THE GERMAN EMPIRE

Blome, Böll, Kuntz, Kurbjuweit, Mayr, von Rohr, Scheuermann & Schult, Der Spiegel, March 23, 2015

For

many years, it was primarily Germany that obsessed over its guilt-ridden past. Increasingly, other nations are joining in. People have begun referring to Germany as the “Fourth Reich”, a reference to Germany’s Nazi history. Is this absurd or is there some validity to the point? The term reich refers to an empire that exerts control over many people. Accordingly, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would likely classify Germany as a reich. He argues that the eurozone crisis allowed Germany the opportunity to dominate Southern Europe and suffocate it in order to impose its economic policies. Fittingly, German export policies ensure that it has profited from the crisis more than any other nation. Germany’s image has become that of an “egotistical economic occupier” to those who have suffered mass unemployment and humiliation at the hands of its policies.

However, surveys taken by citizens overseas indicate that Germany is still widely respected abroad. Nevertheless, no one seems afraid to cry ‘Nazi!’ when its policies become uncomfortable. Likewise, Germany has been tentative to exert geopolitical dominance as a result of its past. That is why the “German question” has returned: Is Germany too big and powerful for other European countries or is it too small and wary to assume power? In a world dominated by economic issues, analysts agree that Germany clearly leads the eurozone. While it is not responsible for solving the economic problems of other nations, it would behoove Germany to accept the leadership position it has unwillingly filled. With that, Germany must stop acting with only its self-interest in mind. Only then will it be easier to make meaningful progress in Europe.

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This is the old German problem: The Germans are too strong to be ignored and too weak to impose their will… It will be interesting to see whether their will can hold when their strength is insufficient.George Friedman, Stratfor, February 10, 2015
Smale & Yardley, The New York Times, March 12, 2015
Josef Janning, European Council on Foreign Relations, November 11, 2014
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THE GERMAN EMPIRE

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