BERLIN — For decades, Germany’s role in Europe has been to supply the cash, not the leadership. With fresh memories of war, the continent was cautious about German domination — and so were the Germans themselves.
But the economic crisis has shaken Europe’s postwar model, and Germany increasingly calls the shots. As countries struggle to pay their debts, only Chancellor Angela Merkel has enough money to haul them out of trouble. And the price Merkel is demanding — more control over how they run their economies — is setting off alarm bells in capitals across the continent.
In Athens, protesters dressed up as Nazis routinely prowl the streets, an allusion to the old model of an assertive Germany. In Poland, accusations that Germany has imperial ambitions became a campaign issue in the recent presidential election.
And although German leaders have sought in recent weeks to soothe others’ fears in advance of high-level meetings in Brussels on Sunday and in coming days, the tone has sometimes sounded pugilistic.