Why Germans are again being heaped with criticism comparing them to Nazis – and how they should handle this

A prewar Nazi poster asserts: Before: Unemployment,

hopelessness, desolation, strikes, lockouts. Today: Work,

joy, discipline, camaraderie. Give the Fuhrer your vote!

Is there any way for today's Germany to calmly react to

being compared to the National Socialist Party - the Nazis?



Die Zeit, Germany

Nazi Baggage Complicates Germany's New Role as the 'America of Europe'


"Germany is gradually taking on the role in Europe that the U.S. has long played on the global level: As the country that uses and occasionally misuses its power, is to blame for everything, is supposed to save everyone, and which has to endure insults for how it goes about doing it. … But there was one thing the Americans could never be accused of: sending six million Jews to their deaths and plunging half the world into war."


By Bernd Ulrich


Translated By Stephanie Martin


February 3, 2012


Germany - Die Zeit - Original Article (German)

Francesco Schettino, captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia: When a German newspaper described him as 'typically Italian', an Italian newspaper owned by Silvio Berlusconi retorted, to paraphrase, that Italians may have to answer for Schettino, but Germans still haven't made up for the Holocaust. Such is the burden that today's Germans continue to carry.


FINANCIAL TIMES VIDEO: Growing German economic influence comes at a political cost, Jan. 27, 00:05:21WindowsVideo

Il Giornale recently wrote, “A noi Schettino, a voi Auschwitz, i.e.: “We have Schettino, you have Auschwitz.” With this, the Italian newspaper responded to a similarly subtle criticism from Der Spiegel Online of the cowardly Captain of the Costa Concordia, who it described as “typically Italian.” What Il Giornale meant was: "Germans should shut their mouths. You still have to answer for the Holocaust!"


Now, one might say that Il Giornale is a right-wing populist newspaper run by Berlusconi no less, and therefore not to be taken seriously. We might also reassure ourselves with the fact that Nazi comparisons are from time to time directed at Germans. Lately, however, the comparisons have been piling up. During a reading in Portugal, thin-skinned East German writer Ingo Schulze was recently asked whether Germans would now achieve through the euro what they failed to achieve with tanks, namely the domination of Europe. In Greece we hear the same thoughts expressed on a daily basis - only far more dramatically.


Elsewhere, the charge is more elegantly packaged. Take, for instance, when Germany’s current policy of economic austerity is compared to that of Reich Chancellor Brüning, who had a successor named Adolph Hitler. Germany’s “Sonderweg" [special path], is mentioned with great regularity, as when Merkel’s government refuses to print as much money as others are demanding. And where did the oft-cited “Sonderweg” end? In Auschwitz, of course. And so we come full circle.


Germany is the U.S. of Europe - but with a different history


It doesn’t take much to figure out why so many Nazi comparisons are being made right now: For the first time since 1945, Germany is stepping up with all its power, not because it wants to, but because the European debt crisis has made the fiscally strongest into the most politically powerful. Germany is now profoundly intervening in the domestic affairs of others.


The country is gradually taking on the role in Europe that the U.S. has long played on the global level: As the country that uses and occasionally misuses its power, is to blame for everything, is supposed to save everyone, and which has to endure insults for how it goes about doing it. What evil hasn't been imputed to the Americans? The CIA was behind every evil, and Americans were constantly being accused of imperialism.


But there was one thing the Americans could never be accused of: sending six million Jews to their deaths and plunging half the world into war. In the case of Germany, ranting against the leading power that is at once quite understandable, human and often justified, very often takes on an entirely different pallor, which serves to put an end to any discussion or serious exchange.


So how should we as Germans deal with this? Ingo Schulze was self-critical, writing that he was outraged and offended. That was probably the wrong reaction simply because that is precisely what his questioner hoped to achieve. Secondly, it’s probably also wrong to respond with German arrogance, the way CSU/CDU Bundestag leader Volker Kauder did, when he proclaimed that “Europe would speak German,” … omitting only the word “again.” Peer Steinbrück babbled on in a similarly martial tone when he suggested sending the “cavalry” to Switzerland. Politicians from a country that once sent its “cavalry” all over Europe (with the exception of Switzerland) should really refrain from making such comments.




Die Welt, Germany: Euro Crisis Turns Germany into Europe's United States
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: Goldman Sachs and 'Human Sacrifice' to the Money God

El Pais, Spain: Occupy Wall Street: Will it Help or Hinder Reelection of Obama?
Wochenzeitung, Switzerland: Swiss Occupy Movement Too Respectful of Authority

Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: 'Occupy' is the 'Mega-Event of the Century'
Mainichi Shimbun?, Japan: 'Occupy Wall Street' Threatens to Divide American Society

Kayhan, Iran: Wall Street Uprisings Herald Victory of Islam and Iran!
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: Like Americans, Germans Must Stand Up at Last!

La Jornada, Mexico: Jobs' Career Showed How Capitalism was Meant to Work
Die Welt, Germany: Wall Street Occupied by Tea Party of 'Generation-Twitter'

Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy: How Finance Sector Greed Tramples on Human Rights
FTD, Germany: America's Economic Crash Had Little to do with September 11
Estadao, Brazil: To Shorten Crisis, U.S., E.U. Should Look to Latin America
Frankfurter Rundschau: Obama's Middle Road is Fatal
La Jornada, Mexico: The 'Grand Debt' of U.S. Families
Jornal Do Brasil, Brazil: American Default and the End of 'Zero Risk'
The Telegraph, U.K.: World Needs America to Come to its Senses
El Pais, Spain: Playing Chicken is the World's Newest Sport
Mainichi Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Must Prevent Another 'Made in U.S.' Disaster
Yomiori Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Lawmakers Should 'Stop Playing Political Games'
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: The U.S. and Soviets: Pyramid Builders to Raiders
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: 'Radical' Republicans Threaten U.S. with Ruin
Tiscali Notizie, Italy: The Fiscal Decline of the 'Apocalypse'
News, Switzerland: Notion: 'Pay Politicians Based on Performance'
Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria: Debt Ceiling Attack By Republicans 'Backfires'
Gazeta, Russia: America's Astonishing 'Battle for the Ceiling'
People's Daily, China: U.S. Game of Chicken Threatens Creditors and Economy
Die Zeit, Germany: U.S. Risks 'Plunging World' Into New Financial Crisis
O Globo, Brazil: Global Economy Hangs on 'Mood' of U.S. Voters
The Telegraph, U.K.: Down on the Fourth of July: The United States of Gloom
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: For Americans, a Dour Independence Day
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Who Cares about the U.S. Economy?
Folha, Brazil: U.S. Conservatives Threaten to Plunge U.S. into 'Lost Decade'



Finally, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be intimidated by Nazi comparisons. And the word “Sonderweg” shouldn’t bring the German government to respond with an even more truculent “you-asked-for-it” tone. Especially since, as we all know, Auschwitz is regularly used to gain the moral high ground in political conflicts. Friendly nonchalance and occasional rejection of criticism - without taking offense, are the most sensible responses. And whether on questions of finance or military intervention, to continue the debate on substantive issues.


For quite a while, Germany’s new role will continue to result in a proliferation of Nazi comparisons. Like it or not, we will have to bear it and wait until it passes. However, in such stoicism there is also a serious problem. That has to do with the German historical paradox, which may be described as follows: The only way Germans can prevent their past from repeating itself is by never being absolutely sure that it won’t. That is why Germans, particularly politicians, can never completely set aside their armor - not against accusations from the outside, and not against fits of self doubt. A sore spot remains. 



So what do we do now? Should we simply ask others to cut the Nazi crap or insult us - but in any conceivable way other than that one? Yes, we could do that. Germans might also admit that we want to be loved (which isn't bad) much more than the French or British, who already do such a good job of loving themselves. But Germans cannot deny who they are out of the sheer need for love - if only because the others would find that even more contemptible.


Ultimately, a certain coolness of exterior must be combined with a particularly high degree of historical sensitivity. Anti-Semitism, neo-Nazi terrorism, historical amnesia, attacks of arrogance - these are the real dangers and temptations.


Germans must be very brave - and sensitive.




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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US Feb. 8, 11:45pm]


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