Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, and Frank Elbe, until yesterday Germany's Ambassador in Switzerland, have previous form. Elbe was a socialist in his youth and served in Helmut Schmidt's government. After Schmidt's fall, Elbe responded by defecting from the SPD to the centrist FDP.
Fischer was determined to demote Elbe from the day he took over at the Foreign Office - and a posting to Switzerland, after previous postings in India and Tokyo, is certainly a demotion in terms of diplomatic weight.
But Elbe's sacking yesterday was motivated by the fact that he'd gone public with criticisms everyone knows to be true - namely, that Fischer's management of the Visa Scandal was terrible ("miserables Krisenmanagement") and that Fischer had divided the Foreign Office.
Not the most career-enhancing remarks, as Elbe well knew, but the outcome will do nothing to shore up Fischer's increasingly exposed position.