The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday

Remainers who idolise Germany are living in cloud cuckoo land

- The title of former New Statesman editor John Kampfner’s 2021 book Why The Germans Do It Better: Notes From a Grown-Up Country the Germans Do It Worse.

ought to have been a grim joke. And yet, riding the wave of fanatical continenta­lism among Remainers that followed Brexit, it was not.

Kampfner singles out for praise Deutschlan­d’s policies on immigratio­n, climate change, culture, and, laughably, the handling of Covid, foreign policy and even “history”. It was hailed as “excellent and provocativ­e”, “passionate” and “timely” by the great and the good.

Timely – if you ignore Germany’s policy of appeasemen­t of Russia, which was to backfire less than a year after the book came out with the invasion of Ukraine. Timely if you ignore the fact that 63 per cent of Germans under 40 don’t know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. And timely if you ignore the insane decision to close all nuclear power stations amid an energy crisis.

It’s also a less “grown-up” country even than Britain when you consider the utterly parlous state of its rail network, one of the hallmarks of a well-run country. When I lived in Berlin in 2014, long-distance trains were already shocking and Deutsche Bahn customers were utterly fed up. Last week, dependent on an ICE train from Cologne to Brussels to catch a Eurostar back home, I found that nothing had changed. I suspected I would miss my Eurostar, since a delay of more than 40 mins in Germany would be fatal – and I did. The conductors were kept in the dark about the cause of several delays, which saw me over an hour late. The system is so broken – DB currently has its lowest-ever punctualit­y rates – train staff don’t even understand why they’re sat in a field.

A suggested and more “timely” update to Kampfner’s book?

 ?? ?? Off the rails: customers are fed up with the state of Germany’s railways
Off the rails: customers are fed up with the state of Germany’s railways

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