Mr. Obama has long been popular in Germany. Even before he was elected, in July 2008, 200,000 Berliners flocked to see him speak at the Victory Column in the heart of the city. For many, the affection has not abated.
Yesterday, in a two-hour exchange with his young audience, Mr. Obama frequently mentioned the issues of racism and immigration.
Barack Obama speaking to young leaders from across Europe in a town hall-style meeting on Saturday in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN — The man whom Chancellor Angela Merkel calls “dear Barack” was back in Berlin on Saturday, his lanky figure and easy smile a reminder for Germans of a different era that ended not so long ago.
But former President Barack Obama had not come to speak about the past. He came to speak to the future: some 300 young leaders from across Europe, who had gathered for a town hall-style meeting in the German capital.
It did not take long for Mr. Obama to touch on one of his main concerns — and the reason he had come to what he called “the heart of Europe.”
Europe, Mr. Obama suggested, is one of the main battlefields between liberal democracy and far-right populism.
(John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
“Nationalism, particularly on the far right, is re-emerging,” he told a packed auditorium. “We know where that leads. Europe knows better than anyone where that leads.”
“It leads to conflict, bloodshed and catastrophe,” he said.
Mr. Obama did not mention his successor’s name. But the contrast with President Trump, issue by issue, was plain.