Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ assault on Germany is an old propaganda trick – but not working well – some in the world media think.
Why Greece is Content to Blame Germany
The Guardian – Nikos Dimou
Never have Greek-German relations been as bad as they are today. The image of the heartless, cold and disciplinarian Germans hovers over Greece – while in Germany the talk is of the lazy, greedy and spendthrift Greeks who milk the German taxpayer.
The first king of Greece was a German: Otto, prince of Bavaria. His father, Ludwig, was so passionate about Greek antiquity that he transformed his capital, Munich, into an “Athens of the North”.
Otto came to Greece with an army of German professors who tried to Europeanise the country – with limited success. German archaeologists excavated some of the most famous Greek sites (Olympia foremost), and German scholars published the best editions of classical authors.
Of course, the second world war changed everything. The Germans invaded Greece – after their allies, the Italians, had failed in their attempts – and remained in the country for three-and-a-half years, during which they committed more atrocities than in any other conquered nation.
Greeks have always had a love-hate relation with the Germans. On one hand, they admired German discipline and thoroughness (and adored German products). On the other, they could not abide their Protestant work ethic, their seriousness and their austerity. And then came the economic crisis …
The causes of the crisis may be complex – but the Greeks always needed a simple and straightforward answer. They have a long history of attributing their problems to foreign powers and agents.
And now the enemy is Germany. But why only Germany? After all, many factors were involved: the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and 18 eurozone states.
One explanation is that Germany is the biggest and most powerful nation in Europe. It is very visible and suits all kinds of conspiracy theories.
It has an arrogant style and a dark record. The war’s bad memories were unearthed. Popular radio commentators constructed an imaginary world, with Greece once again under German occupation …
The left and Alexis Tsipras profited from this reaction and promised to liberate people from oppression …
It’s a very old propaganda trick: you fabricate an enemy, a culprit, a scapegoat, and throw all responsibility on them. Given the historical context and the behaviour of Wolfgang Schäuble, who was wagging his admonishing index finger at Greeks for four years – this was an easy job.
So it came to be that our ex-beloved nation became our arch-enemy.
Germany vs. Greece: Who Owes Who?
Washington Post – Anthony Faiola
In the Greek resort town of Nafplio, German tourists Ludwig Zaccaro and Nina Lange shocked the local mayor last week by walking into City Hall with a reparations check. The couple had seen a figure in the news claiming Germany owned Greece more than $74 billion for Nazi crimes during World War II — a figure they boiled down to $936 per German citizen.
“We thought, Germany should start by paying its own debts before demanding the Greeks pay theirs,” said Lange, a 55-year-old social worker.
Consider it a down payment. At odds with its creditors led by Germany and running out of cash, Greece is reaching a do-or-die moment in its fight to renegotiate the terms of its bailout and avoid a catastrophic exit from the euro.
But even as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lands here Monday for critical talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Athens is seeking to turn the tables on its single biggest paymaster. Who, the Greeks are asking, truly owes who?
In recent weeks, the new government in Athens led by radical nationalists has resuscitated old claims against Germany for 20th-century atrocities committed in Greece by the Nazis — damages a Greek auditing office estimated could run as high as $340 billion, coincidentally enough to wipe out Greek debt.
The demand for reparations has now become part of a bitter clash of cultures between Greece and Germany that has poisoned financial talks and raised fears of a stalemate with potentially dire consequences.
In both countries, bitter vitriol against the other is seeping into the political sphere and pop culture in a manner not seen since the early stages of the Greek debt crisis and bordering now on the tragicomic …
“I am astonished by the Greek government’s collision course,” said Wolfgang Bosbach, a member of parliament from Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “The more I berate my creditors, the more I get? I really don’t know what they are thinking.”
Merkel, Nazis and Occupation of Greece
Euronews – Sarah Joanne Taylor
“Don’t mention the war!” John Cleese’s infamous character Basil Fawlty would have cried. But on Saturday (March 21), German weekly magazine Der Spiegel did just that… With bells on.
It’s headline: ‘The German Superpower’, seems, at worst, a little arrogant. But it is the front cover which has set tongues wagging on both sides of the continent.
This week’s image sees Chancellor Angela Merkel juxtaposed onto a picture of a group of Nazis standing at the Parthenon during the German occupation of Greece in World War II.
The subsequent article does not liken Merkel to the Nazi forces of the Second World War. Rather, it attempts to show just how Germany is seen by the rest of Europe: as the unofficial ‘chief’ of the European Union.
The article goes on to explain the complex web of financial arrangements between Greece and Germany – one of the EU’s principal players – going back to the contentious issue of German war reparations.
While details of Greece’s multi-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout package are common knowledge, Der Spiegel claims Berlin could also owe Athens its own lump sum.
Following a new study by the Athenian Treasury, Berlin could face increased pressure to pay for loans the Nazis forced the Greek Central Bank to provide during the 1940s.
Source: The National Herald