With the Greek crisis being played out before our eyes, Germany is being accused of a variety of draconian policies and taking a hard line against Greece, and by extension the Greek people, to further Germany's aims. Many have brought up WWII as an example of how the Nazis forced the Greek central bank to provide loans to Germany during World War II after pillaging the country and massacring Greeks, leaving countless orphans and a destitute and starving population in its wake. Yet worn torn nations forgave Germany's war debt to help Germany get back on its feet, so to speak. But as Greek officials and Spiegel Online point out, Germany never paid back the loans Greece was forced to make to the Nazis. According to economist Michael Hudson, the most successful debt jubilee in recent times was gifted to Germany, the country now most opposed to doing the same for Greece. The German Economic Miracle followed massive debt forgiveness by the Allies. Yet, Germany shows zero empathy for Greece to relieve her debt. (See links below)
Germany's disregard for Greek lives didn't begin during WWII, however. It can also be traced back to WWI. For Germany, any policy that advanced its economic or commercial interests, no matter how horrendous and inhumane was and, apparently, still is acceptable.
Just prior to WWI, Talaat and Enver, two of the three key Pashas ruling the Ottoman Empire's Young Turk Party, formally known as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), were firmly committed to Germany's vision ... at least the part they thought they understood. As Minister of War, Enver suggested that the German General, Otto Liman von Sanders, be appointed Inspector General. It gave von Sanders an extraordinary amount of control over the Ottoman military. According to U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., Germany dragged Turkey into the Great War with the support of only a few of those top Young Turk officials. It was a war the Ottomans were poorly equipped to fight.
At least one month before the Ottomans openly declared war on 29 October, 1914, Germany's growing control over the Empire became clear. Germany was already requisitioning Ottoman supplies in Germany's name for her own use. Referring to a September 29, 1914 document for the requisitioning of a shipload of oil cake, the German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Baron von Wangenheim (1912-1915), boasted to Morgenthau that he had requisitioned the lot by the steamship Derindje for the German Government. To Morgenthau, this proved "Germany was exercising the powers of sovereignty at Constantinople."
It wasn't the only thing Germany and the Young Turks were requisitioning. The confiscation of farm animals and everything else needed for the war left citizens destitute and starving. And without their men who were drafted for the war, there was no one to work the land or care for the family, which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, not only on the battlefield, but at home. Soldiers were sent to fight poorly dressed for war. Some had no shoes, and reports of Turkish soldiers pounding on doors and begging for bread were rampant. Morgenthau reported: "The Turkish Government paid its soldiers 25 cents a month, and gave the families a separation allowance of $1.20 a month. As a result thousands were dying from lack of food and many more were enfeebled by malnutrition."
So where do the Greeks come into the picture? Indigenous Greeks had lived in what became Turkey for over three millennia, two millennia before the first Turkish tribes invaded. German historian, Hilmar Kaiser, collected German World War I propaganda that "was addressed to both Ottoman and German audiences" in which both Anatolian Greeks and Armenians were targeted. Kaiser writes, "the mass murder of Armenians had opened up new opportunities for German trade and investment." This held true for the mass murder and displacement of Ottoman Greeks and Assyrians as well, as noted in The Times headline: "Extermination of Greeks in Turkey. A German Plot Disclosed." German engineering of the genocidal policies against the Anatolian Greeks was widely recognized.
M. Politis, Minister for Foreign Affairs, today laid before the Chamber four new documents proving conclusively that the persecutions of which the Greeks at Aivali and in other parts of Asia Minor were the victims were carried out in accordance with a plan for the extermination of the Greek race in Turkey devised by the German General Staff, which aided and supervised its execution.
Greek men were conscripted into labor battalions where they were worked and starved to death--again leaving women, children and the aged to fend for themselves--and whole Greek villages were emptied with no provisions for the survival. In fact, to insure their demise, it was forbidden to buy or sell to the displaced Greeks, or help them in any way. In some areas of Anatolia, the Greeks were simply massacred.
With King Constantine I on the throne of Greece, Germany was sure Greece would not protest against the annihilation of the Greeks under Ottoman rule. Or, if she did, make only token protestations for appearances. Born of Danish and Russian parentage, but more importantly, married to the sister of the Germany kaiser, Wilhelm II, Constantine would make sure Greece would also remain neutral during WWI while he was king, a war planned by Germany and Austria.
As late as June 1, 1918, Greek massacres were continuing. As the Chicago Daily Tribune reported: "Million Greeks are massacred: Thrown into Sea - Germans Made the Turk More Efficient in His Murders."
At least 1,000,000 Greeks, men, women, and children have perished as a result of organized massacres and deportations by 'the Turco-Teutons' in Asiatic Turkey, ... 'Those of us who were between the ages of 16 and 60 were drafted into the army,' Macrides said. 'Our women and children and the older men were placed temporarily in homes and orphanages until the time when the opportunity offered to dispose of them in the approved Turco-Teuton fashion, which in this instance turned out to be by wholesale drowning.'
Morgenthau reported that the Young Turks were so successful against the Greeks, they decided to go after the other Christian 'races' as well, the Armenians and Assyrians. Between 1913-1923, Greek deaths amounted to over one million, 353,000 of whom were Pontic Greeks, Assyrians 275,000, and Armenians 1.5 million, bringing the total Christian deaths to three millions or more.
This is not meant to imply that the Ottoman Turks are off the hook for the mass murder of their Christians subjects. According to then German Minister at Athens, Baron Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim (1909-12), as early as July 24, 1909, the Young Turks had already decided to "wage a war of extermination against the Christians of the Empire. .. They would begin in the heartland of Anatolia, where Turkey had the greatest control, and where outsiders had the least access to observe what was being done to the Christians." The Young Turks were apparently waiting for a convenient moment. The Great War and Germany gave them that moment. With such control in Turkey, Germany could have prevented the mass murder and displacement of Anatolian Greeks. Instead, as The Times reported, the "German General Staff, .... aided and supervised its execution."
As British historian Arnold Toynbee understood it:
Germany's economic activity in Turkey has been not for prosperity but for power, not for peace but for war. In developing Turkey, Germany is simply developing the 'Central Europe' scheme of a military combine self-contained economically and challenging the world in arms. Germany is concerned with Turkey, not for her splendid past and future, but for her miserable present; for Turkey--as she is, and only as she is--is a vital chequer on the chess-board where Germany has been playing her game of world power, or "des staatlich-machtlichen Interessens," as Dr. Wiedenfeld would say. Therefore Germany does not eye the lands and peoples under Ottoman dominion with a view to their common advantage and her own. She selects a "piece" among them which she can keep under her thumb and so control the square. [Sultan] Abd-ul-Hamid was her first pawn, and when the Young Turk Party swept him off the board she adopted them and their colour; for by hook or by crook, through this agency or that, Turkey had to be commanded or Germany's play was spoilt.
As Greece's largest stakeholder and most obstinate negotiator, Germany now had her way. As Toynbee pointed out during the WWI period, "She [Germany] selects a 'piece' among them which she can keep under her thumb and so control the square." The representative of that piece, former-Greek Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis was the first casualty. That the Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, actually asked Varoufakis to step aside for further negotiations probably revealed too great a weakness on Greece's part. Apparently, Varoufakis didn't fit under Germany's thumb. Closing the banks and making the demands placed on Greece even more onerous then before Syriza was elected, seemed to calculate a rebellion by the Greek people to get rid of Syriza as well. The demand for privatization of even more Greek public assets further strips Greece of the ability to make revenue from those assets. In fact, Greece is being ransacked and left unprotected, like a house with no windows and doors. Even then, the IMF and a number of top economists admit that Greece's debt is unsustainable. So when will the roof be demanded? As Ellen Brown points out, the Greek debt can be cut without hurting the bondholders.
A coup d'état certainly seems an appropriate term to use. Or as Varoufakis termed it, "political terrorism". The suffering of the Greek people, who bear the brunt of this terrorism, has fallen on deaf ears.
You have to give Germany credit for one thing, however. After two failed world wars, they've finally learned how to wage war without troops, without military machinery and the great financial burden that entails, and without leaving visible, gaping wounds and millions of dead bodies and demolished houses scattered around the world. Germany also no longer has a need for concentration camps and crematoriums. Germany can now wreck the lives of millions of people and take over whole countries without any of those unsightly signs of war. And unlike Germany's last two wars, its new method of waging war has Germany's reputation somewhat battered for some, but for others Germany is praised as a tough but justified negotiator. The new propaganda against the "lazy Greeks" is working in some camps, even though, while the former Greek government was not blameless, all roads lead to Goldman Sachs. Were EU officials too inept to notice something was wrong with Greece's accounting? Or was there something more sinister at play when they ignored what some say were obvious signs? Whatever the answer to those questions, Germany has learned it's much easier and cheaper to wage war and dominate whole nations through finance! Ah! The new world order!
For a further understanding of the Greek debt crisis, the following websites are recommended: