On March 12th 1938 – illegally and with no reference to existing treaties – the Nazi Reich strolled into Austria and declared a ‘joining-together’ or Anschluss of the two nations. (Clue: Hitler – an Austrian – was running Nazi Germany).
Later in the Summer of that year, a big hit hit around the Berlin cabaret scene was Ich will mit mein Baby ein Anschluss Haben…a double-entendre roughly meaning “I’d like to shag my girfriend”.
Since I first posted about this in 2011, all the sites referring to the song have been removed by the BundesRepublik. So sadly you now have only my word for it.
Anyway, fast forward from 1938 to 2015, and that same innate German sensitivity is still to the fore.
Next year, the BundesRepublik – as a tribute to the 70th anniversary of little Dolfi’s death – will be issuing a new edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
And in that same year, it is intended that a new jolly tourist attraction will open: the complete reconstruction, right down to the last poisoned dog of Hitler’s 1945 Bunker.
Also this year of our Lord 2015, on being asked to consider reparations for the starvation, executions and plunder they visited upon Greece after 1941, the German response was “The likelihood is zero” – this from CDU luminary Sigmar Gabriel, Angela Merkel’s vice-chancellor.
So no guilt there, then. However, these are the facts:
Having subdued Greek resistance in a matter of weeks in 1941 – after they’d held out for months against Mussolini’s Italian army – the occupation that followed was brutal even by Nazi standards: 40,000 civilians starved to death in Athens alone.
The demand for reparations today focuses on two clear issues: first, a war loan of 476 million Reichsmarks that the Bank of Greece was forced to make to the Nazis – the Greeks were made to pay for their own occupation, they being Untermenchen an’ all; and second compensation for the destruction and suffering caused by the occupation.
No matter how many circles Wolfie makes in his wheelchair the loan was never repaid. Instead, the Germans got the bulk of all postwar Marshall aid..while we – the Brits who alone had held out against the Nazis – found ourselves saddled with a gigantic debt to the US. You see, we Brits have the same Special Relationship with the Americans that you Greeks have with the Germans. Perhaps this is where the Anglo-Greek affinity lies. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Today, the unpaid German debt would total €11bn….before interest. A Greek commission of inquiry last year determined that Germany owes Greece a total of around €160bn – to cover the loan and the cost of damage from the occupation.
The sanctimony, self-pity, and hypocritical Puritanism of the German élite remains infinite. Earlier this week, they had the audacity to condemn Syriza’s claim to this money as (to quote one German tabloid) “the worst kind of opportunism and money-extraction with menaces from a bankrupt nation”. In reality, the scot-free German escape from any financial or human responsibility for the havoc they wreaked after 1939 has been an issue in Greek, British, French, Dutch, Polish, Russian and Israeli politics for nigh on 70 years.
Is it perhaps about time that the equally Holier-than-thou USA accepted the iniquity in all this, and decided to do something to redress the injustice? Of course it is. But the holding of breath re this one is not recommended.