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German Nobelist Grass Criticizes EU’s Greece-Policy in “Europe’s Shame” Poem

German Nobel Laureate for Literature, Günter Grass (84) wrote a poem. About Greece. The poem with the title “Europe’s Shame” is a harsh criticism of Europe’s policy towards Greece.  

In his poem Günter Grass deplores Greece as a “country without rights,  the self-opinionated power ties the belt tighter and tighter”. Greece “as debtor placed naked on the pillory” , “taxed on scrap value”.

The poem consists of twelve two-line stanzas each. Grass speaks directly to Europe. The work begins with the lines “near the chaos, because the market is not just, you are far away from the land, that lent you the cradle.” Greece would be “dumped”:  “As debtor placed naked on the pillory, a country suffers, to yield it thank it was a just an expression of yours.”

Grass’ latest work will appear on Saturday in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. – and I do hope some epxert would do a proper English translation

“Europe’s Shame” appears two months after Grass’ controversial poem in which he harshly criticized Israel and triggered an outrage.

Günter Grass (born 16 October 1927) is a German-Kashubian novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely regarded as Germany’s most famous living writer.


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  1. Yes, the Greek debt is a shame.

    Nobody forced Greek to borrow this enormous amount of money. Now the money is gone, very much out in the blue, and it is pay back time.

    If someone borrows money to buy for example a house or car, you are expected to pay back the whole amount, or the bank will collect what values there are left.
    Even in Greece nobody expects the bank just to say: Poor you, if you don’t think you can pay your loan back, we will tear up the contract.
    That is what the Greeks expect the foreign creditors to do.

    And do the Greek people really believe in Tsipras election propaganda ?
    That voting for him you can keep the euro, AND get a new deal for paying back the debt ?

    Get a grip, you just got this famous hair cut of the enormous sum of 110 000 000 000 euro.

    The Greek economy is obviously a bottomless pit. There are obviously no limits for greed !

    • What an ancient German communist, Gunther Grass, means in this context, is totally irrelevant.
      With or without any economic crisis, Greece would have been in this dump nevertheless.
      Greece has had it’s party for a couple of decades using money and values produced and earned of citizens in other countries.
      These people have not been as spendthrift as the Greeks, but have saved some of their income in pension funds and banks. Which in their turn have as investments bought Greek bonds, among other things, and mostly financing housing and industry in their own country.
      That is what banks do. Banks are not interested in robbing the Greek people, but to protect their investments of their customers deposits.
      The states in these countries do guarantee these deposits to a certain amount, but this guarantee, again, is paid over the taxes. Which again are paid by the people.
      So, the enormous growth of the material welfare in Greece, all the new big SUVs and other expensive cars, eating out on restaurants several times a week, flat screen TVs, computers, big 150-200 m2 family houses with swimming pools and so on, are not paid by extremely hard working Greeks, but by hard working citizens in other countries.
      I have been here long enough still to be amazed over the low productivity per hour by the Greek work force. That goes for all groups of people.
      One of the biggest unarmed robberies in history is going on by the minute, made by the Greeks.

      • keeptalkinggreece

        If banks make failure investments like giving loans to those who can’t pay them back it is their fault, not mine, ours…

      • akis antonopoulos

        the banks try to save their system which is based on interest, which interest, is proved, cannot be payed back. You cannot create money from nothing.
        One day all the capitalistic system will collapse, and god knows what will happen.
        The big bankers see this time is caming soon, and try to collect as much as they can.
        \Greeks are victims, first, from their dirty or unrensposible politicians.

      • Oh good judge, wise Daniel !

        I don’t know where you are from, but speaking like this makes you someone from a country which got “big” by draining to the lees other countries’ wealth for centuries, one way or another.

        You say “If someone borrows money to buy for example a house or car, you are expected to pay back the whole amount, or the bank will collect what values there are left.”

        If someone who happen to be Nazis stole the gold of a country 70 years ago, you also are expected to pay back the whole amount plus 70 years rate. War damages not included.
        That of course will put Germany in the position to feed Greece for the next 500 years.
        Wellaway! our ancestors should have been massivly built Colloseums (voted between the new list of 7 wonders) instead of theaters, hospitals and libraries wherever they had spead civilization. By this way we should have been avoided many things during centuries.
        But it was the pattern they followed, that makes us the best humanistic civilization wasn’t it?
        On the contrary, German people had no problem to slam their doors in the faces of the released -from Nazi camps- miserable victims who had to WALK their way back to their countries and begged for a slice of bread.

        Start paying back now!

    • MY friend you are wrong…They forced Greece to take loans when they was forcing Greeks to sold trains, rail networks, communications, factories,Electric Power factories,Road networks dont let them take their oil from their own ground and pay everything 3 times more expensive that everyone one else in Europe…Also Greeks had to change the farming (WAS THE EUROPE ORDERS 10-15 YEARS AGO ALL THIS THINKS)so Greeks should import and dont export any more…Greeks buy billions for army equipments from their “allies” every year and they pay their depths they pay pack the loans are given to them.DONT forget also they pay the profit of the loans(usually higher that all other nations more than 10%) + they decrease the unemployment to their allies because Greeks order and they create demand … its not about a house or a car…Greeks work more than all the rest in Europe(it statistics check online) and get paid less but also are paying everything more expensive…And Greece is not a third world country..they used to have the biggest shipyards and the best engineers and mechanics before Europe still them and close them down..Also Greece is guarding the Europe’s borders and every day spends millions for dogfights with Turks in air and sea (you can also find online how many planes and pilots Greeks have lost the last 10 years)or arresting illegal immigrants that trying to come into Europe . All this so Germany France and England Finland etc can sleep calm at night because Greeks pay the prise even if their depth is not even half than England’s for example..Thinks are not that simple…Good night

      • The EU produces more food than it consumes. That’s not a new problem, that’s known for years. Because of the subsidies, the farmers still make good profits, but another consequence is that no European nation can simply rely on agricultural exports (not enough demand inside the EU, too expensive to export to the rest of the world). So, other industries have to make up for the decline of that trade. This necessites adequate infrastructure. Thus, modernisation. Europe is full of nations who successfully managed this. That Greece screwed up and wasted the credits is a Greek problem in the first place.

  2. Nils, I agree 100%. But, be aware that not all Greeks think like this. Many honorable Greeks know that when you borrow money you must pay, and also many Greeks say that they did not borrow this money, but since your government did, you are still liable, like a parent who co-signs for a child, the Greek people (parents) are still liable for their children (government) who took these loans.

    Now, of course bankruptcy is a legal option in many countries, like Iceland right? So, do the bankruptcy bring back the drachmas and be done with it. in 10 years, greece will be fine just like the Iceland.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      in 10 years Greece may be in the same situation with the MoU too.

    • Most people reading this forum of articles must be quite young, when they so easily speak of how good an idea it would be for Greece to go into bankruptcy, go over to a New Drachma, and that after 10 years everything would be just fine, always referring to Iceland.
      The state of Iceland did NOT go bankrupt, it was the Icelandic central bank that got problems when one of Iceland’s private banks went solo and promised interest rates way over those in the market for deposits from abroad. This game went wrong, people wanted their money back and the central bank went insolvent. A simplified story.
      But in every case, the amounts were peanuts, and the state economy in Iceland was not involved in any way.
      And Iceland did NOT change currency, but kept the Krona which was devaluated with only about 10 %
      You cannot possibly compare Greece and Iceland in any way.
      Iceland is a country with only 250 000 people, it is a Nordic welfare state with long traditions for that, it is a volcanic island with hot water pumping up from the ground, the only imported energy they need is petrol for the cars. They are surrounded by huge areas of ocean rich with good fish, which they have international agreements on being for Iceland only to fish and maintain fishable, the Icelandic state economy is in good shape and can maintain the obligations a welfare state has to it’s citizens. Something the Greeks can only dream about. No run down public buildings there, nor pot holes in the center of the towns which make it difficult to zik zak between them and randomly parked cars.
      With a good pension and health care system paid over the tax bill (and not over some obscure funds such as IKA, TSMEDE and the likes) that guarantees a very good working pension, and a folk pension for all.

      Here comes my first real worry with Greece’s default leaving the state behind with a debt of about 400 000 000 000 euros.
      I have paid my pension bills through the years, as millions of others have. And I was counting on going on pension after 9,5 years. Do these savings just disappear in the same maelstrom as the rest ? There will be no money for health care, education, nothing. The prices for everything will soar, because the New Drachma would be nothing worth. The state debt will with the very weak New Drachma go up to 1200 billion, maybe 2000 billion New Drachmas. Equivalent to 400 billion euro. Nobody knows. You might say, that it does not matter, we will forget about all this debt, but the creditors will not forget. And will NOT give Greece one cent more loan.
      If austerity has been the reason for an increase in the number of suicides, just wait til it will start soaring. I would rather kill myself than starve to death.

      You, who romantically talk of starting from scratch, with building a New prosperous Greece up from the ashes of the old in ten years, make it sound like a piece of cake. It is not. A society is complicated, or do you need a new strong man to do this task ?

      I always think of Albania when I hear people talking about building a New Greece up from the ground. Albania started after the fall of Enver Hoxha with a clean slate. Opposite Greece with an enormous debt.
      Where is Albania now after over 20 years. The only “big” achievements they have done, is to get rid of 30 % of the population and to take part in the European Music Contest. So much for up from the ashes.

      • Nils,

        You forcefully make some valid points that seem to spring from personal experience rather than theory and blogosphere pundits. I am interested to know what, then, you prescribe at this juncture.

        It is all well and good to proclaim that people must meet their obligations, and I will not disagree with that; but when a person simply does not have the means to repay their debt — whether this is the result of their own profligacy or that of their government — what do you do? Push policies that reduce aggregate demand to a trickle, drive the poorest of them into starvation, and reduce subsequent generations to debt-slaves? Bail them out completely, as was done for the “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions with the TARP program in the US?

        I don’t have the answer, but at this point it seems very clear to me that more and more (and yet more) austerity without a stimulus package and an incentive to enact structural changes to the economy will benefit none of the stakeholders.

        (BTW, IS indeed has not gone off the króna but, perhaps curiously, it is investigating adoption of the Canadian Dollar.)