As you may imagine, I would also like to challenge Neillands' view that Germany was more aggressive or militaristic than its neighbors, except for the years 1933-45. I don't claim innocence or victimhood for Prussia and Germany, I just don't see anything out of the ordinary in the time up to 1933. For example, it was France that declared war on Prussia in 1870, not the other way round. And the origins of WWI, well, we know that it is complicated.
Obviously, Neillands never visited Heidelberg, where he could have seen the ruins of the castle, one of the many results of French expansionism. Admittedly, this was in the 17th century, and it is correct that the 1860s/70s wars and WWI did not lead to physical destructions in Germany. This is historically rather unusual, since Germany was the main battleground for the Napoleonic wars and the Thirty Years' War. On the other hand, the population severely suffered during WWI, due to starvation brought about by the British blockade.
Yes of course, WWII prompted a major change in German mentality. The destruction of all major cities was one factor, the others being the expulsion of 15 million Germans from the East, pouring into the destroyed cities in the West, and the Holocaust, whose broad reception in the general population started rather late, but then deeply changed German self-perception. Germany today is very pacifist - many observers from Britain or the US would say: too pacifist. I would not count on Germany for any future war, even if it was justified. In doubt, they will keep out and prefer not to get involved. And bombing campaigns against cities, even if alleged to consist in "precision" attacks, are in any case viewed with suspicion.
For those interested in architectural debate in regard to the widespread destruction of cultural monuments during WWII in Germany, the site of the Neues Museum in Berlin may be of interest: »Neues Museum - Dokumentation der ergänzenden Wiederherstellung«
Don't miss "Treppenhalle" and "Apollosaal" in Ebene 2!
The pictures shown depict the state of the building AFTER the reconstruction (2009) of the building, which was of course severely damaged during WWII. The architect tried not to restore the original appearance, but to preserve the damage. This architect was of course - a Brit...!