This blog entry was first published about a year ago on Medium, and I’ve wanted to revisit it as we are around of the anniversary of the spike of Greek debt crisis.
Noteworthy introduction: where is Greece, and all of us, today, a year after this blog post was initially published?
In short – fucked up beyond all recognition. Greek populist ruling party which won the elections at the height of debt crisis promising to Greek people debt will be forgiven by creditors and all will be fine, Syriza, played all of their cards in order to “allow public” to change their mind – in months after this blog post was initially published on Medium, there was a referendum where Greek voters had a chance to vote for making a deal with creditors instead of trying to bail on their debt and there were even consequential elections where Syriza won the elections again despite the obvious – that they have screwed up their voters, while promising they will save their voters from the nearly impossible debt while screwing up the creditors.
The deal probably ended up to be better than defaulting on the debt, but not by much. Greek economy burdened by the debt but also incompetent government is struggling probably more than ever. Whole Syriza’s performance actually made deal with the creditors even worse than what was offered to Greece in the months ahead of the whole show, hence people of Greece are living harder than they would if Syriza did their job or has never came to power.
On the other hand, despite being a good player (and payer of the debt) according to the terms of the deal, creditors still refuse to ease the conditions of the deal for Greece. And I estimate they will continue to refuse until less populist political option is elected in some future elections in Greece, options which would actually be able to negotiate with the creditors instead of antagonizing them and antagonizing the public against the creditors.
But, in the end, Greece (luckily for it) wasn’t treated same as Germany after World War II. And despite what pundits would like you to believe, it’s actually a good thing. Why? The original post explaining that follows below, or after the click:
Oh yes, let’s please treat Greece the same way Germany was treated
Socialists, more or less delusional people or simply completely sane people who feel sympathetic to Greece lately express request to treat Greece and its debt the same way German debt and war damages were treated after World War II.
I say to that — oh yes, let’s please treat Greece same way Germany was treated. It is not so stupid idea at all, but the outcome would be slightly different than these people expect.
So, how exactly was Germany treated?
You might remember some key facts about Germany during World War II from history lessons in the school, unless you were home schooled by parents who cherish nazi values. You know, that war which almost eradicated Jewish population in Europe, but also resulted in the great declines of number of living people who were also either Gypsies, Slavic, British, French— or simply put — not Germans — or often even Germans but with the wrong “count of blood cells”.
And legally elected, socially aware German government of that time was responsible for wast majority of these. Germany got some significant support at the beginning of the war from Soviet Russia, but that BFF relationship got slightly colder when Germans decided should attempt to quickly push Russian borders towards Asia. That pushed Soviets away from alliance with Germany, into the alliance with much less probable allies — western European powers and USA.
Hell broke loose, lot of people died, lot of countries suffered half decade of occupation — my home country included, and also Greece.
Germany was defeated and it was no easy task. There was a lot of collateral — winner of the war was actually a group of winners, split in two groups of military powers with diametrically opposite view of how the world should function.
Winners agreed over one thing only — that Germany should suffer for all it did during World War II, but also suffer at least a bit because it lost the previous Great War.
Germany was split in two parts, where western part was occupation zone of the Western powers and east solely under Soviet control. See the map here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied-occupied_Germany
At first, this agreement was called by its real name — Allied-occupied Germany.
Because it was just that — foreign occupation of a previously sovereign country which, obviously, deserved it. In the first years of this arrangement, Germany wasn’t ran in any way by Germans. Germans were there to work and earn for their overlords. In West Germany less, in East Germany much more.
The eastern winners, Soviets, decided to punish Germany the old-fashioned way — squeeze them out for anything they have in the worse way possible. In the following decades, East-Germans (still today sometimes pejoratively called “Ossies” by the “Wessies”) couldn’t move freely anywhere outside of Soviet Union. They were separated from their friends and the families in the West part of occupied Germany by the wall of brick and mortar and the barbed wire. One of the best and most secure jobs “Ossie” could get in that period was working or simply reporting in to the “public service” — pure Soviet-style people’s torture police called Stasi.
In the next decade Soviets actually concluded that Germans are really good and systematic people, not only when it comes to industrial production or killing other nations or races, but also when it comes to the policing of their own people, arguably the worse way possible. Stasi soon became not so much Soviet, but native East-German police force, not even slightly less rough than the Soviet model.
West Germans got off better. They were still occupied. But they had freedom of movement and western allies decided for occupation to go in a way “better teach a man how to fish instead of giving him food”. After few years after Germany was bombed like hell by US forces, reconstruction effort financed by that same US of A started and an influx of US$ came in. So much dollars that West German industry was rebuilt in few decades like 1940s never happened.
Here comes the moment where people I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph are right — yes, German war damages towards western allies (from both wars) were definitely reprogrammed, together with its foreign debt (that huge influx of allied money). But they tend to ignore what I wrote about in the last three paragraphs.
So, yes, let’s now imagine how it would look if we treat Greece and (West) Germany the same.
First things first — to treat anyone like Germany was treated after World War II, we have to establish the guilt. Germans did absolutely horrible war crimes. I am taking for granted that socialists and Greek sympathizers claim than that Greece made horrible financial crimes. First of all, that is probably true. Second: even if it’s not, if we talk of treating them the same, let’s treat them the same — like petty criminals.
So, we assume Greeks elected a government which committed horrible financial crimes. What happened to Germany for committing horrible war crimes? First, Germany was split in two parts. That might seem a bit radical, but seriously, if we treat them the same let’s think how we can split Greece between creditors and what social-economic experiment to perform on each part of the newly split country.
Further on… They have lost their war-machinery. For the next 50 years, German army (again by the template, East-German even more than West-German) was practically disbanded, it became a joke. Greece should, hence, lose the control of their monetary machinery. Ministry of finance should be exclusively controlled by the Allied Creditors in this scenario, and Greeks would keep control of stuff which is not at all related with finance — meaning retirements, salaries in public sector, any kind of spending and investment would be controlled by Allied Creditors. Place for Greeks to decide how they would live would come down to the ministry of agriculture, at best. If there is any still Greek banks in Greece, they should be taken over by Allied Creditors, no questions asked, no value returned. And the same way German war machinery was forbidden to actually defend its people, those “Greek banks” would be forbidden to service the citizens for any credit lines, they would be able to just charge them for services.
“Personal war machinery” of plain Germans (i. e. personal firearms, either in private possession from before the war, or simply souvenirs from serving in SS forces) were confiscated by the Allied forces. Same way, “financial machinery” of plain Greeks should be confiscated by Allied Creditors. Any personal savings no matter of the form, any money in the socks, any valuables like gold — it should be taken away for the next 50 years from plain Greeks. That’s what people requesting for Greece to be treated like Germany was ask for, at least.
Germans lived for 50 years in a system where their kids were regularly and very intensively reminded every day at kindergardens, schools and pretty much everywhere of the horrible crimes their government made them do during the war. Again, “Ossies” suffered worse — Soviets were keen on making them feel like animals. “Wessies” got off slightly better, but any kind of expression of pride because of German heritage or culture was, at best, looked upon in not a good way by the servants of Allies even in the West Germany. Consequently, Greeks should be reminded during 50 years of financial occupation that their government screwed up big time, that they don’t deserve even single euro of their retirements, and that it would be crime against humanity to give them money they’ve earned.
German women were, as females of any defeated and occupied nation are even today treated, often raped in the following decades by Allied officials and soldiers in both East and West (arguably, much more under Soviet control, but “more than enough” also in the western zones of occupation). Greek women should, hence, spread the legs of any horny Creditor Ally banker which comes by — if we should treat Germany and Greece the same, that is. If they don’t, they should be taken by force, it’s only fair — that’s what our socialists and Syriza fans are saying.
Examples are numerous. The point is — West Germany flourished economically but the price was very, very high. East Germany didn’t even flourish — it was plain and old-fashioned occupation with not much room to wiggle and mingle. Financial debts of the western part, indeed, were reprogrammed and made to be actually payable. But Germans paid it off with hard work for everyone else but themselves, with destruction of national pride, with virginity of their girls and any kind of influence of what they will teach their children.
Germany paid very steep price for very serious war crimes in a war it has lost. Germany flourishes today less because of good treatment by Allied forces for 50 years (they were, objectively, not treated good at all, albeit treatment was much better in the west), but because of everything else.
The world entered 20th century assured it will be the “German century”, and Germany ended up on it’s knees for better part of it. German wealth today is not God-given, it’s worked for, and it’s probably deserved. If you can ever “suffer enough” for massive killings and concentration camps [and I don’t think you can, but I also don’t see any point in generalization of a punishment], Germany and Germans did it. German society was disassembled and reassembled on completely different grounds than before, and it was done by the pure force.
So, yes, please, tell me again how Greece should be treated same as Germany…