Is Germany really such a role model?

The British romance with Germany has always been an on-off affair. At the turn of the century, Kaiser Bill enjoyed brief popularity, based on dynastic ties, until his bombastic militarism set Germany on a path to war. Thirty years on, as Tim Bouverie reminds us in his book Appeasing Hitler, many in the English ruling class favoured Nazi Germany over revanchist France. After the war, Rhenish capitalism, Germany’s social contract between management and labour, appeared to offer a soothing alternative to strike-torn Britain. Then Mrs Thatcher arrived with stiffer medicine. John Kampfner’s Why the Germans Do It Better is a beguiling title because the British have undoubtedly hit a bad