Until recently, it was taboo for German government members to speculate openly about Greece defaulting on its debts or leaving the euro zone. Angela Merkel, the chancellor, bound by Germany's traditional commitment to European integration, reluctantly took on the role of single-currency saviour and vowed to keep the euro zone intact.
But domestic political pressures and waning confidence in Greece's ability to turn its fortunes around have led to a rethink in Berlin. Finance ministry officials have drawn up contingency plans for Greece going bankrupt, and prominent members of Mrs Merkel's centre-right coalition are saying out loud what they had not even dared to whisper a few weeks ago: Greece's days as a euro member may be numbered.
Mrs Merkel herself is still pledging that she will stand by Greece and warned on Tuesday that talk of an insolvency was unsettling markets. But her allies are starting to break ranks in a sign of frustration with her handling of the crisis, exasperation over Greece's lack of progress, and growing public anger at Germany's role as European paymaster.
Philipp Rösler, the economy minister, the leader of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), said in a newspaper commentary this week: "To stabilise the euro, there can no longer be any taboos. That includes, if necessary, an orderly bankruptcy of Greece, if the required instruments are available."
Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, the sister party to Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats, went further, saying that Greece may have to quit the euro zone if it cannot carry out necessary reforms.
The aim of this harsher rhetoric is, in part, to stop a looming rebellion among coalition MPs in the September 29 parliamentary vote on extending the size and scope of the euro bailout fund.
Several dozen MPs from Mrs Merkel's ranks are unhappy with the new provisions agreed at an EU summit on July 21 because they see them as the start of a huge transfer of wealth from Germany to poorer euro members. She can afford only 19 dissenters in the vote. If she fails to muster her own centre-right majority for this crucial piece of legislation, her authority will have suffered a potentially fatal blow. It could even lead to an early election. There are further reasons why coalition members are talking more openly about a Greek insolvency. Mrs Merkel's conservatives and the FDP have lost a string of regional elections this year. Many coalition politicians believe the time has come to get tough with Greece to reassure voters that their cash will not be frittered away on profligate countries.
The new approach also reflects genuine concern that Greece will not be able to get its act together. The Greek recession this year will be worse than expected, with the economy now projected to shrink by 5.3 per cent, according to the latest forecasts from Athens. The government is almost hopelessly behind with the public sector cutbacks and privatisation programme it had pledged in return for aid from the euro zone and the IMF.
Mrs Merkel is in an unenviable position. Her European partners are crying out for Germany to solve the crisis by underwriting the debts of struggling nations. But at home, voters think she has already done far too much.
The resignation of Jürgen Stark, a German monetary policy hawk, from the board of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week, added to her difficulties because it fuelled the impression in Germany that spendthrift southern European nations were gaining the upper hand in the handling of the crisis.
Mr Stark, the ECB's chief economist, had disagreed with the bank's risky strategy of buying government bonds of high-debt nations to calm financial markets. His departure followed the resignation in April of Axel Weber, the president of the German central bank and a member of the ECB's governing council, who also disagreed with the bond-buying programme.
Mrs Merkel has little choice but to start planning for a worst-case scenario on Greece because the country has made so little progress since getting its first bailout 17 months ago. The open talk of a Greek default and exit from the euro triggered fresh uncertainty and caused new losses in global financial markets this week.
The EU also has little choice for the time being but to keep propping up Greece until the enlarged €780 billion (Dh3.91 trillion) European Financial Stability Facility is firmly established to cope with the consequences of a Greek default on other nations and on Europe's banks.
Any hasty moves now would plunge the euro zone in a new downward spiral.
For the sake of the currency, officials in Berlin and elsewhere would be well advised to exercise greater caution in their choice of words.