Angela Merkel, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice

By Jerry Kammer on October 6, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won international praise for her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees. But public opinion at home is becoming restless for reassurance that the government will restrain the influx.

As the British newspaper, The Telegraph, put it: "Speculation is mounting that Angela Merkel will win this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her handling of the European refugee crisis and the war in Ukraine, just as public opinion in Germany is hardening on the migrant issue."

Germany's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, acknowledged that he was "very worried" about the situation. Speaking in a tone markedly more restrained than Merkel's repeated expressions of confidence that Germany can manage the influx, leader of the Social Democrats said:

Anyone who speaks with Germany's mayors and district councils has observed this: In Germany we are rapidly approaching the limits of our abilities. In other words, in addition to confidence we also need realism. ... We want to treat the people properly, giving them not just food and a place to stay, but prospects for their future life. Language instruction, education, access to our society. But there are actual limits to the capacity of the cities and towns to handle the stress.


One commenter on the Der Spiegel website reacted to the Gabriel interview with a suggestion to read "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", Goethe's haunting story about the dangers of summoning forces that cannot be controlled.