One of the truisms of world history is that it is the victor that writes the history, and in the case of Germany, keeps on writing the narrative.
One of my little habits when I am on an Early Shift is to read the iPad for the latest RSS Feeds, normally ‘The Economist’ the ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Times’ , this is normally an avoidance for having to go work, but I so far managed to leave in enough not to be too late for work. Last week I managed to walk out of the house before I threw the iPad at the wall, David Blunkett was berating Germany for actually being too succesful and dictating terms on Europe.
I am dismayed on two fronts, firstly that a senior member of the Labour Party, though his column for the ‘The Sun’ might suggest otherwise, who was a Home Secretary in the last Labour Government was berating Angela Merkel for being dictatorial in Europe, and fashioning Europe in the image of Germany. This is the usual reprise of the Tory Right Wing summoning up images of a war fought seventy years ago and of an Army marching across Europe wanting to enforce hegemony whilst ignoring the truth, well the fact to be honest.
It wasn’t too long ago that Germany was being attacked for being too hesitant, for not saving the Euro, for not buying into the debt of the rest of Europe, since this would be inflationary measure, and the last run in inflation ended up in the Dictatorship of Hitler, perhaps people could see why caution is, and has always has been, the watchword.
If the hyper-inflation of the 30’s is not enough for Germany to show caution, perhaps the 500,000 Germans who died after the Second World War might be enough to show the caution of Germany. NEVER AGAIN is very much the watchword in Germany. Germany has been fiscally conservative, it has ‘saved for a rainy day’ and it has kept a close eye on inflation, and invested in its economy and its people. It is what the United Kingdom could have been, but we decided on a political system of confrontation rather than cooperation.
Reading a couple of articles published subsequently – here – which emphasise the German economic miracle has been brought about thrift it proves they have won the peace through hard work and fiscal probity. The only reason Germany is at the ‘top of the pile’ is because it has worked hard to get there.
The problem is what story does Europe want to tell about Germany, does it want Germany to lead, or leave?
If we want a Germany in Europe then lets stop harking on about the past, and skilfully editing the story make Germany, when it complies with and finances Europe, as the evil empire; like America during the 30’s creating a power vacuum of non-intervention weakens the entire political system,; if we want a Europe without Germany we must stop asserting that it must act as the major financial superpower.
Angela Merkel managed to slide past German Constitutional Court a deal on the European Stability Mechanism that makes Germany potentially liable for European debts of up £190 Billion, and more than £400 Billion if other countries fail to contribute – that is some commitment to Europe.
Richard III suffered from the bad press, much of the stories about the ‘Princes in the Tower’ were written well after his death, and mainly to please the Elizabethan political commentary. The press was against Richard III, and in a historical twist of irony it is thought that bones they have discovered in Leicester are of the last Plantagenet King, in a Car Park being overlooked by the Child Protection Agency!
The history makers can have another laugh at the King. The question is do we want the truth and be told the old stories again and again to protect us from the harsh reality? Just as the stories about Richard III are political to inform the accepted narrative of political change and collapse of Empire so the stories about Germany are there to terrify.