It is often argued that one of the reasons Berlin is reluctant to agree to eurobonds, as a way of easing the lingering debt crisis in the single currency zone, is the recurring nightmare of hyperinflation in Weimar Germany that fanned the rise of Nazism back in the 1920s.
However, Germany?s collective memory is imbued with another historical fact that should be taken into account during these crucial times.
Because apart from high inflation, one more factor which helped Adolf Hitler climb to power was no doubt the deep sense of humiliation felt by the Germans in the wake of their First World War defeat to the allied forces. It was then that the victorious allies went on to impose humbling economic and political terms on the losers.
The so-called Versailles syndrome and the notion of diktat — the idea in other words of succumbing to the terms and conditions imposed on you by the powerful — were catalysts for what started in Munich during Europe?s dark years.
Except for the return to high inflation, the Germans ought to be wary about a revival of extremist forces — on the left as well as the right — and the national tension which tends to accompany deep economic crises.
No wise-minded person can expect the German paymasters to foot the bill of the Southern states without demanding strict terms and guarantees in return.
Officials in Berlin feel that they allowed the Southerners to conquer the bureaucracy in the European Union?s headquarters in Brussels which, in turn, made them lose all control over the problematic states. Now that the Southern nations are no longer the main clients of Germany?s industry, since Berlin has turned eastward, Germany wants to change the rules of the game. This may be legitimate; but it is also quite Teutonic and compatible with the way a strong, disciplined creditor operates.
Sure, some people may want to punish Greece, or for that matter any other country, for being spoiled and mischievous over the years, but there are still ways to help a country like Greece put its house in order.
That said, governments in Berlin and Paris (and other countries) are fed up with ailing Greece, with the political failure of successive political administration, with the country?s failed state apparatus, and the fact that the provisional administration led by technocrat economist Lucas Papademos — and which is made up of socialist, conservative and ultranationalist politicians — is less convincing than its Italian counterpart under Mario Monti.
Greece has strengths, talents and unused advantages to turn things round. The Greeks can succeed when others least expect it. What the Greeks do not have, but which can be found with German and European help are first, organization, second, duration, and, third, the ability to work as a team.
I believe that neither Germany, nor any other Western state, would want to see Greece turn into a failed state — mainly because of the fact that it lies at the heart of a key region that has become destabilized.
I hope that our German partners still recall how quickly they recovered from the ashes of a devastating war thanks to the Americans who gave them help and who devised a positive model of cooperation instead of humiliating the defeated enemy.
Finally, I know that if we are to receive anyone?s help we must first grow up and look at ourselves into the mirror to see what damage we have done to the country after three decades of hard work.
And for this we have no one to blame but ourselves. After all, we are now paying the price for the mistakes committed before the troika officials ever set foot in Athens.