In 1870, six months before a retreating French army was defeated by Prussian troops at Sedan, the Deutsche Bank was established in Berlin. Although Britain was still the pre-eminent world economic power, the US and Germany were starting to take the giant strides that would soon enough see them leave the former “workshop of the world” in their wake.
In the aftermath of the harsh deal for brutal austerity and mass privatisation imposed on Greece in the early hours of July 13, both Berlin and Paris are floating alternative “solutions” to the euro problem. Germany, on the one hand, wants greater fiscal integration, whereas France is calling for the creation of a eurozone government as well as a dedicated finance minister. The mainstream press is talking up the divisions between the two nations as fundamentally different perspectives on the euro — or even differences in political “culture”.
Supporters of Die Linke (The Left) demonstrate in front of the Federal Chancellery, Berlin. Protests took place in 14 cities in Germany on July 16 against the German government’s aggressive treatment of the Greek crisis and in solidarity with their European Mediterranean neighbours.
More than 60 lawmakers from Germany’s Die Linke (The Left) party voted against the proposal for further austerity for Greece on July 17. They accused the German government of “destroying Europe” by forcing Greece to accept hard-hitting austerity measures required by the eurozone for a third bailout deal.
As the left in Australia faces the need to organise against escalating racism from mainstream politicians and the far right, important lessons can be learned from anti-racist struggles across the world. Sibylle Kaczorek is a Socialist Alliance activist now living in Melbourne who was active in anti-racist campaigns in Germany. She spoke to Green Left Weekly's Nick Fredman. * * * Despite Germany officially becoming an anti-fascist state after World War II, there have been continuing connections between the far right and the state haven’t there?
Europe, as we know it, may well be over. The promise of a peaceful integration of equals with a capitalist framework lies tattered on the floor of a negotiation room in Brussels. There, the SYRIZA-led Greek government finally succumbed to the blackmail, economic carpet-bombing and “mental water-boarding” of the European powers.
Public sector workers strike against the deal, July 15. In the early hours of July 16, Greek parliament voted to accept the punitive July 12 funding deal put forward by eurozone lenders. The deal included many harsh austerity measures, including large-scale privatisation, that the SYRIZA-led government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had come to office pledging to oppose.
Tens of thousands of anti-capitalist, environmental and social justice activists took to the streets and country roads of Bavaria in Germany to protest the Group of Seven (G7) nations summit, which took place on June 7 and 8 in a secluded castle in the German Alps. More than 35,000 demonstrators marched peacefully in the Bavarian capital Munich on June 4. They protested the destructive policies of the G7 industrialised nations — climate change, militarisation and NATO expansion in Europe, economic austerity and poverty, democracy-destroying free trade deals and more.
Greek pensioners joined the march for a better healthcare in Athens.
Thousands of German train drivers and railway workers began a week-long strike on May 5, the longest in the country’s post-war history. About two thirds of Germany’s long distance trains and a third of regional trains have been cancelled, with trains in the eastern region around Halle, Leipzig, and Dresden reduced to about 15% of services. Some subway systems were also affected, including in Hamburg and Berlin. Deutsche Bahn (DB) carries a fifth of Germany's freight transport — about 1 million tonnes per day — as well as moving 5.5 million passengers daily.
Günter Grass, who was one of Germany’s most important post-war novelists, died on April 13 at the age of 87 in the town of Lübeck, in northern Germany. Grass was perhaps most famous for his 1959 book The Tin Drum, a novel that embodied fantastical elements in its critique of Weimar and Nazi Germany. As such, his style bore resemblances to Latin America’s genre of magical realism. In 1979, the book was turned into an Academy Award winning film by Volker Schlöndorff, which won the Oscar for best foreign film.
Greece demands Germany pay war reparations Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has proposed creating a joint commission of Greek and German experts to address the issue of World War II reparations, TeleSUR English said on March 23. “Athens wants to come to an agreement regarding the issue of reparations, we need to find a common denominator,” Kotzias said. The foreign minister added that he prefers a political solution to the issue, rather than a legal one.
Anti-riot police attacked protesters gathering against the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 18. Reuters said more than 550 people were arrested. Police used pepper gas and water cannons to open a path to the entrance of the building, which was being blocked by demonstrations. A minority of protesters threw stones or other projectiles and set fire to at least seven police cars. More than 100 protesters were reported to be injured.
If history is any guide, it is reasonable to assume that Greece’s recently-elected left-wing SYRIZA government will be subjected to a foreign-backed destabilisation campaign and possible attempts to install a new right-wing authoritarian regime. There is a long history in Greece of the left being suppressed by the oligarchy collaborating with outside forces.
Greece’s new SYRIZA government submitted its list of proposed economic reforms to the Eurogroup (the finance ministers of eurozone nations) on February 23 as a precondition for its international creditors to approve a four-month loan extension. The deal was signed on February 20. With Greece’s existing loan arrangement expiring on February 28 and bankruptcy looming, a last-minute deal was finally agreed after three weeks of intense negotiations. The talks had been characterised by daily — sometimes hourly — twists and turns, claims and counterclaims, leaks and threats.
Actions in solidarity with Greece’s anti-austerity government are being planned across Europe and beyond as Greece’s left-wing SYRIZA-led government confronts a European elite determined to destroy its pro-people platform. Plans for protests to support Greece came as international institutions failed to reach an agreement with the SYRIZA government, TeleSUR English said on February 11. Talks were set to resume on February 16.