This Eurocrisis has stirred many long dormant resentments in the EU. Supposedly, everyone kissed and made up decades ago, so when the southern countries ask Germany for money they are shocked that there are conditions involved. After all, aren’t we all allies here?
Germany’s insistence on conditionality has led to some imperious comments by their leaders. Ever since Wilhelm II fired Bismarck, Germany has not exactly been adept at diplomacy. These comments have caused a backlash in the southern countrieswhich manifests itself in media outlets equating today’s Germans with their Nazi ancestors, particularly Greece and Italy.
Ironically, these countries conveniently forget about their own fascist roots. Whenever I vacation in Italy, I notice lots of Mussolini paraphernalia on sale at tourist shops. They sell figurines, books and T-Shirts adorned with his scowling mug and a slogan in Italian. Shockingly, he still maintains a degree of affection in certain parts of Italian society.
Greece was ruled by a fascist military dictatorship into the 1970’s, and its neo-fascist Golden Dawn currently has 12 seats in parliament. Indeed, its support has even been increasing since the last election in May. (For fairness, I add that my own country’s government supported the Greek dictatorship, because if we didn’t the Soviets would have.)
There is no such thing as a good war. Military commanders for the allies have admitted that they did things, Dresden and Tokyo firebombings for example, for which German officers were convicted of and punished for during the Nuremberg trials.
Germany may have brought its problems on itself by its actions, but this did not give the Allies a reason to suspend their own values. The Allies cannot claim ignorance here. All of the mass relocations in history have resulted in many innocent lives being lost. Whether it was a young United States moving its indigenous populations like the “Trail of Tears” or the Ottoman Empire attempting to relocate its Armenian population during WWI, these forced migrations end the same, death on an mind-boggling scale.
People should not be surprised about the death and misery caused by the end of WWII. During the war, the rule of law still exists in the losing powers. Once they are defeated, no one is in charge, and a power vacuum develops. No laws mean unrestrained freedom, which includes the powerful being able to abuse the weak.
Thank God that Germany is a responsible, peaceful country that bears no resemblance to the military dictatorship of the 30’s and 40’s. The country is well-aware of its past, and its Basic Law is constructed to avoid the tragedies of that era. I don’t worry about Germany reverting to fascism, but I do worry about the countries who do not think that they have these same problems.
So the next time you see an article or political cartoon in the press comparing the Germans to the Nazis, do not ignore their demonization. leave a link in the comments field to Mr. Douglas’ book instead.