Ah, the Germans. Always so playful and whimsical.

I enjoyed both of the spots below, which capture the absurdity of the banal sacrifice people in first-world countries are being asked — and refusing — to make. Watching an elderly German reminisce in warm tones about the great national struggle he participated in as a youth isn’t entirely comfortable but it helps underline the silliness of the punchline. It’s no laughing matter for Germany, though: They’re a notable exception to the trend in other western European countries in which COVID cases are soaring to springtime levels but COVID deaths remain relatively low. Germany had a much easier time of it eight months ago than some of its neighbors did, with the result that its current daily death tolls are creeping up towards its peak in March and April.

On the other hand, even with deaths rising, Germany continues to have a milder pandemic than most other leading western nations. The trends in cases per capita:

Two weeks ago the U.S. was sixth among the seven nations listed on that graph in daily cases per million, with only Germany suffering fewer. Two weeks later we’re second. France and Belgium seem to have gotten things back under control to some degree while the UK has flattened out its curve. We’re still on the way up, with 149,000 positive tests today and a record 73,000 people hospitalized. What this country’s going to look like two weeks after Thanksgiving, God only knows.