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Guest Post “The Greek financial crisis: Why Germany blames its victim”

An approach from the other side of the Atlantic. How a diaspora Greek sees the Greek – German relations in the context of financial crisis and the so-called financial aid to save the debt-ridden country? Is it a pure financial issue or a misconception and misunderstanding due to different cultures? A Guest Post submitted to KTG by Gerry W. Poulos
The Greek financial crisis: Why Germany blames its victim.
  By: G.W. Poulos 14/04/2016
   It has been said, “One Europe, one people, one culture.” This is more a prayer to the future than a current reality. Nothing better demonstrates this than the German government’s view of Greece. To see this, let’s look at six words and their meanings to both cultures: Honor, debt, guilt, shame, austerity and agreement.
   Honor. An honorable person, to Greeks, does what is right in the concept of philotimo. Philotimo is translated as the love of honor. However, what exactly honor is differs between the two cultures.
   To Greeks, honor means to do what is right. An honorable person can be poor, in debt or weak. The defining attributes are duty, charity, gratitude and kindness. Debt defines no part of philotimo. In the truest sense, repayment is not expected. When one gives a gift, it is to help another human. In the case of a loan, repayment of what was lent is the only expectation.
  To Germans, especially the German government, an honorable person has earned what he has and owes nothing. If you do owe a debt, you repaid it immediately at any cost. In this way, the more wealth a person has, the more honorable they are. This has been true since feudal times when the wealthy were “noble” and those with less yielded to them in all areas of life because they were better people. People of worth. People in debt had no honor or dignity and those who did not make any sacrifice possible to pay them were, essentially, criminals.
  To the Greek mind, honor has nothing to do with money. It does not make one person more honorable than another. As a result, “honor,” and the subsequent dignity it provides, means something very different to Greeks than it does to Germans. In short, Germans PAY honor and respect whilst Greeks GIVE honor and respect.
  This may seem to be a matter of semantics, but in practice, it is a significant difference. When Germany first “gave” Greece money in the form of a “bailout,” Greeks received it as a gift given through philotimo. They did so because that is how the German government presented it.
   Debt, Guilt, Shame and Austerity. These words need to be taken together because they are the same things to Germans. The Germans have a word, “schuld.” It means debt, guilt and shame, all of which makes one deserving of austerity.
  Once Greece accepted German money, they accepted the German meaning of debt. They did not know they were accepting guilt, shame and austerity. The very thought makes no sense to the Greeks, and had they known, Greece never would have accepted it. The German government knew this, but as making money is honorable, letting the Greeks make this mistake was a good thing.
   To the German government, this debt moved Greece from honorable to guilty. It also put Greece in a position where it deserved to be shamed until all resources available were sold to pay Germany.
   Austerity is understood by Greeks to mean “sternness,” but to Germans it means more. It means to forswear any indulgence, including the giving of “gifts” to the poor in the form of charity and pensions.
   Greeks did not understand this as honor has nothing to do with money or debt. Through philotimo, Greeks feel that they should give to the poor regardless of the cost and the preservation of human dignity should be the top concern in all things.
  Hence, Greeks do not understand why the Germans insist on austerity and, as part of that, should stop supporting their poor. This is exemplified in the areas of social security and pensions. Germans see this as gifts and, as Greece is in their debt, it is in no position to offer gifts.
   From a German perspective, the Greeks should accept their shame and if it means working at slave wages and starving, then so be it.
   In 2015, Greece elected a government to attempt to end austerity. When they tried to negotiate austerity, the Germans simply refused. To the German government, the act of trying to avoid paying their due went beyond shame and into the realm of criminal.
   Thus, Greeks became a shameful, guilty and lazy people who dodge paying their debts. To negotiate this was impossible. If Greece would not accept austerity, it had no right to anything, except for even harsher austerity as punishment for its crime.
  What crime? By debt, Germans do not mean money alone. Greeks see money and human dignity as two separate issues. To the German government, they are one and the same, and trying to avoid paying what was due, meaning austerity, they were guilty. Schuld.
  Agreement. This one is quite simple. Greeks, as do many other cultures, assume that what is included in a debt agreement is all that is included in a debt agreement. A contract, after all, includes what it includes and doesn’t include what it doesn’t.
  The German government, however, feels it is their right to inflict that austerity at its whim. Hence, when the Germans demanded things not in the agreement, specifically austerity, Greece took issue. Germany didn’t care because they feel that Greece deserves to be treated harshly simply because it is, to them, a shameful race.
  When the Greece government accused them of treating Greece with indignity and cruelty by demanding more and more not in the agreements, the Germans simply shrug their shoulders and think, “Yes. That is because it is what you deserve.”
  To the German government, Greece should starve and suffer like the criminal state it is. That is what austerity is. Public services and pensions should be cut, if not canceled. Greece should sell everything possibly for any amount they can get.
  Greeks are a people of no value or worth whatsoever. They are a shameful race who would rather give people free food and medicine than pay their debts. Any aspect of Greek life and culture that can be sold should be sold.
  In the mind of the German government, this is what Greece agreed to do and, in light of its attempt to end austerity, what it deserves.
   What Next? If Greece wishes to feed and provide for its people, it needs to stop the German austerity. The German government has no hesitations in leaving Greece a starving race of slave workers for the consumption of the German industrial machine. They are masters of blaming their victims for the crimes against humanity they perpetrate.
   As truly stated by German officials, the forgiveness of debt is, to them, both unconscionably and illegal. This will never change. The German government has no interest in helping Greece. They will put Greece in further debt and are more than happy to profit from Greek suffering. This is a very honorable thing to do in their minds, just as slave owners felt they were moral people.
   Modern Germany may not be the old Germany, but Greece must understand, the differences are slight. If the German government thought for a second that they could get away with it, they would march an army to take Greece by force. Still,the German government is waging war on Greece. A financial war.
  The German government will not stop until they are successful. It is their law to do this. It is illegal for them to stop until Greece is either consumed or they are forced to stop against their will. It is a predatory government that uses predatory lending practices that are illegal in most of the civilized world.
  Need more convincing? Recently, the German government made a deal with Turkey, and in the process, Turkey did something for the them placing the Germans in “schuld” to it.
  The Germany people believe in a free press. It is their law. However, because Turkey has demanded Germany prosecute a comic for making “insulting” comments about their leader, Germany will do so. Angela Merkel explained this in a single comment that all Germans understood. They will do what the Turks demand as “part of our schuld to Turkey.”
  The German government does not even respect the civil liberties of its own people. What path of reason would make anyone think they would hesitate to do this, and more, to another people? Most of the suffering in Europe today is a direct result of German predation. The German government has no respect for humanity.
  Even more worrisome for Greece: what will they do if Turkey wants Germany to give them part of Greece?
   The issue here is simple: The German government is repeatedly raping Greece, and, at every turn, blaming Greece for these crimes. That should not be surprising. All rapist blame their victims.
Gerry W. Poulos
Gerry W. Poulos, 53, is a children books author, a veteran of the US Air Force, a former campaigner, “an American born of Greek Immigrants.”
In his email to KTG, Gerry Poulos explained that as a diaspora Greek,  he was always trying to find out how different meanings and attitudes of different cultures lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions.

“Being raised “Greek,” and with the included affection for talking politics, I have often seen how simple cultural differences lead to conflict and misunderstanding. One simple example is how we “give our attention” from a place of consideration as opposed to “paying attention” from a place of obligation. Likewise, when one doesn’t give attention, it is rude. When one doesn’t pay attention, they are scolded (guess where that word comes from lol). Depending on your interpretation, these actions may, or may not insult people.
Working in politics, this has become so apparent as has almost become laughable. Many people think a law or proposal means one thing, while others think it means something else. This is very apparent in the current (and past) Greek financial crisis negotiations. What one side thinks is reasonable literally angers the other making things worse. Hence the article.”
And the question is: Is it just a matter of different culture between Germany and Greece? Or just a greedy lender using mafia-style methods to get his money back from a bankrupt borrower?
PS oh, Pride and Prejudice …

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28 comments

  1. A most interesting analysis. Regrettably, the last sentence wipes out the credibility of the author.

  2. While the sentiment in the last sentence may be badly phrased, it nonetheless expresses an ideology that has been used repeatedly over the centuries to blame victims for the horrible treatment meted out to them and to justify it by making the them ultimately responsible for it. In the US, this kind of logic was used to justify away racism and slavery. In capitalist societies, it’s used to explain away social injustice (the poor are poor because they want to be poor or they deserve to be poor). Adorno wrote about how Nazi Germany consistently blamed the Jews and others for the treatment it was inflicting upon them. The Inquisition not only blamed the victims, but went so far as to declare that it was saving their soul by torturing and burning their bodies.

    So there’s nothing new under the sun. The strong and powerful have always justified their conduct by blaming the weak for forcing the strong to act they way they do. In fact if we want to be “logical”, we should feel sorry for the strong. My God! After all, how dare the poor put the strong in a position in which they are forced to act in such a brutal way by not meekly accepting their fate. If only the weak accept their position in life! No one would need to treat them badly.

  3. keeptalkinggreece

    I had also problems with the last sentence but didn’t want to edit

  4. Below is the little less emotional analysis on Deutsche Bank. German finance system is a gunpowder barrel and Greek payment delay is a spark.

  5. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    This is the problem of doing no research and just take limited information for reality.. the comic that was also only available on Pay-TV will be sued two ways: Erdogun against the artist directly with or without Merkel and secondly Merkel needed to approve to use a very old law that was used the last time by the Shah of Persia in 1967 but the Shah was in Germoney at time of “crime” and Erdogun not, so this one’s is a joke as it’s not sure if the law is valid as the “victim” was not in Germoney at time of “crime”; also the smart artist used phrases and words in a way they don’t exist … a proper translation will not exist until the courts decide in ten years.
    The anti-Greek media-campaign was not starting in 2015 but in 2010 and it was much harsher back then, may be unnoticed in America ziegelohneseele.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/der-herr-segert-und-die-steirische-fpo/ and unfortunately the German industrial machine needs well educated slaves, so no jobs to get at all.
    This whole paranoia also ignores the millions of “Greeks” and “Turks” that are living in Germoney with and without German passport and hides its funny impacts.

  6. I agree that the end may be a bit much, however, as a metaphor, it is clear and requires no further explanation. And, yes, it is an emotional issue on both sides both privately and publicly. The comments of “lazy Greeks” were openly stated by officials to the press. It is difficult to say that it is not an emotional issue when the question of humanity vs profits is very much the heart of the issue. To be human is to be emotional. For example, if the elderly and sick were simply abandoned there would be no more issues or arguments regarding pension cuts. While it would be a very business-like decision, is it really a “human” option? Just saying.

  7. Well,first: He is not being “sued.” he is being prosecuted. Regarding the law, there was this little thing called “Unification Treaty of 31 August 1990 and Federal Statute of 23 September 1990” which states “Article 5 (Freedom of expression). (1) Everyone has the right freely to express and to disseminate his opinion by speech, writing and pictures and freely to inform himself from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by radio and motion pictures are guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.” his supersedes the previous laws.
    Second, I didn’t state the “anti-Greek” media campaign began in 2015. I cited the reaction to the election of a new government to negotiate austerity in 2015.
    Third, “millions” of Greeks don’t live in Germany and those with German passports are German citizens. I fail to see what ‘Turks” have to do with anything.
    Fourth, “… the German industrial machine needs well educated slaves, so no jobs to get at all…” Frankly, I find this insulting as it seems clear was your intent.
    You see, This is the problem of doing no research and just take limited information for reality.

  8. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Insulting is to not see the situation that German companies try to find in South of Europe young people for their education-programs in their industries, so only people without information go to Germoney to find a job without this 3-years education, as these jobs simply don’t exist, esp in big cities with 20% unemployment, this is 2020, not 1967. Also it’s not the point what GDR signs an agreement for “accession” – as this they call it because if they’d call it reunification they’d have to pay war-debts to Greece – if you call a car-driver who nearly killed you a murderer a court will punish you harder than a phoning car-driver killing a cyclists, anyway a judge can decide to whip it off the table if one pays 300 Euro but you’d better ask Greeks and Turks living in Germoney as they may see no difference to call Turks goatfuckers and Greeks lazy.
    You’re just trying to hunt Greeks against Turks who grow up together in Germoney that is not even thinking for a second about this nonsense like “giving Greek land to Turkey” – may be you’ll find many such people in Austria who miss their Trieste so much and want “a Greek island for bailing out Greece.”
    But opinions are like arseholes and mine thinks you’re just a squatter on stolen land, speaking not any of the 500 American languages, ignoring any Red Indian law but talk about other countries laws, this is ridiculous; go in their concentration camp and kindly ask’em to write you passport to make your stay in America legal because for their homeland security you’re are just another terrorist they are fighting against since 1492.

  9. Ah, I see. This has nothing to do with the Greek financial crisis, just a trolling rant. Well, it’s not 2020 its 2016 and my point of the law, as you also pointed out, is that even though there is a law, it is ignored for political advantage-as stated in the article.
    I’ve made no comment about what Germans call Turks, that was you, and it isn’t part of anything on this page except your rant. The article has nothing to do with whatever Turkish-German crisis you seem to be prattling about or how educated migrant workers are. That’s just you.
    I’m not trying to hunt Greeks against Turks either. The point of the land to Turkey comment is that Germany is already calling on Greece to sell it, it’s a short step to giving it away for political advantage–just as they ignored their own laws against their own citizens for political advantage with Turkey…as stated in the article.
    So why mention Turkey? Preciously because it has been demanding concessions from the EU based on its migrant deal…which seems to be a mute point given recent developments. If that’s the way this works out, watch the charges against the comic be dismissed.
    And yes, calling someone a murderer who isn’t a murderer is slander not an issue of free speech.
    There’s no “hunt” to pit Greeks against Turks, that’s just your rant. The article is about Germany v Greece, the financial crisis, and the cultural differences that have caused, and continue to cause, friction. Not about Turkey except in regards to where Germany may theoretically take the issue given its recent actions.
    I have no idea what you’re even going on about in your last paragraph. lol But, it doesn’t matter. I’m done with your rants. troll somewhere else. Toodles.

  10. keeptalkinggreece

    yes, you gotta get used to GiGi’s trolling lol – wait till he posts a brief history of Kongo

  11. Make USA great again

    USA is our American country now Yoghurt man.. Utter nonsense to ramble on about 1492. Your comments, along with 50 cents can buy a bottle of water. Trump is coming and he will be strict on anti-American countries.

  12. “USA is our country now…” And who is this “we” exactly?

  13. Trump is the biggest asshole that the USA has managed to find. One might think that a country the size of the USA would be able to field semi-intelligent and semi-respectable people for president. Apparently not. It is as if you started a competition: who is the most ignorant, privileged (i.e. born into a stinking rich family)and obnoxious moron we can find? Oh look, here’s Bush. No, wait, Trump is far worse. Let’s elect him!

  14. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    The main problem is the unfairness that allows only rich bastards to run for, San Francisco’s music “underground” is full of candidates but they don’t have money.

  15. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Go visit Anti-American Berlin with its monument behind your embassy for all by White Trash exterminated American Nations. We never pay for water, the Turks with their Illegal States of Osmerica had also to leave after 400 years and so do you, in a Free America is no room for primitive European master races without any papers.
    How can an illegal nation be any great, the US got not even an own language, it’s all stolen like the land is stolen from 500 nations who now are 5% of your prison population for refusing to speak European language, held hostage under your illegal European constitution of dirty squatter laws.

  16. keeptalkinggreece

    a not again! pleeeeease

  17. This is the biggest load to bullshit – pay your debt to Greece in the form of WAR reparations U owe and then come and talk to Greece about paying what is owed to Germany, YOU OWE GREECE war reparations dumb f**cks. It’s only good enough when the debt is owed to you. Default and leave this northern money racket, let them rot in hell. If I was a Greek I’d spit in every German food that I came across, these dog faces are not there to help you!

  18. Dear Gerry
    Your article has the interesting characterisation of Germany as a “predatory” nation/government. Sadly, however, the most important fact which supports such a claim is not included in your article. All the theory of what financial debt means to a German and to his/her version of honour is for the others to uphold, not the Germans themselves: it concerns the debts towards them, not their debts towards the others. The German debts towards Greece arising out of the destruction and theft they engaged in when they first occupied the country (1941-1944), they now pretend they do not exist. In fact, an accurate and detailed study by a committee of the Greek parliament (2015) estimates those at a level which is of the order of the entire Greek public sector debt.
    This manifests that the German perception of repaying a debt as a matter of honour is only valid is the debt is owed to them. For the debts they owe to others, this “sense of honour” does not apply.
    It is exactly this which exposes them as a predatory nation. Unfortunately, two world wars caused by this nation in the not so distant past have not managed to convince the rest of humanity as to how dangerous they are and the need to contain their predatory nature. Their next achievement, namely the dismantling of the EU and the return of animosity among European nations is around the corner. Let us enjoy watching them in action once more.
    Maybe this time (third in around 100 years) we will all learn!

  19. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    This is impossible as this is devastating against the corrupt nature of states, otherwise they’d have decided that Germoney lost all rights to exist any longer and give the whole country to their victims, or at least the biggest parts oft it: one state for the Jews, the Roma, the homosexuals, the communist and all the other victims.

  20. I agree 100%. The German idea of debt consists of one law for us, another for “them”. Moreover, the Germans were “forgiven” their debts to the West after world war 2, primarily by making excuse after excuse that they have problems paying. The claim that debt is a matter of honour for Germans is not substantiated by historical facts. In plain language, we judge people by their deeds, not by their lying words.

  21. Hello, In this article the topic is about why Germany blames it victims–in their own minds. Of course all are right about the lack of the German government’s seeming inability to hold themselves to the same standards as everyone else.
    The subject is too vast to cover all aspects in any single article and I do intend to write others about this subject specifically as well as other associated ones, such as how this leads to the degrading of democracy in Europe and elsewhere.
    On this topic I will offer this as a short teaser–The Germans have always had a special gift for justifying actions that don’t conform to their own beliefs and behaviors in the name of a supposed “greater good.”
    Before WWII, the National Socialist Party looked away from the German debt because of the professed inhumanity of the Treaty of Versailles oppressing the people. Protecting the people was more important.
    After the war started, they needed to protect the “master race” for the good of humanity. That was more important.
    Immediately after the war ended it was the National Socialist Party that was to blame, not the good German people, so it was unfair to blame them. Being fair to people was more important.
    Today, of course, They must protect the “Core of the EU” for the good of all in the EU. Of course, they are the self proclaimed core of the EU (and occasionally France when it is politically advantageous). So, protecting the “core” of the EU is more important.
    They are very good at justifying their actions in their own minds, and, by convincing themselves that they are setting aside their own honor to serve some mythical greater good, it makes them even more honorable…at least in the minds of the German government.
    Just saying. 🙂

  22. oh, forgot a “historical fact”: stopping communism was also more important…there are others too. -G

  23. Fair enough. (I mean your comment, not the crappy Germans.)

  24. Make USA great again

    Gerry great article. Nice to see a fellow Greek American tell it like it is. So are u ready for Trump in November?

  25. Ohhhh. I am a conservative, by that I mean I believe in the constitution. I served to defend the the constitution. I believe all people are equal and have a birth right to life, libery and the pursuit of happieness. I belive in limited federal goverment, a currency worth something and a government subject to the people whole have a right to turn against it if it turns against them. I bellieve we should be strond enough to stand on our own, kind enough to extend a hand to other, brave enough to defend the weak and wise enough to know what is which. So, sorry, no. I am not a Trump supporter. But good luck. 🙂

  26. Make USA great again

    What will it take to change your mind about Trump? Hillary is definitely not fitting your profile I imagine?

  27. keeptalkinggreece

    pls, do not use this website for US politics

  28. I am glad that we agree Gerry.

    In addition to what you say, I believe that the end of the EU is around the corner and this is going to be the sole responsibility of this double-faced predatory nation called Germany. Their governments and their elites are guided by the doctrine that being able to enslave all nations in Europe once more justifies them to stop at nothing, even if this means endangering the welfare of their own people.

    They will regret this once more, but at what cost to the other nations of Europe? The unfortunate thing is that the US have turned a blind eye so far.

    I am looking forward to reading your next article on this.