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The Euro Is Ripping Europe Apart


Greece is dredging up some ugly memories in Europe with a new push for German war reparations from World War II. Two weeks ago, a “top-secret” report from the Greek Finance Ministry was leaked that claimed that Germany still owes Greece €162 billion in reparations. The report made waves, but it wasn’t clear whether the Greek government was serious about pressing ahead with the claims or was planning on burying them in the interest of smoothing over its relations with Germany.

Under pressure from the anti-bailout parties, the ruling coalition has finally decided that it will, in fact, be asking Germany for the money. Germany has made it clear that its debt to Greece has long since been paid, and it considers the issue to be closed.

This is bad news for Europe. It will make it harder for German politicians to support bailouts and additional relief for Greece, and it will further embitter discussions in European institutions. (Oh, and we doubt Greece will be seeing any reparations from Germany anytime soon.)

The monetary union and the European project as a whole were supposed to help the continent pull together and put its troubled past behind it. Instead, its failures of design  are kindling old grudges from a war that ended nearly 70 years ago and tearing the union apart.

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  • ojfl

    Square peg, meet round hole. Make it fit…

    • Kavanna

      Round peg, meet square hole. Make it work, or else ….

      • GardenGnomeLF

        Actually a round peg with a diameter the same size as the width of the square hole can easily fit.
        A square peg with a width the same size as the diameter of a circular hole can not fit at all.

  • Philopoemen

    Taken to its “logical” conclusion, reparations for past grievances in Europe would just end up shuffling everyone’s money around. Almost every state would have to pay reparations to another, with regions of some states also having to pay other regions in the same state.

    Turkey, for one, would end up subsidizing most of eastern Europe (including Greece too), and Italy would be completely broke, since it occupied almost the entire EU’s territory at one point.

    They don’t have much choice but to let bygones be bygones. Germany can’t indefinitely be held accountable for its past actions.

    • Jim Luebke

      Taken to its logical conclusion, the Celts (the Welsh? Irish? Bostonians?) would end up with Monaco, and most of France. The Turks (and Hungarians) would be sent back to the steppes.

      The whole system of discriminating against the descendants of those who committed social injustices is a farce — it’s the main source of social injustice in the modern West.

  • Alexander Scipio

    Ya know… the ONLY 45-yr period of peace in Europe from Westphalia to today, the ONLY period in which Europeans weren’t busily killing other Europeans for a couple of generations, was when they were sandwiched between NATO & the Warsaw Pact. As soon as the Pact disintegrated, they – AGAIN – began killing each other. America – AGAIN – had to intervene. Looks like history in Europe is about to re-start.. all because of a bunch of totalitarian rulers insisted, against the wishes of the people, on the euro. (Those countries that use it didn’t get to vote on it; those countries that got to vote on it aren’t using it.)

  • Jim Luebke

    So how conscious is the German government of the fact that Reparations were the main issue the National Socialists used to gain power in the early ’30s? The far right could make a great deal of that issue again today.

    Thankfully, it looks like the far right in Greece is unlikely to join forces with the far right in Germany.

    • Kavanna

      Then they could fight it out over reparations from any number of wars. Difficult balance sheet to work out. I think that’s what Tolstoy was trying to do at the end of War and Peace.

  • Kavanna

    The essential fallacy in all this is the idea that Europe needs some sort of imposed “unity.” In fact, such attempts have always been the source of Europe’s misery. The peace held so well after the war because there was no dominant European power ready to impose unity from above. Only the Russians had that ambition after 1945, and they were held off by NATO.

    Now the Germans are being dragged back into this role — reluctantly, I might add, but pressured by the inevitable logic of a disastrous currency union.

    The euro should have been east-west, not north-south. After the Cold War ended, it might have worked.

  • skhpcola

    Greece and Grecians are leeches, just like the American left. If Germany gave them $162 billion, Greece would be broke again within a year and Greeks would be all frowny and rioty. Socialists are eternally unhappy, wherever they live.

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