German wrath on Greece slips into a racialist mode reminiscent of the dark old days

By Professor Christos D. Katsetos
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Yet another week has passed by, which was marked by a display of paroxysmal manifestations about the Greek financial debacle in the German media.  The crisis is real and the utter disappointment and resentment of Greece’s European partners –Germany included– is justified to a large measure. But the German wrath has gone too far. 

And so it came last week’s edition of the Munich-based “Focus” weekly magazine bearing the sensationalist title “Betrüger in der Euro-Familie” (“Swindlers/defrauders in the European Family” — “Απατεώνες/καταχραστές στην Ευρωπαϊκή οικογένεια“) on its cover page along side with an appalling image depicting Aphrodite of Milos (Venus di Milo) giving “the finger” whilst being wrapped, from the waist down, in the Greek flag [Focus, vol. 22, issue number 8, February 2010].

In fairness, this is beyond poor taste political satire. It is an insult to the Greek flag and the dignity of the Greek nation. But reading between the lines of the Focus publication one may also discern certain disturbing entrenched perceptions of dormant cultural racism traceable to the ideological tenets of Alfred Rosenberg’s _Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts_, (1934).

In many ways, the title “Betrüger in der Euro-Familie” brings to mind the words used by a ruthless villain, General Karl de Suire, the infamous “butcher of Kalavryta“, to characterize his Greek victims: “Ein Volk von Nichtstuenden, Schieber und Korrupteure” (Λαός από απολίτιστους αεριτζήδες και διαφθορείς — an uncivilized people [full] of racketeers and corrupters).

Quoting from the 1949 essay by W. R. Loader entitled “Greeks Ancient and Modern” published in _Greece&Rome_ (1949) 18:121-125:

“During the recent German occupation of Greece the occupying authority published a number of brochures in which it was argued that the modern Greeks have nothing whatever in common with the ancient Greeks. These brochures were circulated among German troops with the object of stifling any sympathy or admiration which the ordinary soldier might feel for the present-day Greeks as descendants of the ancient Athenians and Spartans. (It is pleasant to record that that object was not always achieved.)

In part, this propaganda was a revival of Fallmerayer’s theory that the Greeks, as a race, vanished in the Middle Ages, their blood being at first diluted and then swamped by that of Slav invaders. It was also in the line of Nazi party doctrine, since Rosenberg in Der Mythus des o. Jahrhunderts contended that the modern Greek was merely a feeble Levantine who had, in common with the ancient Greeks, only the name of Hellene.”

[W. R. Loader. Greeks Ancient and Modern. _Greece and Rome_ (1949), 18:121-125 Cambridge University Press doi: 10.1017/S0017383500010639]

On a more sober note, I should like to quote my esteemed colleague Dr. Marios Evriviades, Political Scientist at Panteion University of Athens:

“The Greeks may be all the Germans say (and worse) but in their history they [the Greeks] neither invented gas ovens nor did they put them in use 24 hrs a day for five years in the middle of the 20th century. These same Greeks, incidentally, were the first to inflict on fascists their first organized defeat when Europe lived in fear and despair.”

Contemporary German politicians and journalists, who are amongst the heirs of the German nation at-large, carry the heavy burden of history for the abominable crimes committed (by their fathers and grandfathers) against Greek citizens (Jews and Christians alike) during World War II. As such, they ought to be particularly careful not to slip into a mode of “romantic” racialist narratives and morbid ideations, which have plagued Germany’s latest dark chapter in history. 

Christos D. Katsetos, MD, PhD, FRCPath
Drexel University College of Medicine

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  1. Thank you Mr.Christos D. Katsetos!

    People like you should really help, telling the truth worldwide….

  2. Focus reversed
    re-edited frontpage picture and text of Focus magazine
    Βασιλης Γλαυκος (bilwander) 5 Μαρτιου 2010

    Focus reversed
    Despite an abundance of positive geo-economic and social dynamics, Greece did manage to produce a huge fiscal deficit after the last 35 years of its latest republic. Ironic but totally true, it’s an epic failure of democratic institutions by a self catastrophic people, as it proves so, within the historic birthplace of democracy.

    For the last few months, the world media have been giving the Greek crisis an accurate coverage, albeit a selectively focused one; but that’s a habit of the mass media in general rather than any special treatment for Greece. Focusing on a fallen economy is as easy as shooting a sitting duck.

    In its 22nd February 2010 edition, German magazine FOCUS hosted an article about the Greek crisis and the German concerns regarding a potential bailout of the also troubled and so called PIGS. The magazine’s front cover was depicting a photoshoped statue of Aphrodite of Milos gesticulating an insult to the Eurofamily (well, citing the word “family” while referring to the EU and even more so to the eurozone currency, is just an oxymoron, if not the understanding of a moron).

    No matter how accurate and/or fair one-sided views are, they rarely illuminate the bigger picture.

    Due to its relatively small size and geopolitical location, Greece has been given the special blessing of living under a permanent Turkish military threat manifested with daily violations of Greek airspace by fighter jets and by disputes over Greek sovereignty rights on certain islands and areas in the Aegean sea. Consequently, Greece is forced to spend huge amounts on defence budgets reaching 4.30 % of GDP, the highest among the EU countries (Gemany 1.50, UK 1.20) or even USA (4.03) and yet much less than its potential intruder, Turkey (5.30) a country seven times bigger than Greece.
    (source CIA factbook figures as of 2005-2006)

    In this volatile game of geopolitics, the bosses of Euro”family” have always been playing the major role in cultivating and manipulating an unguaranteed stability in the area, thus creating market conditions for their influential military industries to flourish. German defence corporations in particular have been major contractors with the Greek (and Turkish) army for more than two decades. . And as it proves, the rules of fair play supposed to be followed and protected by the elected European leaders at least within the “family”, is simply another big joke.

    One of countless scandals in Greece involves millions of euros smuggled under the table by Siemens and siphoned to the leading Greek political parties of New Democracy and PASOK as “commissions” or direct bribes for wining certain contracts worth billions. The key person (a Siemens top executive of Greek origin and German citizenship) involved in the plot, escaped arrest and trial in Greece and currently shelters in Germany where he is protected by German law.

    Citations in the sucoF image refer to some of the German businesses in Greece during the recent years. Among them military ships and submarines, tanks and missiles as well as the notorious C4i surveillance system supposed for Olympics’ security, a system that never existed in reality as anything else but a huge fraud; and last but not least, OTE, the Greek national organization of telecommunications modernized by German companies funded with Greek funds only to be bought (30% stake) soon after, by another German company through obscure procedures.

    All these sum up to hundreds of billions of euros and, under other circumstances, could have been more than enough to balance the Greek budget deficit and even drastically alleviate the external debt.
    One thing is for sure, those billions were added to the profits of German industrialists, bankers and intermediaries, Greek corrupted politicians and civil servants. They also created a lifelong mega-debt per capita and a socioeconomic turmoil for the man in the street.

    But the man in the street has also his own share of responsibility for the crisis through the appointments made with political or nepotist criteria in the public sector. Thousands of low or zero productivity posts were awarded to certain people with provocatively high wages. The total wreck was complete with wide spread systematic tax evasions while consumption expenses fueled by high risk loans and backed by arrogant socioeconomic attitudes were proudly sported out as a normal and hardly quitting -even today- way of living.

    No doubt Greece is a deeply corrupted country that deserves it’s crisis. However it always take two to tango, the poor and the rich, the bribed and the briber. And it simply takes a reversed focus on the issue for the corrupt motives and the real suc of to be revealed on either sides…

    Βασιλης Γλαυκος (bilwander) 5 Μαρ 2010

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