Want to get a great sense of how the German position on Europe is seen in the periphery?
Check out this editorial from Nikos Xydakis, the Editor-In-Chief of Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
It’s called German Demons.
…Germany behaves as if it has no knowledge of its past, or as if it does not care, as if it were suffering from selective amnesia. It appears to have forgotten the 65 years of peace and growth following the devastating Second World War. It is constantly evoking the demons of the interwar years, the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles, the inflated Deutsche mark, Nazism.
Germany appears to be drifting into malevolent territory, asking every one of its allies, partners and neighbours, everyone who is now suffering from this ongoing crisis of the eurozone, to repent and become more like, well, Germany. Or they shall be punished, condemned to hell — even if the hell of others also becomes its own.
Germany insists that redemption can only come through punishment for one’s sins. However, behind the German calls there is self-interest and hypocrisy.
This is an observation that Paul Krugman recently made, that for some reason, the sins of Weimar Germany’s hyperinflationary collapse loomed larger in the German psyche than the subsequent period of unemployment and deflation, which actually gave rise to the Nazis.
What’s remarkable here isn’t just that Germany is once again being put on the couch, with its current actions viewed through the lens of past sins, but how much the whole Eurozone crisis is revolving around ethnic and national stereotypes. The Germans are austere taskmasters who like to dole out punishment. Meanwhile, German publications like Bild promote the “lazy Greeks” view of the crisis.Even if you can solve the immediate economic equation, it’s hard to see how the cultural problem gets solved. Maybe it can just get swepts under the rug again.