Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Time to cut the Germans some slack?



These days I am proud to be a German. I am saying this not because of my country’s economic and therefore growing political prowess; that would be childish posturing. No, I am proud to be a German because of my compatriots’ admirably serene reaction to the relentless abuse leveled against them by those who mismanaged their own affairs and now expect to be rescued by the Germans who had managed their affairs well.
Night after night, Germans see on television their chancellor portrayed as a born-again Hitler by a moronic rabble in the streets of Greece, Spain, Italy and Cyprus, and in some of major newspapers we read this as well. It hasn’t escaped the Germans’ attention that they were daily targets of hateful slogans during the election campaign in Italy, probably the one European nation they have traditionally loved the most. They know that Silvio Berlusconi, while still prime minister of Italy, publicly questioned the suitability of one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s body parts for sexual purposes, using a word unprintable even in the German media and most definitely in the prim American press.
Many German friends of mine admit in private that they find it hard to contain their annoyance when reading the inexorably hostile columns by New York Times contributor Paul Krugman, still, they manage to reign in their fury. Others, and here I include myself, are perplexed and saddened that even the conservative American media are curiously restrained in their support or, God forbid, admiration for Merkel’s solitary stamina in the face of a frightening international crisis her government has not caused.
Why is it, I wonder, that I have read nowhere the long overdue profile of this Eastern German pastor’s daughter and scientist who, while holding Europe together in truly Herculean fashion, still goes shopping and fixes her husband’s breakfast and sandwiches before sending him off to work at Humboldt University in Berlin like the good German Hausfrau she is? What happened to journalistic craftsmanship in America? Is there no writer left capable of tackling this fascinating topic tongue-in-cheek but with empathy and, by all means, critical mind? Personalities of much less human fascination receive more attention than she. Is this because she is, Heaven help us, a German?
Have journalistic values become so warped that the industrious, the fiscally prudent and therefore powerful and successful are no longer deemed worthy of some slack? How come that when Europe’s plight is being mentioned on American talk shows everyday life in Germany or, for that matter, Austria, the Netherlands or Finland – the few sane ones in a madhouse – never seems to merit in-depth reporting? How is it that no American reporter goes around asking the average Hans Müller or Liese Schmidt how they feel about their invariable vilification in the streets of Athens and Nikosia, Madrid and Rome?
Do Hans, Liese, Otto or Helga boycott Greek or Italian restaurants in Frankfurt or Munich or pour Italian or Greek wines into the gullies of Hamburg or Berlin the way American innkeepers did with French wines when they felt that the United States was unfairly maligned by the French? Do Germans stay away from their beloved Italy at vacation time? Do they accost visitors or residents from Europe’s troubled south in Stuttgart or Cologne?
The answer to all these last questions is a resounding “NO!”
And this is why, far from being a strident nationalist, I am very proud of this generation of Germans at this very moment.

Uwe Siemon-Netto, the former religious affairs editor of United Press International, has been an international journalist for 57 years, covering North America, Vietnam, the Middle East and Europe for German publications. Dr. Siemon-Netto currently directs the League of Faithful Masks and Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life in Capistrano Beach, California. 


  1. Dear Sir,
    At this very moment .... you wrote
    I would rather say you should be less ashamed at this very moment because you are not physically killing people but just destroying nations.
    Do you really believe that what you do for troubled European countries stems from solidarity and kindness? Each day that the crisis continues you are recapitalizing all your debt with negative or zero interest rate, while all the others pay ~ 5% so you are even increasing the gap. What would be your interest rate and your competitiveness outside Euro?

    I am Greek and am not talking about Greece because Greece was so badly run by politicians and ourselves that it does not have much arguments.

    I would talk about Cyprus which was fatally wounded by the Greek PSI and its exposure to the Greek Market.
    a) Cyprus and all small countries had to create a niche market for them to be successful in a unified monetarily Europe.
    b)The effect of the Greek PSI to Cyprus was all known 2 years now to German officials when they decided to go ahead with the PSI. Yet, they discovered the nice story with Russian money to blame Cyprus.
    c) Cyprus is completely destroyed at the moment
    d) Cyprus is heavily disrespected for having relations with Black money. Actually, who is talking.... All scandals in Greece concern bribery from German companies (all of them admitted the bribery). It takes 2 to tango you know and religion would not discriminate the sin on both sides. Austria is the only country that is not disclosing details about depositors in its banks. Shall we talk about Switzerland, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein?
    e) At the same time Cyprus has proven gas reserves and is being openly threatened by Turkey who wants a share on it. I am sure that Germany will not move its finger in any case. So much for solidarity.

    In other words, Mr. Scheuble decided to ruin a country just for giving an example to all the rest that bailouts are not healthy...
    If you compare this with the way Germany was treated in 1953 when it defaulted after killing millions of people (not to mention 1991 when no repayments were requested by many nations that were triggered by the reunification of Germany) then there is no ground for discussion. Imagine how you would treat Cyprus if they had committed such crimes as yours....

    2 more points from my side :
    1. Euro was created mainly by Germany and France. It was an admitted mistake that it was created without any strict mechanisms of controlling states and central banks. When you create something faulty then you take the responsibility of your actions and mistakes.

    2. I do not care much if Mrs. Merkel is modest and hard working. You can find very hard working fascists or nationalists. They will not work for Europe's unification. Once again you are splitting Europe in a suicidal way. It is in your nature I guess.

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    1. Well, Sir, I am surprised that you, as a Greek, are neglecting one significant aspect of this lamentable situation. Germany is a democracy. This word is rooted in the Greek vocables δῆμος and κράτος. The German δῆμος will vote in September. How much, do you think, the German δῆμος would be inclined to reelect Angela Merkel if she gave in to Cyprus or anybody else, after watching, night after night, the demented rabble in the streets of Athens, and now Nikosia, portraying her as a 21st-century Hitler? Logic, another fine word of Greek origin, should tell you that this is not the way to get to people's pocketbooks.Even you yourself can't refrain from such irrational allusions. So let me do my own alluding to your country's past, but in a positive way. Democracy and logic are fine concepts. Alas, they were born millennia ago when Greeks thought and acted logically, which also meant taking realities into account.

  3. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your answer.
    As I told you I do not have many arguments for Greece as I believe that we carry a very historical past but we are far behind it. Not that the whole world is characterized by our ancestors' principles and values - no. The whole world is in a slippery path far away from these values. But as Greek I look to my country and I hope that next generation of Greeks will make us again proud.

    As far as your comments are concerned may I respond :

    a) I agree that now Merkel does not have an alternative. The winds of Aiolos have been released and there is no turning back, I believe. The end of a marriage, a friendship starts in our minds and then happens in the physical world. A German will not feel the same solidarity and care for a Greek like a New Yorker feels for someone from LA anymore and vice versa.

    b)As far as democracy is concerned, let me remind you that also in 1953 the countries that decided to offer another chance to Germany (after 2 consecutive wars) had also democratic regimes.

    The difference probably is that their leaders were at another level - much higher intellectually, much more visionary, much more strategic - than the current German shortsighted leaders.

    If this is not the reason, then it has to be each nation's tendency towards good or bad. But as I am not a racist, I believe that you should blame your leaders. Heavily.

    With respect

  4. Well, Greece might have been better off with their own currency the drachma which might have made their currency cheaper. Greece is at a level worst than Miss, in the States which is not that great. Also, lots of Greeks don't forgive the fourth crusade where the Franks, a German people sack Constantinople, this explains the historical dislike of Germans among Greeks who are Orthodox and consider the Roman Empire there height. .