Few weeks ago, I went with my class to Berlin in order to visit the Capital city of Germany. During this stay of five days we had the opportunity to attend a TV show about Greek issue. Guests invited to participate to this debate were from different boards: A leader of the coalition CDU/CSU, a financial expert, a woman from Green party, a teacher of University and an economist. All this person had some different point of views concerning the situation of Greece in European Union (EU).
I would like to talk about a specific point of the Greek issue:
Greek government want Germany to repay for troubles caused during Second World War by Nazi regime.
Greece borrowed 240 billion euros at the beginning of this crisis and they ask 162 billion euros to Germany. This demand is to allow Greece to renegotiate his debt with his creditor that is EU and the main actor of this Union, Germany.
To understand this demand from Greece let’s see what happened decades and years ago:
In 1946, Treaty of Paris explain reparation owed by Germany and Greece should receive about 50 billion euros from Germany for this troubles. But the question is: Who must pay? East or West Germany? Finally, countries involved in this discussion said that reparations will be paid when Germany will become one country.
In 1947, European Recovery Plan named also Marshall Plan begin and will continue until 1952. The Marshall plan has the main objective to help European countries after the war but also to avoid countries to rejoin Communist side. Moreover, this donations from USA help them to export products so increase their economy. That show Americans have an interest in this help but that is the case in most geopolitical situation. Sixteen countries want to be involved in this plan as France, Great Britain, Austria, Greece and others. In 1949, West Germany received some donations, about 150 billion euros, from this plan.
In 1953, more than 60 % of West German Public debt is cancelled. This debt was about four times the GNP of this country. The reason of this gift from West Europe countries and USA is historical:
After the First World War, reparations against Germany were so important that caused a big inflation, then a crisis and help Nazi regime to take the power. Greece was one of the creditors of West Germany and Greek new government consider this gift for German debt could be done for Greek debt too.
In 1960, Germany give an amount of around 350 million euros to Greeks citizens who were most touched by Nazis pillaging. This is a first step from Germany but not enough for Greeks because this sum of money is nothing compared with billions of euros.
After the reunification in 1990, the Two Plus Four Agreement is signed between East and West Germany and the four occupation countries (USA, France, Great Britain and URSS). The result of this agreement is the abandon of war reparations.
According to Germany countries who signed this agreement represent all Europe so they don’t have to repay for the troubles caused by Nazis.
On the other side, Greek people think that Allies have no legitimacy to be a representative of all European countries and especially Greece in this case. This country has never accepted the agreement of 1990.
On Easter’s Sunday Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis went to Washington in order to discuss with IMF (International Monetary Fund) because Greece must pay about 500 million euros to this organization.
To conclude, this demand from Greece put Germany in a delicate position: Either Germany admit his prior mistakes and accept Greek government to repay less for their public debt or Greece should repay now without help from German money.
This question is difficult because European Union (EU) was created to enable countries to act together for the future of Europe and don’t remind this kind of historical souvenirs.
However past couldn’t be forgotten so perhaps Germany should do a memory work...
I would like to talk about an event that happened decades ago but still important today. The hostage-taking during Summer Olympics Games in Munich (West Germany) in 1972 can be considered as the beginning of terrorism. This attack named the “Munich massacre” will force further governments to take measures against a new opponent never seen before. Nowadays, the terrorism is present in plenty of countries and even in Democracies like France or USA for instance. The attacks of “Charlie Hebdo” prove that terrorist organisations could act anywhere and anytime so it’s harder for secret services to prevent it.
We will see how the tragedy of Munich happened, what the main reasons and consequences are.
We are the September 5th 1972 at 4.30 am, 8 terrorists of the Palestinian organization “Black September” go into the Olympic village after climbing the grating and penetrate into the Israeli athlete’s room. Some members of the Israeli Olympic team try to defend themselves by attacking back the terrorists but two of them are killed. However, several Israeli athletes escape from their rooms or hide in the apartments.
The terrorists take in hostage 9 Israeli athletes (most are wrestling or weightlifting fighters) and begin to negotiate with German authorities. They want the release of 234 Palestinian activists and two German terrorists but this demand is refused by Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister, who doesn’t want to negotiate with terrorists. German negotiators offer a lot of money to the Palestinian activists but they don’t accept it because they say they don’t care about money and their lives neither.
It’s very hard for German negotiators to find an agreement because Israeli government doesn’t want to negotiate. In this situation the only possibility to save hostages lives is to use force, so German police prepare a plan to release Israeli athletes and to kill the terrorists.
After hours of negotiation with German representatives, Palestinian activists want to go to Cairo with their hostages and order a plane to German authorities who accept but also prepare an ambush against the terrorists. The plan is to put some policemen in the plane dress as an airplane crew to kill a part of the terrorists and let the five snipers, hided around the runway, eliminate the last one.
But there are two big problems unexpected by German authorities:
-The first one concern the number of terrorists. The negotiators ask to see the hostages to be sure that they still alive. Terrorists accept this demand but when negotiators come back after the encounter with Palestinian and Israeli hostages they think that there are about four or five terrorists instead of eight.
-The second problem is about the mission given to policemen in the plane who leave it and don't tell their superiors about this change.
With this two unexpected events, there are five snipers (not training for this speciality) against eight terrorists with more materials and very determined!
After inspecting the plane, Black September fighters see the trap of German authorities (the plane is empty) and snipers start to shoot the terrorists to prevent a bad reaction against hostages. Some of the activists are killed but those who are not, kill the hostages and one German policeman in the control tower. Finally, eight of the terrorists has been shot and three has been captured by the police.
The whole eleven Israeli athletes passed away during this sad operation.
Reasons of this attack:
For the terrorist Organization “Black September” it’s a revenge of the “Six Day War” in 1967. This short war forced Arab countries (Jordan, Syria, and Egypt) to recognize Israel as a country. Moreover, Palestinians are under Israeli occupation at this time so it’s an absence of freedom for this people.
Then, in September 1970 Jordanian army bombarded some refugee camps after the wish of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) to take power in Jordan. Plenty of Palestinian, civils and fighters, died during this operations and should flee to Lebanon. That make this people angrier against Israel and Jewish religion.
I talked about political reasons but another fact explain also this hostage-taking.
The absence of security during the Olympics in Munich is alarming. After the last Olympics organised in Berlin in 1936 by the Nazi Regime, this country want to show a nice and peaceful image. The police is very discreet and unarmed in the Olympic village so it's easy for Palestinian fighters to come into the basement of athletes. The atmosphere is really nice during the first weeks of the Olympics until this events. Even if Olympics safety services and police have some armed guards not visible in public, they don’t know how to fight against this new form of terror. In this case, unfortunately it's almost sure a catastrophe will happen during the hostage release attempt.
Moreover, the material of German soldiers is not efficient enough because they don't have optics or night vision devices, radio to synchronize their shots and they are less than terrorists (five against eight).
This terrible event had some consequences few days and also years later for many people.
On the September 6th, a memorial ceremony is held but the IOC (International Olympic Committee) President don't mention the names of murdered athletes.This Olympics event are broadcasted in many countries and give a bad image of German authorities after this reaction against terrorism.
Then, the three surviving Palestinian murderers went to jail but were released only few months later after the demand of terrorists during an hostage-taking against German airlines company Lufthansa.
On September 9th, planes from Israeli air force bombarded basements of PLO in Syria and Lebanon killing about 200 people.
Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir secretly gave her agreement to the Mossad (Israeli secret services) to track and kill terrorists in Europe involved in the hostage-taking. The Mossad has look for them during decades and killed two of the three terrorists of “Black September” and other members of the PLO during the operation “Wrath of God”.
Finally, to fight against terrorism, many countries create some specialized groups and one of the most famous is the GIGN. This group was created in 1973 in France to prevent further terrorist attacks and also to fight against organized crime.
We went to Allstatt on sunday to visit this lovely town. When you arrived by train from Salzburg you just cross the lake by ship to reach this wonderful city. You can see on this pictures how the landscapes or beautiful with the lake and this pretty high mountains.
We walk in the street and then we climbed about 1 hour to have a nice point of view. The ascent is pretty slippery but it was a nice moment.
Of course between all this active moments we have eaten some good food :) On the evening it was time to go back to Salzburg. We woke up on monday to visit Salzbourg, the city of Mozart.
We began by the house where this prodigy were born in 1756. It was interesting to see his stature in this city during several years until he moved to Wien.
After this visit, I went with my american friend to the "Museum of Nature and Technique" to see some very various stuff about planets, snakes, geology...
On the evening we had a train to come back to Germany and my new home town Mosbach :)
An active and historical week end with fun moments!
Hello guys! Ready to learn or see again about German geopolitic situation?
In Germany, the Chancellor have all the power and is the chief of the Government. He is not elected directly by the population as in France or USA for instance but often by a coalition of several parties when not any party has the majority in the “Bundestag”. This parties are represented in the “Bundestag”, which is the German Parliament and the more powerful party from this coalition choose a Chancellor. Nowadays, Angela Merkel is the German Chancellor. She was the leader of the CDU and she has been elected in 2005 with a coalition CDU/CSU. Angela Merkel has been reelected in 2009 and 2013 with the same coalition CDU/CSU. Currently, there is a coalition even bigger with the CDU, CSU and SPD which is the party of the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The President of Germany named Joachim Gauck doesn’t have a real political power however he is an important moral person who promulgate laws and sign treaties. He doesn’t belong to a party so he is considered as a neutral politician.
German population is mainly peaceful because of German past (Nazi regime) and the Bundestag should often give his authorization for a military intervention. However, German army named „die Bundeswehr“ is present in several countries in the world to help the OTAN action and also to protect his expatriated citizens. Several years ago, Germany put some soldiers and missiles at the border between Syria and Turkey to avoid Syrian attacks. “Die Bundeswehr” has also soldiers in war areas as Mali for example and was in Afghanistan just few months ago to fight against the Taliban’s regime.
Nowadays, German army is concerned by the Ukrainian problem and try to find solutions of peace with the European community.Germany is dependent of Russia for the deliveries of gas and oil so Angela Merkel has to be tactful with our friendly Vladimir Putin!
After a summary of German political system and military missions, we have to see a particular place very famous for everyone J
Mosbach is a town located in the State of Baden-Württemberg (south-west of Germany). The third largest state of Germany is governed by a coalition of Green and SPD parties.Baden Württemberg is divided in four Administrative districts named Freiburg, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Tubingen. Stuttgart is the capital city of Baden Württemberg and the 6th biggest city of Germany with more than 600 000 inhabitants.
Many cities in this State use the river named “Neckar” like Mosbach-Neckarelz or Neckarsulm for example. Baden Württemberg has borders with several countries as Switzerland and France but also with internal State as Bavaria, Hesse and Rhénanie-Palatinat. Baden Württemberg is a wealthy state with a very high level of employment due to big companies factories and headquarters as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz for instance.
In Mosbach and in the area around there are a lot of Croatian and Portuguese people because of the need of workers after the second world war. But this nationalities are not the more represented in Germany.
In Germany, there are more than 3 million of Turkish people who arrived in the sixties and years after to find some jobs. Turkish people who immigrate in Germany are often not considered as German in Germany and also as Turkish in Turkey so it’s a difficult situation for them. There are some tensions between Turkish and neo-Nazis in Germany because of the Muslim religion of Turkish people. Nevertheless, most of Turkish people are well integrated in their new country particularly the last generation. Many German people with Turkish origins have succeed in Germany like the famous soccer player Mesut Özil and other businessmen.
Germany is touched by another internal problem like many countries in Occident which is more serious. Some of German citizens go fighting to Syria or Iraq with the Islamic State and after come back to Germany. With this trip back there are some dangers of terrorists’ attacks because of the radicalization and the military training in Middle-East. We can consider this fact of a main tension because Muslim community is threatened by extremism and racism acts after terrorists attacks. To avoid this main problem, German government would like to forbid German nationality to this fighters by taking their ID card.
Germany, like every country, has social rituals who make his own identity.Let see together some of German customs:
First, German people eat early (around 6 pm for the dinner) which is much sooner than in France and even later in Spain.
Then, punctuality is very important in Germany although it’s a stereotype it’s also right in the real life.German people are often well organized because they want to do the job perfectly. For foreigners they can be seen as direct and not diplomatic but it’s how they work.
Afterwards, in Germany it’s essential to respect the environment so they really care about waste processing and you can even exchange glass or plastic bottles with money.
When we talk about Germany several things are in our mind as symbols. I would like to talk about main symbols according to me but there are not the only one.
The first one is the Brandenburg Gate which is located in Berlin. During the Berlin Wall period, it was impossible to cross the Brandenburg Gate. So today, this Gate is a symbol of freedom and a lot of political people have visited this place in memory of the events during the cold war.
Then, we can’t forget Berlin, capital city of Germany, almost 9 times bigger than Paris, important for politic and other activities. Main politics places like the Bundestag are situated in Berlin but this city is also worldwide famous for his art, represented by a lot of music festivals and artists.
Another symbol, a little different, is the pretzel. If you ask someone what is typical German food, the answer is often pretzel. But my German teacher in Heidelberg told us something interesting not known by most of people: the pretzel was at the beginning Turkish and after was exported to Austria and then to Germany. Not so typical finally!
And of course I can’t finish without mention the main beverage in Germany. In Russia, vodka is like water and in Germany it’s the same but with bier! This drink is so important for German people that they celebrate it during a special event.
“Oktoberfest” held in Munich, capital city of Bavaria’s state, between the end of September and close two weeks later. Millions of people come to Germany to drink some beer and have fun every year. The Oktoberfest is a very old traditional event who has begun in 1810.
German people celebrate also Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. Christianity is the most represented religion in Germany with around 62 % believer so this feast have a meaning for a lot of people.
Saint Nicholas is also important for Germans and they celebrate it on December 6th. Saint Nicholas is during the “Advent period” which begin around 4 Sunday before Christmas. It’s a celebration loved by children because they can receive plenty of gifts from the Santa Claus.
Germany like to feast some enjoyable events but also some historical and political events.
There is the German unity day, celebrated the 3rd of October every year to commemorate the German reunification between East and West Germany in 1990. The 3rd of October is a holiday date for Germany.
To conclude, I would like to speak about a celebration known all over the world but different in Germany. I am thinking about traditional German weddings which last around 3 days. The wedding start with a civil ceremony where family members and close friends are there. Then it’s time to have fun on the evening until the night with more friends. On the third day, the religious wedding ceremony takes place in a Church. At the end of the ceremony, when married couple leave the church, they throw coins to the children. And then it’s the official wedding reception.
This is a part of German culture and I didn’t tell you all of it but be patient and see you for the next article J
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