"Today . . . with deep satisfaction, the federal government can state we are a free and independent state," said Chancellor Konrad Adenauer into the microphone, in a little ceremony outside Bonn's Palais Schaumburg. "We are standing, free among the free, allied with former occupation powers in true partnership." No one cheered.

Thus, in apathetic silence, sovereignty was restored to defeated Germany, nearly ten years, to the day, after Colonel General Alfred Jodl stalked into a red-brick schoolhouse in Reims to surrender to the Allies. Ten years ago, in an atmosphere almost forgotten—on a day when millions in arms felt...

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