Original post at TheBlend.ie (August 29, 2012)
GERMANS are known for being complainers. In the past, the building of Irish motorways and their monetary EU contributions have caused much furore among the German public. These days, the topic which splits the German public is the economic collapse and its aftermath of bailouts. The most ignorant of them all, author Thilo Sarrazin, has struck again.
On Tuesday, a handful of old folk gathered at a Berlin bookshop to listen to former Social Democrat, Thilo Sarrazin, reading from his latest book - Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro.
In 2010, Thilo Sarrazin argued in his book Germany Abolishes Itself that people of other racial background are dumber than ze Germans. This cost him his post as director of the German Central Bank. Yet, there is still no stopping the controversial author with the distinct moustache.
“I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for seventy percent of the Turkish and ninety percent of the Arab population in Berlin,” argued Thilo Sarrazin in his first book. While many Germans disagreed with Thilo’s thesis, surprisingly, there were plenty who did agree with him. Horst Seehofer, member of the German Bundestag, felt inspired by Thilo Sarrazin and boasted last year that he would fight each new immigrant from a “foreign culture…to the last man, to the last bullet.”
Now that Germany’s worries have shifted and the euro crisis has become the country’s latest pain, Thilo Sarrazin tried to convince his audience at the Berlin event that Germany’s neighbours are after their savings – and that they will get them!
The reality though looks different. While other EU countries, including Ireland, are suffering as a result of the recession, Germany has been able to thrive. The German Government is currently enjoying negative interest rates on bonds and unemployment is on the decrease while the number of exports is growing.
In Thilo’s view these developments are down to the hard-working and smart Germans. He wishes that Germany had never given up its prized Deutschmark or, to make the Euro work, that all other Europeans would finally cop on and become Germans themselves. “Thinking ahead and rationality are no major drivers in this society,” is his verdict about Italy and Greece “has not changed much since the Ottoman Empire a hundred and eighty years ago.”
Is Thilo not forgetting about the Maastricht rules on excessive government budget deficits, which the Germans and the French were the first to break? How about the forty percent of German exports which go to other Eurozone countries? How about the German carmakers, such as Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW, saving millions on transaction costs due to the removal of old currency risks?
As the German saying goes, there is always a different side to each medal. Germany, admittedly, did get many things right and is now stronger than ever; but this is also largely down to joining the Euro and embracing the possibilities the single currency holds for each individual home economy.
“Don’t talk about the war” – Another saying; not by the Germans, but about the Germans.
The eyes of many Germans will roll upon suggesting that Germany continues to be haunted by the atrocious Holocaust crimes committed by their ancestors.
Yet, upon digging deeper into the public response (including Thilo Sarrazin’s) to the economic crisis, one ought to notice the connection of Germany’s “special relationship” with Israel and its view on Europe’s economy.
Germany continues to pay off its guilt by supplying submarines to Israel. To this very day, employees of the Axel Springer Verlag, who publishes Germany’s bestselling tabloid Bild, have to sign a declaration to support the reconciliation between Germany and the Jewish people. Many German school kids are sent on trips to Israel, the so-called “Holy Land”, and in April the German magazine Der Spiegel proudly declared how much Israelis love Berlin. Who doesn’t love the hip Berlin these days? Is this really news? No. It is part of the German attitude of paying off one’s guilt silently.
Anyone in Germany who raises his voice in favour of putting a halt to the German solidarity to Israel gets harshly criticised and even risks being deemed an anti-Semite.
Germany’s Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass has recently been slaughtered by the media for writing an innocent poem about Israeli policies, whereas Thilo Sarrazin’s book is merely deemed “not as bad as the previous” by Der Spiegel.
Germany has been the “bad boy” throughout the initial decades after the Holocaust; it has rebuilt itself as a strong economy and the German attitude, handed down intergenerational, continues to believe in “paying off one’s own guilt.”
Germany requires a strong European economy more than any other country. A successful and swift solution for the crisis is needed – not only to build a strong home economy, but to build a positive national identity, removed from the dark past and connected to European success.
Germany has presented itself as a newer and better country in the decades after the war and feels disappointed in other European countries that are making it hard for Germany to continue its reign as goody two-shoes.