But the pacifism born of the trauma and reflection of military misadventures – including the horrors of the Third Reich – has helped limit any chance of a central German military role in major world events.
Andriy Melnyk, Kiev’s ambassador to Germany, doesn’t believe it.
“It is amazing that Berlin is also using the question of historical responsibility as an argument for rejecting military aid,” Melnyk told the German Press Agency DPA last week.
“This responsibility should apply precisely to the Ukrainian people who lost at least 8 million lives during the German occupation of Ukraine by the Nazis,” he said.
Kiev has a long wish list for weapons and military hardware from Germany, one of the top five arms exporters in the world.
Instead, Berlin once again reached into the public coffers to offer Ukraine financial aid and education.
Scholz’s three-party coalition, meanwhile, is still struggling to reach an agreement on what sanctions should be imposed if Russian President Vladimir Putin presses ahead with his bid to return Ukraine to Moscow’s empire.
These measures should include a ban on selling Russian gas to Western Europe via the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The SPD itself is compromised by the former chancellor and longtime friend of Putin, Gerhard Schröder, in his position as Nord Stream board member. There are also conflicts in the SPD-led Nordland Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the German entry point for the gas canal.
In general, German business is concerned about how sanctions will affect its exports to Russia and how reduced Russian gas supplies would affect domestic production.
Unlike France and Britain, Germany is not a European nuclear power, which is another weak link in its diplomatic arsenal.
“Neither the European partners nor the USA actually know the German position,” said Stefan Meister from the German Society for Foreign Relations.
Germany’s dealings with Moscow are further complicated by the network of so-called Russian “understanders” in the Berlin political establishment.
This came to a head over the weekend when German Navy Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach resigned after demanding “respect” for Putin and calling Russia an old and important nation.
After lengthy ambiguities, Scholz finally declared last week that “all options are on the table” and that Berlin would act jointly with partners in the European Union and NATO should Russian military aggression escalate.
As Washington focuses more on Asia, Berlin has enjoyed its role as a diplomatic bridge between the Western alliance and Russia, including in talks with Moscow about its support for Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine’s eastern border regions. But it is French President Emmanuel Macron who should call Putin this week.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to defend Berlin’s stance over the weekend by insisting on NBC News. Meet the press that the Germans “broadly share our concerns” after being asked if Germany is “the sticking point” in forming a Western united front in dealing with the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, Scholz is aware of the nostalgia of some elements of the SPD for the party’s 1970s Ostpolitik – Approaches to Moscow and its former communist satellites.
Despite the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, SPD MP Ralf Stegner attacked in a series of tweets what he saw as “saber rattling” by some German commentators, whom he claimed had a “Cold War tone” accepted.
Ukraine will also be on the agenda at this weekend’s Greens conference, with the party poised to block Nord Stream deals as a price for Ukraine’s sovereignty.