Greeks Welcome Their New European Overlords... In German
The surreal keeps getting surrealer. One could probably think that after being forced to pay for the privilege of having a job, to fund European bank solvency out of their pocket as part of the Greek "bailout", and finally to hand over their gold, the Greeks would have at least put up a fight. One would be wrong: instead of doing anything else than the occasional store front looting by marauding gangs, what Greeks are doing instead... is lining up for German lessons. Well, if you can't beat them, may as well learn their language. Athens News reports: "Ruediger Bolz has 350 students coming through the doors of his German language institute in central Athens each day - 20 percent up on a year ago. The rush among Greeks to learn German may seem odd after the war of words between the two countries, with Greeks fuming at German accusations of financial mismanagement and some media playing on Nazi caricatures of Berlin politicians. Yet for Bolz, who has run the Goethe Institute for the last six years, there is no mystery: his pupils are happy to side-step politics and face up to harsh economic realities by acquiring new skills." So years of debt slavery induced misery may be in store, and the sheep are delighted to get the electric cattle prod, but at least they get to beg their employers to take their money with the proper umlaut usage.
The sad story continues: ""Most of those coming to us are young students or academics and they are doing all they can to improve their professional qualifications," Bolz said in his office at the state-run agency, which like the British Council or French Institute has the job of promoting national culture and language. "No doubt some of them have plans to leave Greece but most of them just think they will stand a better chance of getting a job if they have a foreign language - in Greece or elsewhere."
Perhaps bankers have judged modern reality perfectly - at least during the World Wars there was a foreign aggressor to be fought. Now, the global debt slaves are merely fighting their own personal habits to live outside their means. Or not, as the case may be, first in Greece, then everywhere else. Perhaps handing over the sovereign gold is a welcome price to pay for perpetuating the sad illusion of future wealth.
The rest of the story is well-known:
One youth in two is out of a job – and that rate will not improve as a result of the austerity measures accompanying the rescue package agreed on Tuesday.
That deal was won after Germany's finance minister had likened the Greek public purse to a "bottomless pit" and Greece's president, Karolos Papoulias – a veteran of resistance to Nazi World War Two occupation – bristled at German "insults".
One Greek tabloid, Dimokratia, printed a computer-generated image of Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Nazi uniform, while the head of German manufacturer Bosch called for Greece to be kicked out of the European Union.
A Greek electrical union has hit back by calling for a boycott of Bosch products.
Opinion surveys often indicate a certain Greek mistrust of Germany. A study this month by pollster VPRC released by Epikera magazine on Thursday showed 76 percent of respondents thought Germany was "rather hostile" towards Greece.
Bolz said the row had mostly passed his office by.
While youths torched dozens of businesses across Athens during protests this month, the modern concrete-and-glass building that houses the Goethe Institute - which in 1952 became the first of around 150 such outposts of German culture around the world to be reopened after the war - was unscathed.
"We get one or two stupid emails a month, often anonymous," said Bolz. "But all of our events are going on as usual."
Brochures in Bolz's office pay testimony to Greece's long ties with a country that vies with China as the world's top exporter. One shows an 1884 advert by an Athens restaurant boasting of its Bavarian beer, while another advert invites gamblers to take part in a 1878 German-run lottery.
One blot in the German-Greek relationship came in 2000 when an Athens court ordered the seizure of the Goethe Institute and other German state property in Greece to satisfy reparation claims by wartime victims from Distomo.
On 10 June 1944, German SS troops massacred 218 innocent civilians in the village of Distomo and set almost all the houses on fire, in one of the most horrifying atrocities in occupied Greece.
But a minister stopped the seizure order after a two-year legal wrangle, that has made its way, via Italy, to the International Court of Justice.
Lots of talk, zero constructive action, or the willingness for it:
Downstairs in the institute's cafe, conversations inevitably turn to the privations felt by citizens at the hard end of the budget cuts - the higher taxes on wages and the whittling away of the pensions of parents and grandparents.
Lisa Hamouzopulos, the German-speaking Swiss who has run the cafe for 13 years, said clients were spending less and that discussions on the crisis had to be handled with care.
Bolz, who has a Greek wife, said he has encountered no anti-German sentiment in Greece and says the more common feeling is that of hurt pride at the measures imposed from on high by the "troika" of EU bodies and the International Monetary Fund.
While admitting to having gone at least partly native after 25 years of close ties to the country, he said foreign lenders must accept that there is no quick fix to problems which most ordinary Greeks knew had been building up for years.
"I think the process has started now," he said. "Greece is on the right path but it will take longer than we think."
And that, dear readers, is how one abdicates in the modern all out war against those heading the status quo courtesy of controlling the debt spigot, or at least promises thereof.