In 1969, when I was elected national chairman of the Young Socialists (Jungsozialisten – Jusos), the SPD youth organization, the future US ambassador to Germany John Kornblum was a young diplomat stationed in Bonn. Many years later, he told me that after this Young Socialist congress, American diplomats had been gripped by the fear of a grave future crisis in transatlantic relations. The prevailing analysis was: “If this generation of Young Socialists one day assumed the leadership of the SPD or – even worse – control of the federal government, relations between the US and Germany would be plagued by conflict and mistrust.” Henry Kissinger expressed similar skepticism to me when Joschka Fischer became foreign minister. These pessimistic scenarios of the future have proven to be wrong.

The original article appeared in The fall 2015 issue of the Berlin Journal on November 16, 2015. Click here to continue reading.