The best from May

What you might have missed

Dear Reader,

The federal election is just four months away now. What if the Greens were to win it? Their policy pledges include putting solar panels on a million rooftops and subsidizing e-cars for commuters. This won’t come cheap - they would have to take on significant new debts to finance their plans. But that is easier said than done.

This month marked Sophie Scholl’s 100th birthday. One of six members of a peaceful resistance cell against the Nazis, Scholl was executed in 1943 for spreading anti-Nazi literature in Munich. In recent decades various political movements have tried to claim her as their own, resulting in the real Scholl being obscured behind the legend.

The election of another pro-independence Scottish parliament this month has led to speculation about the break-up of the United Kingdom. German media coverage of the election, which boiled it down to a story of xenophobic English vs cosmopolitan Scots, told us more about modern German attitudes to the British than it did about actual events on the island.

Passports issued by Israel in its early years were “valid for all countries except Germany.” A lot has changed since then - German was even spoken in the Knesset in 2008 where Angela Merkel raised Israeli security to German Staatsräson. A look at the history of this complex relationship shows that it could be time for a reboot.

The US media has been abuzz with chatter about the origins of the coronavirus this week. Did it escape from a laboratory in Wuhan after all? As we’ve previously reported, this hypothesis should not be dismissed out of hand. If it were true, it would pose uncomfortable questions for some of Europe’s top virologists. It’s just as well der Spiegel has got their back.

Finally, back in the 19th century Leo Tolstoy observed that Germans have a tendency to try and rationalize everything - even chaos. In recent weeks an argument has rumbled on that would have interested the great Russian author. It concerns a group of modellers who have been predicting what the coronavirus is going to do next - with mixed results. Were the mathematicians at the Max Planck Institute victims of their own success, or is reality just too messy to be plugged into equations?