By Ioanna Fotiadi
Greeks who study, work or live in Germany are increasingly having to answer uncomfortable questions such as how much money their parents make back home and how Greece spent European Union funding.
For example, Athina, a 23-year-old medical student at Tuebingen, told Kathimerini how one of her classmates became especially critical when discussing the Egnatia Odos highway in northern Greece, which was built with EU funds and which, he said, is sadly underused.
“Many believe that we are living with their money,” said Athina, citing several examples where she has been made to feel uncomfortable by people criticizing Greece and Greeks.
“Why don’t you sell a couple of islands?” was another question posed by a German nurse to Greek pediatrician Fotini Dougali, in Saarbruecken. She responded by asking how the nurse would like having to sell a mountain or a lake in her country.
According to the 36-year-old, who is one of 10 Greek doctors working in that city, the stance of Germans toward Greeks varies. “At first they are quite reserved, mainly because we don’t speak the language well. Later they become warmer. Ridicule, though, can come from where you’d least expect it, even from other migrants. Recently a Ukranian man said, mockingly, ‘now that you’re poor too, you’ve come to rely on Germany.’”
Manolis Kouyoumtzis owns a Greek taverna in Munich and is the president of the association of Cretans in Germany and vice-president of the Pan-European Federation of Cretan Associations. Many of his German patrons ask him how things are in Greece and how people are managing with the crisis.
“The elderly Germans are stricter,” he told Kathimerini. “Younger people show more understanding, maybe because they have studied and traveled a lot.”
Father Apostolos Malamousis, the head priest in Bavaria for the German Metropolitan Church, says that Germans have always acknowledged Greeks as being “law-abiding and family-oriented,” adding that a total of 80,000 first-, second- and third-generation Greeks live in Bavaria.
“I talk with a lost of functionaries in the German civil service and the overall sentiment toward Greeks is good,” said Malamousis, adding that he is nevertheless concerned about the apparent drop in interest among Germans to visit Greece.