John Ramsden begins his chronicle of Anglo-German attitudes with an anecdote about a holiday encounter with a German couple in Italy. The conversation turned to Russia. Ramsden asked the ‘handsome, upright’ German if he had visited Russia.
‘Well, just once,’ he wryly responded. ‘I went there in a tank in 1942.’ Pause. ‘To Stalingrad.’ This was followed by a delightful smile and the whispered, ‘I’m sorry. I know we are not supposed to mention the war.’