During the last months it appeared as if Germany’s image that was tediously reestablished 70 years after the end of the Second World War, is in the process of deterioration in large parts of Europe. However German politicians still believe that they are doing everything right. It becomes apparent in the way in which they are dealing with the crisis in Ukraine and Greece but also in the manner in which they appear towards other states and give advice.
Now, one eventually wonders how can it be that the Germans are perceived as arrogant, dogmatic technocratic and stubborn. What are the reasons in the end?
One aspect for sure is that the economic power helped Germany to its outstanding position at Europe’s front. Germany is believed to be rich. Many people hold the belief that its wealth and economic influence has not only been gained by effort alone but also by beneficial historic constellations after the Second World War. The swift provisions of its war debts may have played a crucial role as well as the launch of the Marshall Plan that pumped money into Germany’s base material industries and into its medium-sized enterprises.
It is not decisive at all of whether or not Greece has met the financial criteria for accessing the monetary union at that time. It is a fact that Europe needs to stand together now and that the Euro is an identity-forming currency that will leave its stamp on our future in the world.
Germany has to wake up to its current image and has to discard its self-inflicted leading position in Europe, otherwise it will risk its future, the future of the European Union, the Euro and especially the future of generations to come.
The Roman saying “oderint dum metuant” – may they hate me if only they do fear me – by Lucius Accius cannot be Germany’s maxim for the future. It does not mean however that Germany should start to back down in everything. Neither does it mean that it should let itself be blackmailed by its Nazi past. Put plainly it means that the Germans should for a start show more humility and understanding towards people living in other countries.
How do you see this?
About the author:
Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…