This article assesses the motives, significance and implications of Germany's participation in the 1999 Kosovo War. This was all the more remarkable, because it took place under a Red–Green government and was not legitimised by a UN mandate. Events in Kosovo forced the new government to choose between two foreign policy articles of faith of the German Left: ‘nie wieder Krieg’ (‘never again war’) and ‘nie wieder Auschwitz’ (‘never again Auschwitz’). The government tried to ease this dilemma by flanking its participation in the war with intensive efforts to secure a negotiated settlement of the crisis involving Russia. Despite its participation in the war, Germany remains a ‘civilian power’, as it is committed to deploying military force strictly multilaterally. Kosovo shows that it has become a normal ‘civilian power’, comparable to other mature democracies in the Euro-Atlantic community.