Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The D-Mark Strikes Back

Of course Germany will be feeling a little atavism. A precocious younger sibling appears to have lied and stolen from them, and now needs to be bailed out of jail.

We will see what kind of "family" the EU is: A white picket fence 1950s American archetypal nuclear family or something more akin to Henry Hill's "Family" in the movie "Goodfellas"?

BERLIN — The Greek financial crisis has given German bloggers a great opportunity to say what they really think about the European Union and especially the euro.

“Give us back our Deutsche mark,” wrote one blogger. Another told Britain, which is not a member of the euro zone, to stay away. “It’s not worth it. Keep your pound. We should have kept our D-Mark.”

It is hard to gauge just how deep such nostalgia for the German mark runs. But one thing is certain. For Germans, the mark was more than just currency. It symbolized the spectacular economic recovery of West Germany from the ruins of World War II. The worldwide respect it commanded became an immense source of pride for Germans. No wonder that when Germans exchanged their marks for euro coins in 2002, there was seething resentment.

So if Germany now is forced to bail out Greece and later protect Spain and Portugal against speculators, it could easily revive that resentment against Europe and the common currency.

“The Germans are angry,” said Elmar Brok, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party and European Parliament legislator. “We have had to bail out our own banks, and now we have to help Greece. But what can we do? We have no choice.”

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