in Germany, numbering probably some hundred thousands of citizens. Yet even most of these would agree that the Bundeswehr should attempt to repel an invasion of Germany to defend "freedom and democracy".
2) Americans don't defend freedom and democracy. That's the propaganda, but in fact it's neither about defence, nor about freedom or democracy. At least not all at once.
It's not about defence because they have never entered a war on their own to defend any democracy. They were either declared war on by their enemies or they defended non-democratic states. The entry into WW1 was not about freedom either, but a plain meddling in another continent's war among similar powers. It could be argued whether the Republic of Korea was a real democracy in 1950, but that's an exception.
It's not about freedom or democracy because U.S. wars are about "national interest" or "national defence". The "freedom" and "democracy" part is just the propaganda to build up and maintain support for the wars at home.
"You hear this all the time in Germany: that Germans know the price of war and have learned their lesson - unlike those naive, stupid Americans."
In this self-serving myth, having started a war that killed 50 million ended up cleansing and purifying them, enabling them to reach a higher moral plane.That's a gross misunderstanding. The war did not cleanse and purify "us".
Let me explain. The wars before 1945 were fought by "them", not by "us". Only a tiny minority of "them" survived and they are so old that their role in our society and politics is now very small. The most well-known example is probably former chancellor (social democrats) and 1st lieutenant in WW2, Helmut Schmidt. He's a kind of a wisdom reservoir on two legs, but very, very old and an exception to the rule.
Someone asked me a while ago how Germans could like the Indiana Jones movies (you know, Nazis being the baddies). Well, it's simple: We like to see Nazis being thrashed. They're not "us", just like they're not "us" for British, French, Russians or Americans (with up to a per cent exceptions everywhere in the Western world).
So since the Germans of WW2 are not "us", "we" weren't "purified" and "cleansed".
Instead, we had a decades-long exposure to lessons learned debriefings. THAT is what created an above-normal awareness to certain dangers.
I argued in 2008 that this was actually an exaggerated effort, as we should learn more from others' history and others should learn more from our history.
"The irony is that most Germans have no memory of any war, while millions of Americans were affected by the effort to win the cold war and subsequent conflicts"
Americans, Brits and Frenchmen had to expect to die to Soviet nukes if WW3 happened.
Germans had to expect to die to Soviet, American, French and British nukes if WW3 happened.
It's quite depressing to know that your "allies" would not defend, but kill you in the event of war.
It's certainly something that clarifies the insanity of war.
Oh, by the way - it's also a strong counter to American claims that we should be grateful for the defence that the USA provided to us during the Cold War. The "Nuclear umbrella" was in reality just a "Sword of Damocles".
A feeling of superiority with the own position isn't fully justified until the analysis of the roots of both the own and the other opinion is complete and supporting for the own position.
Mr. Greenwald did not analyze the roots of the German majority opinion properly, nor did he understand that opinion fully. And - as it's obvious by my comments - I suppose that he didn't even understand his country's behaviour fully, as he seemed to believe in covering myths instead.
On the other hand - maybe I'm just not done with my analysis of his opinion and its roots. It's difficult to know when you're done with it (and you probably never are as both are changing over time) on your own.
I hope that this - even if not complete and maybe not 100% correct - provided additional insights and pushed readers towards the complete picture on the issue.
It's as always - only in religious mythology you have prophets who give a complete and perfect statement. In reality you should join mosaic parts gained from many sources to complete the image. I am always just trying to provide additional mosaic parts and to correct wrong colour pieces on some positions.
P.S.: Isn't it funny? Just two decades ago the same WW2 stories would have been used to make sure Germans DON'T think about waging war again.