Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

When Angela Merkel welcomed hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers from countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan into Germany two years ago, she was widely hailed as a saint. On the cover of the German magazine Der Spiegel, she was the second coming of Mother Teresa. As Time’s person of the year, she was the “Chancellor of the Free World.” The leader of a nation intimately acquainted with the dark side of xenophobic nationalism was righteously rejecting the nativism sweeping other countries.

But as Germany struggled mightily to integrate the newcomers and Merkel’s popularity plummeted, the conversation quickly turned to whether the sainted leader had, in fact, committed a catastrophic sin. “Germany is a mess,” Donald Trump told Malcolm Turnbull in a phone call early this year. “These people are crazy to let this happen.” The Australian prime minister readily agreed with his American counterpart. “You cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders,” he responded.

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