The German words, “Ich dien’” (I search) have for centuries articulated a cherished German virtue and been part of the coat of arms of the Princes of Wales since the 14th century (see image above).
By greedily manipulating the emissions control software of its diesels, VW has not only cheated those eleven million but betrayed the very values that had been a recorded German characteristic seven centuries. Whatever their shortcomings, Germans have always been known for as decent, trustworthy, honest, highly accomplished perfectionists, as a people taking delight in serving their neighbors. They were admired for their engineering skills.
That they should have abused these very skills in committing a mass crime on an unfathomable scale seemed atypical for Germans when this happened under a tyranny more than seven decades ago. That it happened again in a democracy, albeit in a less murderous manner, renders me utterly dejected. To understand this despair, a brief excursion into our long history might be helpful to non-Germans.