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Leaders fiddle as Euro burns" reads a headline in an English paper that I picked up from a pile with its German counterparts, all of which seemed less alarmed, even languid in their take on what appears to be the biggest challenge the European Union has ever faced.

Why the comparatively relaxed tone, I wondered as I walked through the streets of the German capital where the always-too-early Christmas lights had just been switched on — where's the good old German angst? For all I could detect in the current mood was a feeling of indifference mixed with uncertainty, a kind of dry suspense of the sort you might find in a Thomas Mann novel. 

Perhaps this was what Timothy Garton Ash alluded to when he reported that  Mann's post-1945 wish to see "not a German Europe but a European Germany" had a new variation in Berlin: "a European Germany in a German Europe". 

Outside Germany, this might look like a weirdly teutonic state of being, fuelled by a sentiment akin to ignorance or even just a narcissistic guilt complex. Ever since Angela Merkel styled herself the mother of Europe (or at least indulged in playing one part of the Merkozy double act), the assumption abroad has been that the Germans could end the crisis immediately if they wanted to. 

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