Some time ago, I’ve published in my blog an article under the German headline “Die spinnen die Greichen- oder: Warum wir alle lernen müssen, ein bisschen weniger Götter und Banker zu sein!“ – which more or less literally does mean in English: “Crazy Greeks – or why we all have to learn to be less bankers and gods!” in English.
The reason for this entry was not so much the actual election, won by the left-wing Syriza-party, but my own deep and not always easy relation to Greece and it’s people as a person, mainly grown up and socialized in Germany.
Going out from the actual controversy between both countries, it seems – superficially seen – as if there is some sort of natural antagonism, a gene or some sort of a biological antipathy between both nations (and maybe also between it’s people). But is this really so easy?
Well, the modern results of epigenetics are a interesting field for theories and speculations, but it’s also clear, that there are not one or two genes, which define a certain characteristic. It’s rather a extremely complicated and recursive three dimensional game of thousands and thousands of genes, which – together with thousands and thousands of social and cultural factors – form a pattern difficult to describe or even to predict. One day, there maybee will be found a “prussian murderer Gene” (but not all Germans are Prussians!) among the Germans, or a “trickster and insurgent” gene among the Greeks, but so what! Does there even exist such a thing like “the Greeks” or “the Germans”, or is this just a demagogic fiction of ambitious researches and politicians? Does not each individual deserves it, to be perceived beyond its ethnical/national “dispositions” as a human beeing, with it’s individual and unique history?
If doing so, genes and background (or should I say pedigree) lose dramatically in relevance.
For sure, you could – and that’s what I’ve done in my German article – write much about the not always beneficial exchange of ideas and values between both countries. It have been ultimately “the Germans”, who – together with the help of Bavarian officials, the first Greek King Otho of Wittelsbach and his Antiquity-loving father Ludwig I. of Bavaria – infiltrated “the Greeks” with the fantastic(al) idea, they would be direct descendants of antique philosophers and gods, for whom “normal” rules of “ordinary” people do not apply. It were “the Greeks” pleased by so much attendance and sympathy, who adopted this idea, internalised it and spread it out to the Greek diasporas all over the world.
For sure, it were also “German” occupation forces, who persecuted, tortured and killed or let “simply” starve to dead thousands and thousands of Greeks to break the heroic but not very “reasonable” Greek resistance. But since when resistance against occupation is “reasonable”? Since when war is a human affair? “War is not done!” my Prussian great-grandmother said, and given the cruelty and insanity committed in every war, you only can agree. There is no “Just war”, and regarding the immense suffering that war brings over people, there never will be one!
And yes – even if most Germans will brand me openly or behind closed doors as traitor for the following words – there does exist an open “question of German war-reparations”, not only on a legal level, but also on a ethical one. At the same moment, it’s absolutely obvious, that mutual accusations, revenge and vengeance thinking produces only new conflicts, fears and injuries. Mutual justice or understanding, however, they do not promote.
I will therefore not go down to the level of mutual offsets, hostilities, legal maneuvering and contempt. It’s useless.
The crucial point to think about is, how to organize help for those people in Greece who no longer know what to give to eat to their children, where to stay druing the next night or get their vitally needed diabetes medications. In other words: We all have to stop arguing and to think about how we can give Greece and the Greeks back a future worth living, without neglected the interests of other countries and their populations.
For achieving this goal, neither Greek demands for German reparations, nor constructing or maintaining new and old “feindbild”, or sticking to the utopia that debts does not have to be repaid are definitely the wrong way.
We must learn to trust us again, as a person, rather than as „the Greeks“ or „the Germans“ and without setting off each other’s bills at every little opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less.
If somebody’s interested reading the German article about the „Crazy Greeks“, here’s the link: