May 12, 2012

"Germany Pays to Save Greeks" and Other Bedtime Stories

Former Greek prime minister George Papandreou says that when he asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for gentler conditions in 2010, she replied that the aid program had to hurt. "We want to make sure nobody else will want this!" Ms. Merkel told him.

Also read the very detailed and lengthy report on how the austerity plan has failed on the Wall Street Journal.


  1. Here is the problem: Germans don't mind paying and supporting the Greeks. But why would we give MORE money to people who burn our flag in public and insult us. Is that how they say thank you, is that how they express their gratitude to us? We're giving away Millions of Euros and that's what we get back? Seriously!

  2. Evan,

    I totally get what you're saying. Makes sense. And I don't know how old you are or how much you know about history between Germany and Greece (and it would be presumptuous of me to think that you're relatively young and not specifically versed in that historical bit, but let's run with it for the time being, if you excuse me), but there is a very real, tangible *dread* among Greeks of all ages about Nazi Germany because Greece suffered a LOT (a hell of a lot! more than most countries) during WWII and no reparations (or even an official "sorry") were ever issued. Compared to what Nazi Germany did to France for instance, that was "small potatoes" as Americans say.

    Now, I understand that modern Germany isn't Nazi Germany. And that we can't look into the future without making peace with the past, such as it is. But there is a very ingrained strong feeling, because most grandmothers & grandfathers have tales to tell (and relatives killed) and grandchildren are taught from a young age how much the country suffered in the 1940s because of all this. Whole villages were pillaged and burnt, their whole population exterminated as retaliation for resistance, women knifed, babies bayonetted in the cribs, did you know all that? You can check Wikipedia:
    There's a great body of literature that's even in the school curriculum taught about those difficult times. The point is: we haven't forgotten.

    It's natural that in difficult times, this old feeling is rekindled, often to unjust results, as you mention. Germany has contributed a LOT to the world and has a long line of thinkers and scientists and artists, but this whole WWII thing is still very much a stigma. I know it's not nice, but there you have it.

    It doesn't help that most Europeans see the economic flourishing of Germany as an attempt to impose a 4th Reich, this time in economic terms. I think this is something that is not the fault of the average (well mannered and well meaning) German, but of the administrations, who cater for their electorate rather than the wellbeing of the European Union. It also doesn't help that a VAST amount of the money given as a bailout is returning back to the rest of Europe: of the one billion euros withheld till there was an administration coming out of the elections in Greece and now trickling into our reserves, 900 millions are going back to the European solidarity bank scheme!!! That's never mentioned though. Make of that that politicians will almost certainly embezzle a few millions as well and you can be the average Greek won't see a single cent into their wallet.

    It also doesn't help that Greeks and other Southern Europeans have a totally different mentality regarding life in general. I've been to Germany and have seen the way of living up close. It's something which Germans do appreciate when they're coming to our countries for holidays, please note, so it's not totally reprehensible for you, I assume.
    But to subjugate all people into one uniform model of living is a sort of imposition and Greeks, rebels as we have always been, resist to that first and foremost.

    I hope you get a better understanding of the thoughts that run into the mind of the average Greek and realize why they can't really be "thankful" or "grateful". On the other hand I do sincerely hope that we get to bypass this tension in the two countries' relations. The European Union and Europe in general needs both its square minds and its rebels, I think, don't you? :-)

  3. I meant to type: "and you can *bet* the average Greek won't see a single cent into their wallet."


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