Dr. Radu Golban (PhD Econ.) was born in 1973 in Timişoara and graduated from the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg (Faculty of Philosophy) in Germany with a degree in Political Science and Law in 2000.
– Masters in Advanced European Studies (2002), European Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland.
– PhD in Economics, subject: Monetary Integration (2008).
– Has completed numerous courses on European integration.
– His research and teaching at the Şcoala de Înalte Studii Economice Comparative and the West University of Timişoara culminated in two books of which he is the chief author and over twenty publications and press articles in reputable journals.
– Books published: “Eurosistemul: o tensiune arhitecturală a convergenţei”, authors: Radu GOLBAN and Grigore SILAŞI, Editura Economică, 2009; “Uniunea Economică şi Monetară încotro?”, authors: Radu GOLBAN and Mihaela Brînduşa TUDOSE, Editura Economică, 2010.
Corneliu Vlad is a member of the Romanian Writers’ Union and has authored books including “Pentru ca soarele să nu răsară dinspre asfinţit”; “Când luptătorii îşi curăţă armele”; “Vietnamul cel de toate zilele”; “Vom trăi în anul 2000”; “Lumea în mişcare, încotro?”; “Generalul Lebed, vecinul nostru”; “Reconcilierea”; “Cuba: zece sfidări”; “Iranul la rece”; “Rusia după URSS” and “Şi totuşi, revoluţia română”.
During a career in journalism spanning more than forty-five years, Corneliu Vlad has published numerous articles, comments and analyses concerning international affairs and politics in magazines such as Lumea, Contemporanul, Match Bucureşti and Clipa and daily newspapers such as România Liberă, Curentul and Realitatea Românească.
He has served as a press correspondent in Vietnam, Laos, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, a correspondent of Agence France-Presse in Bucharest and a special envoy of the UN, the OSCE, NATO, the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Council of Europe, among other bodies. He has also worked with various news agencies and radio/TV channels.
[p. 9] FOREWORD
The crisis that has engulfed the world since 2008, whose effects we Romanians are still feeling today, has raised a number of problems big and small for both the European Union as an institution and, to varying degrees, each of its member states. If the crisis has not called the Union’s very existence into question, this is not only because the glue that binds the organization together came from contemporary issues of fundamental importance, but also because the Union itself was a solution hit upon by the nations of Europe as a way of drawing a line under a bloody past to which they did not wish to return. To escape from this chapter in their history, however, Europeans had had to endure the wars of continental supremacy between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and even two world wars, both of which originated in Europe. The solution had been suggested as far back as the early nineteenth century and was borne out of the wisdom acquired by a great military commander at the end of a life devoted to conquest – Napoleon Bonaparte, by now in exile on the island of Saint Helena – who pointed to the path that had to be followed. Europe, he said, cannot be conquered; it must be won over.
These were the solid foundations upon which the European Union was built.
Today’s crisis has forced the institutions of the European Union and the governments of the member states to take measures to safeguard the future of the EU as an institution, the euro and the interests of each of the twenty-seven member states. The latter include the country that acts as the driving force of the European Union, often side by side with France: Germany, which has the biggest economy in Europe and one of the largest in the world, is the world’s third-biggest exporter and fourth-biggest importer, is ranked sixth in the world in terms of GDP, has the largest population of any EU country and is also the biggest contributor to the EU budget. These factors have led two well-known American analysts – Peter Zeihan and Marko Papic from Stratfor – to believe that “Europe cannot function as a unified entity unless someone is in control. At present, Germany is the only country with a large enough economy and population to achieve that control.”
Much consistency may be observed between Germany’s current international standing and its past. For this reason, I cannot but agree with Angela Merkel, the current Federal Chancellor, who once said that “Germany’s role in the world is as old as Germany itself.”
This role, along with all of its good, not-so-good and even regrettable aspects, is analysed in a professional manner in “Europe: The German Matrix”, taking the nineteenth century as the starting-point and continuing to the present day, in conversations between the journalistCorneliu Vlad and Radu Golban, a doctor of economics. In this book, the reader will find the ideas of German thinkers with regard to Germany’s interests and ambitions in Europe (with particular emphasis on central, eastern and south-eastern Europe), which were couched in such deceptive terms as Mitteleuropa, Lebensraum, Großraumwirtschaft and Neue Ordnung (let us not forget that the founder of geopolitics was, by no coincidence, a German – Friedrich Ratzel), and military action intended to assert German supremacy over these territories, and larger areas besides, in the political, economic, cultural and other spheres.
Within this framework, the book also examines such matters as Germany’s attitude towards the regions inhabited by Romanians, the development of Romanian-German relations, the significance of a dynasty of German origin being installed in Romania in 1866, and the role of the alliance forged in 1883 by Romania with the powers of the Triple Alliance (within which the German Empire was dominant) in the protection of Romania’s independence and territorial integrity in the face of Russian expansionism.
Although the end of the First World War spelt defeat for Germany, the underlying principles of German policy on central, eastern and south-eastern Europe changed little. However, the rise to power of the Nazi regime added new strands to Germany’s policy on Europe, among other things. These included racism, an unquenchable thirst for territorial expansion, a heightened sense of German superiority accompanied by disdain for other nations and the pre-eminence of violence in international relations. In essence, the “European unity” that was spoken of during the Nazi era was in fact a “Pax Germanica”. The means by which it was to be achieved were violent, even if some representatives of the regime such as Ernst von Weizsäcker, who at that time was State Secretary at the German Foreign Office, spoke of a douce violence. The true nature of the “European unity” envisaged by Hitler was, for the most part, kept hidden from the nations of Europe and was to be unmasked officially only after the Axis powers had won the war.
Which, fortunately, did not happen!
The Second World War ended in unconditional surrender for Germany, military occupation, territorial losses, partitioning into two separate nations, an influx of immigrants from the eastern territories it had lost and the deaths of millions, leaving the country in ruins and its economy in tatters. In addition, there was also the danger of Communism, which threatened the whole of Europe. Many of the hardships borne by Germany in the wake of its defeat were shared by the victorious western Europe. It was against the background of these common problems and dangers that a defeated and divided Germany sat down at the table with the western European victors. Democratic rebuilding was a shared goal.
We must not, however, forget that Europe – especially France, but also Germany’s other neighbours – had a vested interest in taking control of Germany’s rebuilding with cooperation from Germany itself.
Thus it was that the European Coal and Steel Community made up of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg was born. It has since become the European Union, whose members now number twenty-seven.
Of course, some aspects of the concept of European unity are of German origin, as is capably demonstrated and argued in this book, just as contributions have been made by other European nations. In this regard, I am pleased to highlight the important contributions made by Romania, which demonstrate that the “European idea” is by no means beyond the imagination of Romanian political thinkers. I shall limit myself to mentioning Grigore Gafencu, who campaigned for European unity both during and after the Second World War and was elected president of the Union of European Federalists in 1956.
As for the place and role in modern Europe of Germany, which now stands reunited after more than half a century, Radu Golban has this to say: “The idea of Europe (…) without Germany as protagonist is unthinkable. Not only can Germany’s role in Europe not be ignored, it is also pre-eminent. This is attested to by history, and the country’s economic clout and demographic weight prove it.” Golban concludes by asking a question whose answer is subtly and elegantly suggested: “In such a situation, is it possible for a state to escape the temptation of Germany?”
Each reader may suggest his own answer. An answer with regard to Germany’s dependence on economic union was given by Angela Merkel in 2002, when she was a minister in Helmut Kohl’s government, shortly before she was elected Chancellor of Germany: “There are few European countries whose future depends as much as Germany’s on the furtherance of European integration, precisely because of its critical proportions.”
The German interest acknowledged by Merkel is also demonstrated by the most recent data available to us. While it is true that Germany is the biggest contributor to the EU budget, it is also the biggest beneficiary. For every euro paid into the cohesion policy account set up for “peripheral states” (new EU members), it gets back 1.25 euros. Thanks to their exports to four states that joined the EU in 2004 (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), the fifteen members of the EU netted 75 billion euros through the cohesion policy for the 2007-2013 period.
But let us also note an issue that Golban recently raised with regard to the “historic debt” that Germany owes to Romania because of the clearing relationship that existed between the two countries from 1936 to 1941, which is revisited and argued in this book. This now amounts to approximately 18 billion euros which Romania is owed by Germany.
Then there is the similar case of Greece which, because of the occupation marks issued by the occupying German authorities between 1941 and 1944, is claiming 54 billion euros (and recently, claims that the debt amounts to as much as 70 billion euros have surfaced in the Greek press).
I shall end this description of a breathtaking book with Golban’s assessment of Romania’s current position in the European Union: “Modern-day Romania in the European Union is autistic and ineffectual, and forever lacking in specific ideas and plans. In particular, it should promote its national interests and develop plans relating to central and south-eastern Europe, the Danube region, the Black Sea region, the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine. Romania must not rush into ambitious plans to build Europe (…) It would do better to define its precise position and policies vis-à-vis the USA, Russia, China, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Arab world and the rest of the world. By virtue of its geographic and cultural situation, Romania could acquire regional political weight and shake off its usual image as a country on Europe’s periphery to become a gateway between East and West.”
Critical and harsh though it may seem, his judgment is an accurate one.
Prof. Ion Calafeteanu
[p. 13] EXPLANATION OF THE MOTTO
The motto of this book, which comes from Heinrich Heine and was stumbled across while the book was being written, is perhaps a more accurate and effective summary than any scholarly explanations I could give of the message that I would like these pages to convey: what is Europe to Germany, and what is Germany to Europe? Neither can be understood, in terms of its creation, unless one also understands the other.
Halfway through the nineteenth century, when the German poet Heinrich Heine wrote “Germany: A Winter’s Tale” (two stanzas of which serve as the motto for this book) while living in France, the concept of the United Europe that we know today was barely beginning to take shape and to be foreshadowed. Sandwiched between France and Russia, which both ruled sizeable swathes of territory overseas or in their own back yards (“The earth belongs to the Russians and French”), and alongside the British Empire (“The sea belongs to England”), Germany, which was a great power even before it became a unified state, ruled over nothing more than “an airy realm of dreams”. This “airy realm of dreams” is now the European Union, of which the Germans are the“uncontested lords”. The poet emphasizes that “that’s where we rule” – in Europe, that is. “The other nations had to be content to develop mundanely on the ground.” Germany’s mission is, therefore, a singular and exceptional one (“Germany is an abnormal country”, as people say), and nowhere other than in Europe can this mission be envisaged and undertaken, for the good of Europe or otherwise. The purpose of the European Union is to embody what is right and proper for Europe.
But Europe and United Europe are heading in different directions. In terms of its history and geography, the European continent is a concrete reality, with all of its good and bad points. The construct of United Europe is a project that is constantly developing, but if we look beyond the symbolic manifestations of unity created by those who crafted the European Union, we see that it is, in fact, a nebulous project whose goals differ from those normally proclaimed by the magnanimous and humanistic words that reach the public’s ears. The official group photograph of United Europe is merely a hologram. This book will explain how and why.
The story of United Europe is not unlike the tale told by Andersen: everyone can see that the Emperor is naked, but out of political correctness, everyone says that he is wearing magnificent robes. And so it is that the space between the British Isles and eastern Europe is developing on two parallel planes: the real one, and the make-believe one that we call the European Union. This make-believe plane embellished with positive phrases, which is firmly anchored in an outdated view of natural law and much twisting of the truth, is of German origin. It is an imagined perception of what is good for Europe and is embroidered with German attention to detail, earnestness, conscientiousness and tenacity. It is the “airy realm” in Heine’s poem, but it stems from an entirely pragmatic vision adopted by Berlin, Weimar, Bonn and Berlin once again. This vision has been implemented as a policy, sometimes successfully, sometimes with disastrous consequences and sometimes with dubious interpretations of the principle of justice, with remarkable consistency and continuity over time. The phrase “United Europe” is, therefore, closely linked to the notion of justice and fairness, and it is with this in mind that we propose, in this book, to delineate the bounds of this virtual space between illusion and disillusion.Hans Kelsen, an outstanding legal scholar whose profound observations set him apart, argued that this problem of justice arises out of the eternal question asked by Pilate: “What is truth?”“No other question (than justice) has been discussed so passionately, no other question has caused so much precious blood and so many bitter tears to be shed; no other question has been the object of so much intensive thinking by the most illustrious from Plato to Kant; and yet, this question is today as unanswered as it ever was. It seems that it is one of those questions to which the resigned wisdom applies that man cannot find a definitive answer, but can only try to improve the question.”
The global crisis, from which Europe has not been spared, is highlighting the essential disconnect between Europe of old and United Europe, and demands less orthodox analysis. That is the intention of this book. It takes the form of a dialogue, but it is not the transcript of a lengthy chat between the two co-authors – an academic and author specializing in economics and political science and a journalist with nearly fifty years’ experience. The conversational format adopted for this book also allows room for their ideas, analyses, questions and attitudes, which have already been expounded on various occasions in articles, books, television programmes, conferences and elsewhere. To call this text a Socratic dialogue would be pretentious; rather, it may be likened to discussions outside a coffee shop in a public square between European townsmen of the last few centuries, newspapers in hand. Denis de Rougemont, the European federalist from Switzerland, could not imagine a European atmosphere without a central square overlooked by a town hall and the other institutions that every town should have, including, of necessity, a café with newspapers and customers who are chatting away. This book may thus be thought of as a series of discussions about matters of public interest between debaters, light-hearted exchanges, brainstorming sessions or conversations reminiscent of Mitică in Caragiale’s “Momente” or Moromete in Marin Preda’s “Poiana lui Iocan”.
One other point that must be made is that this book was written in good faith; it is not anti-German. It aim is merely to make a necessary correction to political and public discourse which is distorted but widespread, and in some people’s eyes true dogma, and so to help identify the best way in which the fervently-desired relationship between Germany and Europe can work. Unfortunately, this relationship is being meddled with on the one hand by a plethora of subterfuges of German official or public origin designed to mask plans and policies whose goals are influence-spreading and expansion, and on the other hand by the prejudices of other “Europeans”, be they allies, competitors, rivals or enemies of Germany, over the course of time.
Whether one takes an optimistic or a pessimistic view of it, the relationship between Germany and Europe is characterized by heavily-distorted imagery. For this reason, German readers of this book might wonder, just as the hero of Goethe’s “Faust” did: “How would it hurt you to learn one day / What others know…”, or about the“sense”or “folly”which, in this book, is represented by Germany’s European policy over almost the last two centuries and its remarkable continuity. “The devil is old”, jokes Goethe’s character, who exhorts us to “Grow old so that you can understand him.”
Diderot, the French encyclopaedist, said that before embarking on a discussion, one must agree on its terms. That is what this book sets out to do.
The authors hasten to thank the family of exemplary editors made up of Vasile Simileanu, a doctor of political science,and the architect Cristina Simileanu for helping to bring this project to fruition.
One of the authors of this book is grateful to his wife Margareta and his son Andrei for the patience with which they stood by him during his labours. Corneliu Vlad also pays homage to the memory of the great journalists who were his mentors:George Ivaşcu, Ion Cârje and Mircea Ivănescu.
The other author thanks his wife Raluca for the perseverance with which she listened to his ideas and his daughter Viviane for the cheerful baby talk that brightened up his days and boosted his inspiration. For opening his eyes to a socio-political perspective on economic ideas, Radu Golban gives special thanks to the supervisor of his doctoral thesis, Professor Grigore Silaşi.
To repudiate any ill-fated policy disguised in the robes of humanism as a source of inspiration and a credo for a fairer world is to be true to the spirit of ideological criticism kindled by the peerless Hans Kelsen.
[p. 17] GERMANY’S EUROPEAN POLICY
Europe and the world are in crisis. Some people are questioning whether the European Union and the euro have a future. The twenty-seven member states of the EU must take some form of action to save United Europe and the euro, and some of them must act simply to save themselves. In the end, the decisions on the continent’s future will be taken by the European driving force that is France and Germany, and ultimately by Germany. Besides being Europe’s top economic performer, Germany also ranks among the world’s strongest economies, is the world’s third-biggest exporter and fourth-biggest importer, and boasts the world’s sixth-highest GDP. It is also the biggest contributor to the EU budget. Its Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, once wrote that “Germany’s role in the world is as old as Germany itself.” Claudio Magris, the Italian author, observed: “Nowadays, to reflect on Europe is to reflect on one’s relationship with Germany.”
In this extensive discussion of ours, we shall draw as liberally as possible on the output of German authors past and present, including economists, historians, politicians and statesmen. Our initial premise was that French, British and Russian authors in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe, those of a Jewish background and so on might be subjective or visceral in their writings. This being said, it is interesting to recall the assessment of two analysts at the Stratfor Institute in the USA, Peter Zeihan and Marko Papic, who in July 2011 summed up the relationship between Germany and the EU as follows: “Europe cannot function as a unified entity unless someone is in control. At present, Germany is the only country with a large enough economy and population to achieve that control.” A year ago, Peter Zeihan observed that as the European Union’s anchor member, Germany cuts an impressive figure – but, he added, this is not the “union” that the rest of Europe signed up for. In its current form, the EU is in fact the Mitteleuropa that the rest of Europe remembers all too well.
– The idea of Europe – not necessarily united, but as a continental entity – without Germany as protagonist is unthinkable. Not only can Germany’s role in Europe not be ignored, it is also pre-eminent. This is attested to by history, and the country’s economic clout and demographic weight prove it. Germany has a population in excess of 80 million, making it Europe’s most populous state, and German is the mother tongue of roughly 100 million Europeans. Of the total population of the European Union, which is made up of twenty-seven states, Germans account for about a fifth. Germany is densely populated, with 229 inhabitants per square kilometre, and heavily urbanized, with 90% of people living in towns. The country occupies a central location in Europe between two other long-standing powers – France and Russia – and now has borders with nine European states. It has two stretches of coastline along the Baltic and North Seas and thirteen international airports, with 30 million passengers passing through Frankfurt Airport every year. The Rhine-Danube Canal promises to become an important economic corridor. In addition, Germany lies at the centre of a network of energy pipelines that bring in oil and gas from all directions to the refineries in the Ruhr and Saxony, and the Nord Stream pipeline delivers a significant influx of energy from Russia. In economic and trading terms, Germany is among the strongest, most dynamic and most competitive countries in the world.
But one question remains: how has Germany managed to become the most powerful country (not necessarily in military terms) on the continent since the Second World War, at the end of which it surrendered unconditionally, leaving it a broken nation for decades on end? Is it a miracle that cannot be explained? Is it merely because the Germans are hardworking, serious, capable, meticulous, precise, well-disciplined and so on? What is the source of Germany’s continental pre-eminence?
– Germany is what it is today because of its determination, its planning, its organization and its knowledge and in-depth study of the way in which the different nations of Europe live, develop and operate. Germany is the only country on this continent with a plan. For several centuries, Germany has espoused a model and a clear policy of continuity which follow a well-thought-out plan and are aimed at certain specific goals, whereas other countries lack such plans.
[p. 47] “GERMANY’S FUTURE LIES
ON THE CONTINENT”
– Friedrich List is also credited with introducing the concept of Mitteleuropa. Some call it a rather vague notion; in any case, it is a geopolitical reality with variable geometry and an often expansionist purpose. In his masterpiece written in 1841, List proceeded from two premises: 1. The future belongs to the great economic entities that will enter into competition with one another; 2. Neither Prussia nor the future Germany will be a match for Britain, France or the United States in colonial terms, which is why “the future of the German state lies on the continent, and it is here that it must seek its colonies.” To compete and to defend itself effectively against a Franco-Russian alliance, List argued, Germany had to create unity across central and eastern Europe extending as far as Persia. How did List view Germany’s relationship with the other great powers of the period?
– After travelling to the United States and living there for a lengthy period, List realized that Germany could not compete with the major global powers – Britain, France and the United States – on the colonial front. His conclusion was that Germany needed to look towards countries on the European continent over which it could exert influence and hegemony.
– To what extent did List’s ideas and plans come to the attention of the Germanic leaders of his time? Were any parts of these ideas and plans put into effect?
– List began setting out his plans for Austro-German expansion into south-eastern Europe and the Near East in around 1820. In a memorandum to the Austrian emperor, he sought to persuade the latter to dispense with customs duties between the German principalities and Austria. He also recommended protectionist measures against imports from France, Britain and the rest of the world. List’s Vienna memorandum is regarded as the “beginning of all major German plans for the Danube region”. List believed that such a federation would enable Germany to revive the thousand-year-old tradition of the Holy Roman Empire. His plan was rejected, however, and after criticizing government bureaucracy in Württemberg, he ended up serving a stint in jail. Between 1825 and 1832 he lived in the United States, as I mentioned before. List’s study of America’s economy and transport system later inspired the expansionist plans that he presented in his books between 1841 and 1846. His chef d’œuvre, “Das nationale System der politischen Ökonomie”, was published in 1841. In it, he attacked the doctrine of free trade and advocated protectionism in the form of hefty import duties to protect German industry.
– The protectionist policy urged by List has spawned a school of thought. It is now cited in discussions between Chinese economists grappling with the question of how to safeguard China’s independence and sovereignty in the face of globalization. In 2000, Han Deqiang, a young academic from Beijing, wrote a book in which he extolled the virtues of economic protectionism and invoked the principles of the “American system”.
[p. 87] THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE,
A CUSTOMS UNION, LEBENSRAUM
– And so we turn to the famous concept of the “United States of Europe”, which is now being revived by some European politicians against the background of the current crisis.
– This idea was mooted cautiously, but consistently and with determination. In 1893, the economist Albert Schäffle proposed the creation of a liberal and protectionist trade bloc which he christened the Central European Trade System. This sprawling union would be made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Around the turn of the century, numerous publications asserted that a central European customs union was necessary. Economists, professors and researchers argued that a common customs policy and the colonization of south-eastern Europe by German émigrés should be the main thrusts of German economic and trade policy. In 1907, the economist who founded the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftsverein (MW), Julius Wolf, wrote of a central European customs union not as a project that could be implemented swiftly, but as a mechanism which states should join in stages. In October 1911, during the third congress of the MW, the “concept of Mitteleuropa” was put forward in connection with the “expansion of colonization” as a solution that would provide the raw materials and export markets that the German economy needed. Heinrich Class, the president of the Pan-German League, published “Wenn ich Kaiser wär” under a pseudonym in 1912. German conservatives and the press, the mouthpiece of heavy industry, greeted the book with interest. Many of the ideas and proposals contained in it would later reappear in the National Socialist Party’s manifesto. Class’s annexationist standpoint hinged around the “first model of state authority”, the creation of new German Lebensraum in Europe, German colonialism in south-eastern Europe, demographic policy and pan-Germanism. These aspects stemmed from ideas advanced by Lagarde, the Frankfurt Assembly and contemporaries.
This customs union, it was argued, would enable “Greater Germany” to dominate trade in “the whole of the Orient, Asia Minor, Syria and Mesopotamia”. The author exclaimed pragmatically: “This space must be created! If we do not do so, the western and southern Slavs will.” However, the aspirations for autonomy entertained by the nations of south-eastern Europe were an obstacle to Germany’s plans for “peaceful penetration” across the region.
[p. 94] MITTELEUROPA
– The concept of Mitteleuropa proposed by List reached its zenith during the First World War when “Mitteleuropa” was published by the liberal politician Friedrich Naumann. Over time, the concept of Mitteleuropa evolved to become a political programme during the economic boom that followed German unification in 1871, and numerous plans were inspired by it between 1890 and 1918. These plans may be placed in two categories. The first, which was of liberal imperialist origin and enjoyed the support of manufacturers, banks and industry, envisioned a multinational economic bloc with a single customs policy, but with each member state retaining its independence. The second category, which was promoted by big landowners, military circles and the Pan-German League in particular, included plans for political subjugation involving military intervention. A plan belonging to the latter category was implemented during the First World War by Field Marshall Erich Ludendorff and his team. Despite the significant differences between them, the two strands had a common denominator: the economic and political expansion of the German Reich created in 1871 as far as the Atlantic to the west and as far as the Black Sea to the south. This neomercantilist German economy would operate like a fourth global empire to guarantee security and prosperity in central Europe, and would be a rival to the three other major world powers at that time – Britain, Russia and the United States.
– All of these ideas inspired Friedrich Naumann, who developed them theoretically when he devised the Mitteleuropa project. These ideas, which were discussed at the Paulskirche, entailed German dominance in eastern, south-eastern and central Europe, in competition with France and Russia. A member of parliament from the Paulskirche group asserted that it was Germany’s “mission” to create a “central European megastate” with a population of 70-100 million that would stand in opposition to the “Slavic and Latin nations”, wipe out Britain’s naval dominance and become “the largest and most powerful on the planet.”
– That sounds like the pragmatic talk that surfaced during the time of the Third Reich, is that a coincidence?
– No, it’s no coincidence, there’s a perfectly good reason. Quite simply, what we are looking at here is a continuity in Germany’s European policy that goes back to the creation of the German state and beyond. Like Friedrich List and Paul de Lagarde, Friedrich Naumann was a leading exponent of German expansionism. His book “Mitteleuropa”, which was published in 1915, sold 137,000 copies in just two years. “Mitteleuropa” was the most widely-circulated and talked-about book during the war years and was also the best-selling book written by any author since Bismarck’s memoirs were published.
– A translation of the book was published in Great Britain in 1916 and the writer of the preface, Professor W. J. Ashley, began his contribution with the following opinion of a German reviewer: “Friedrich Naumann is probably the most widely-read political writer in Germany. He has his readers in the workman’s cottage and the undergraduate’s sitting-room, in the boudoir of the millionaire’s wife and in the offices of high officials.” How can the success of such a book in the middle of the war be explained?
– Very easily. Naumann gave Germany a clear objective for the First World War. He instilled into the masses a belief that the war would usher in a sustained period of prosperity thanks to the creation of an economic area stretching from the North Sea to the Adriatic and the Black Sea. Theodor Heuss, Naumann’s pupil and a future president of the Federal Republic of Germany, described Naumann’s book as “a powerful toolkit for the objectives of national policy”, which places it in the tradition of List’s œuvre.
– Naumann’s Mitteleuropa plan had a greater public impact than the more or less similar plans of other German authors. What was the “secret” that enabled it to reach this unusually large audience?
– It may be said that Naumann’s “Mitteleuropa” laid the essential foundations for German imperialist government. According to his theory, Germany and Austria-Hungary should form the nucleus of Mitteleuropa, which would be subject to German hegemony. Naumann attempted to provide an “ethical” and “humanist” justification for German expansionism and put forward a “common future” for the states of Mitteleuropa. In reality, what he dreamed of was “long-lasting German economic leadership” in the Balkan states, as he himself said in a letter to the banker Max Warburg in 1915. To win the governments of eastern and south-eastern Europe over to his ideas, Naumann stopped short of any anti-Slavic, racist or annexationist talk. Showing acumen and bearing the other side of the coin in mind, Naumann assured his German readers that after the War, Germany alone would lead the “extended economic area”. “Mitteleuropa will have a German core”, he wrote. The first stage in its creation would be an economic alliance between Germany and Austria, with other European states to be added gradually later on. In parallel with the creation of Mitteleuropa, a “strong national economy”, namely “national and state socialism”, would be developed in Germany.
– So, humanism and a common future, without any racist or annexationist excesses (but German hegemonism, in any case), to be built gradually. That would be a soft version, easier to sell and swallow…
– Precisely. Naumann’s Mitteleuropa included not only south-eastern Europe but also the European and Asian parts of Turkey, plus all territory between Scandinavia and the Persian Gulf and the overseas colonies of both Germany and the Netherlands. In total, it would make up “a tenth of the Earth’s available surface area”. Mitteleuropa’s population would be “about 200 million people, approximately an eighth of the global population.” For Naumann, Mitteleuropa was a byword for the opening-up and creation of a pathway to the Near East and the acquisition of oil and other important raw materials. At the same time, it guaranteed German access to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1917, Naumann said that as an “extended economic area” dominated by Germany, Mitteleuropa offered the only chance of statehood for non-German nations, namely Romania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and the Ukraine. “In reality, small nation states no longer exist. Soon, as all large states seek to expand their territories, small states will have to obey this rule of history. Independence no longer exists for anyone. All these nations can do is to decide with whom their allegiances lie, Germany or Russia; there is no other option. (…) Those that cannot or will not become Russian must become part of Mitteleuropa.”
– Like his contemporaries, Naumann preached the same slogan about Germany’s “mission” to educate and civilize the nations of eastern and south-eastern Europe.
– What Naumann said about the Mitteleuropa project was certainly different from what the Pan-German League said, as he did not rely on racist arguments or annexationist claims to territory. He spoke of a policy of negotiation and agreements and described his idea using such terms as democracy, progress and freedom.
– Maybe that’s why Naumann’s Mitteleuropa project had so few critics.
– It was opposed in particular by the Pan-German League and those who engaged in trade overseas, who had the following objections:
1. Naumann had failed to address Germany’s overseas interests;
2. It did not offer scope for the development of colonies of German émigrés;
3. The creation of a “Mitteleuropa Federation” would pose the risk of a controversy over its German sovereignty;
4. Mitteleuropa under German leadership could not be imposed by amicable means; it could only be achieved through the use of force.
Although the historian Erich Brandenburg gave a broadly positive assessment of Naumann’s “Mitteleuropa”in 1917, he also believed that Germany’s transformation into a multinational (supranational) state was a “dangerous utopia” that could do serious damage to the Germanic world. Another criticism was that Germany could not afford to stake everything on the East and that after the war, it should instead adopt several different trade policies.
– Despite the criticisms, the public success of Naumann’s “Mitteleuropa” was undeniable. What was done about the Mitteleuropa plan?
– From the 1910s onwards, with the close involvement of Naumann and under the government’s patronage, various organizations were created to popularize and implement the Mitteleuropa project in Germany and allied states. Chief among these were the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftsverein(Central European Economic Union), the Deutsch-Österreich-Ungarischer Wirtschaftsverein (German-Austrian-Hungarian Economic Association), the Arbeitsausschuß für Mitteleuropa (Working Committee for Central Europe), the Deutsch-Bulgarischer Verein (German-Bulgarian Association), the Deutsche-Türkische Vereinigung (German-Turkish Union) and the Reichsdeutsche Waffenbrüderliche Vereinigung (Imperial German Brotherhood-in-Arms). These organizations, which indirectly belonged to the economic imperialist faction, formed a close working partnership.
Naumann founded the Arbeitsausschuß für Mitteleuropa (Working Committee for Central Europe) in 1916 in order to implement the doctrine in his book. Gradually, this committee came to coordinate the main “sister” organizations. It was presided over by Naumann and Jäckh, and their closest colleagues included Walther Schotte and the head of the Deutsche Bank in Vienna, Felix Somary. Among its members were prominent political, scientific and economic figures such as the industrialist Robert Bosch, Professors Max Weber and Gustav von Schmoller, and a future president of the Reichsbank and finance minister, Hjalmar Schacht. The committee’s role was to handle Germany’s negotiations with Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire over their future political and economic ties. In 1918, the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftstag (Central European Economic Congress) was created as part of the Committee. Its job was to seek ways of supplying German industry with the raw materials it needed from the states of Mitteleuropa, to push through the construction of railways and shipping channels and resolve the matter of railway tariff policy so as to consolidate Germany’s trading links with the Balkans and the Ukraine, and to broker and develop contracts between German industry and eastern and south-eastern Europe. The Committee’s headquarters in Berlin would later become the headquarters of the Verrechnungskasse (Clearing House) for central Europe, which served as the command centre for German expansion into eastern and south-eastern Europe, and later still as the home of the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftstag until the Nazi era.
In 1913, representatives of the German industrial export sector founded the Verein deutscher Balkanfreunde (German-Balkan Association). The objectives of this body were to conclude trade agreements between Germany and Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and the Ottoman Empire and to expand and supervise German businesses in south-eastern Europe.
The First World War also saw the creation in Germany of the first scientific institutes devoted to the study of south-eastern Europe and the Near East in particular: the Institute for Balkan and Asian Studies (Munich, 1915) and the Institute for the Study of South-Eastern Europe and Islamism (Leipzig, 1917). These institutes trained those who would later found south-eastern European institutes in Munich and Leipzig in the early 1920s. It was institutes such as these that provided a scientific justification for expansionism (through their studies of fields such as geology, economics and so on) and lent it ideological support through books and publications.
– What was done at official level to implement the Mitteleuropa project?
– The political negotiations embarked on in 1915 culminated in a Customs and Economic Alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary. This agreement was signed just prior to the end of the war, in October 1918. The Mitteleuropa plan was thus beginning to take shape, as this was the first step towards a union whose purpose, Germany claimed, was the movement of goods unfettered by customs barriers.
In 1917 and 1918, Naumann was particularly active in his endeavours to persuade German decision-makers that the Mitteleuropa plan was necessary. The Vaterlandspartei (Fatherland Party) was established in 1917 and soon became an extreme nationalist organization. By 1918, it already had 1.25 million members and a chauvinistic and anti-Semitic ideology; it also became the primary forerunner of the National Socialist Party.
Towards the end of the War, German army commanders also began to take an interest in the Mitteleuropa plan and support it. In 1916, General von Hindenburg wrote that Romania, “as an old Roman province, must become useful to Germany.” More specifically, he suggested that “Romania should meet Germany’s oil needs.” In 1917, the government in Berlin secured an extension of its oil concessions in Romania. Oil was exported and extracted courtesy of the Romanian government.
– So it appears that Romania, too, was involved in the Mitteleuropa project as a soft version of economic “penetration”.
– A second soft version existed at that time. In 1917, Paul Rohrbach introduced the slogan of “ethical imperialism” in an article that also proffered a related strategy. Out of this arose the “moral conquest policy” programme. Rohrbach put forward the concept of “moral conquest” as an alternative to the annexationist designs of the Pan-German League. In so doing, he concealed Germany’s expansionist greed and the true purpose of the “extended area of Mitteleuropa” behind the smokescreen of human rights policy in eastern and south-eastern Europe. With regard to “imperialist ethics”, Prince Maximilian of Baden, the last chancellor of the Reich, declared with pathos that “to colonize is to be a missionary”.
Other writers did not encumber their views with such gentle outward appearances, however. For instance, Kurt Riezler wrote in 1915-1917 that the German nation must return “to the principles of Bismarckian policy, the ideas of Paulskirche and the spirit of the Roman Empire.” Prussia and “Lesser Germany” had to give way to “Greater Germany” and the “United States of Central Europe”, he argued. Riezler thus formed a link with the expansionist desires of the German bourgeoisie that had found expression from 1848 onwards. He maintained that “the German Reich must unite the states of Europe in an empire, starting from the centre – Belgium, Poland and Austria – and they must be grouped together under our calm hegemony.” So that Serbia and Montenegro could be incorporated into Mitteleuropa, Riezler offered a “simple solution”, namely that they should be annexed through the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
[p. 118] GERMAN EXPANSIONISM THEORIZED
– The 1920s also witnessed a German comeback on the international political and economic stages. Through tacit diplomacy, propaganda spread by its many associations (chief among them the MWT) and an export-led economic offensive, Berlin regained the standing in south-eastern Europe that it had lost during the War. Another method was the rejection of any plans for south-eastern Europe that did not include Germany.
– A number of special research institutes whose purpose was the economic and cultural penetration of south-eastern Europe were founded at the end of the 1920s. In 1927, the MWT’s German group opened a Mitteleuropa-Institut in Dresden. The role of these institutes was to spread German expansionist ideas across south-eastern Europe, in line with the German government’s policy during the 1920s. The work of the various German foundations was a way of influencing the political environment in other European states, and it received generous funding from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Acting in the name of universal values, these institutes made more inroads into the politics of their host states than diplomacy did.
Through these research institutes, “German science and culture” were to be disseminated to the nations of south-eastern Europe so as to prepare the ground for the acceptance of German leadership. This “intensive transformation of the Balkans” assisted by the Dresden Institute was intended “to put the spotlight increasingly on Germany as the intellectual hub of the Central European movement”. The Institute’s task was to make a determined effort to boost the economic, political and cultural ties between Germany and the states of central and south-eastern Europe. In 1928, the Dresden Institute’s brief was summed up as follows: to act as a centre enabling Germany to gauge the economic, political and cultural situation in south-eastern Europe, a German propaganda headquarters in south-eastern Europe, a media centre for south-eastern Europe, a centre for scientific research on political and economic issues concerning south-eastern Europe, and a conference venue. The German government gave the Dresden Institute financial support, in particular by paying for its members to go on study trips to eastern and south-eastern Europe.
At the end of the 1920s, the MWT founded another three central European institutes in Vienna (1929), Brno (1929) and Budapest (1930). The Breslau (modern-day Wrocław) Institute was established in 1918, an Institute for Central and South-Eastern European Economic Research was opened in Leipzig in 1928, and a German Academy with a revisionist agenda was founded in Munich in 1930. The institute in Munich eventually became, and still is today, Germany’s leading institute for research on south-eastern Europe. A similar institute within the University of Berlin was set up during the Second World War under the influence of the SS.
The founding of the Breslau, Dresden, Leipzig, Munich and Berlin institutes during the 1920s and 1930s demonstrated that even after being defeated in the First World War, Germany had not given up on its expansionist and imperialist dreams; on the contrary, it was continuing to “study” eastern and south-eastern Europe with greater rigour.
In 1931, Friedrich Zimmerman wrote of a “central European space” that should be formed around Germany and Austria, consisting of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, possibly also Greece, and then Turkey and Persia in the south in order to build a bridge leading to an independent India; in the north, it would include Finland and the Baltic states. This, he claimed, would constitute “the largest and wealthiest economic region in the world and history, whose practical and ideological construction has been entrusted by history to the German nation for hundreds of years.”
At the beginning of the 1930s, the position of the Vienna chapter of the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftstag (Central European Economic Congress) was strengthened when it became the representative body for the German economy. The MWT began to hold greater sway in Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary. Its propaganda centred on the rejection of any ideas about alliances in eastern and south-eastern Europe that would jeopardize German hegemony, opposition to various pan-European projects, the creation of an economic alliance in central Europe with Germany at its helm, and the resolution of the “customs problem”.
– And how did the great European powers respond?
– As you mentioned before, in May 1930, the French foreign minister, Aristide Briand, sent a written proposal to his European counterparts about a pan-European project involving a European political union based on the existing European status quo. Besides having an anti-Russian slant, the French plan also sought to consolidate the Treaty of Versailles so as to thwart Germany’s expansionist ambitions. The rejection of this plan by Britain, Italy and, of course, Germany left France’s pan-European project dead in the water.
– How did the states of eastern and south-eastern Europe react to the new pressures bearing down on them?
– During the 1930s, the governments of eastern and south-eastern Europe sought joint solutions to shore up their economies, which were deteriorating at a disastrous rate. As part of a bid to adopt a joint position and stand up to the hegemony of the industrialized states, agrarian conferences were held in Bucharest (twice), Sinaia, Warsaw and Belgrade in 1930. At these conferences, the governments of eastern and south-eastern Europe tried to form an “Agrarian Bloc” to counter the protectionism of the industrialized states. Their goal was to boost the prices of agricultural produce, which were in free fall. An attempt was made to create a “Board for the Exportation of Agricultural Produce” as a way of forcing prices upwards.
The governments of the states that would make up the Agrarian Bloc set out their intentions at a League of Nations conference in the autumn of 1930, but the German delegate objected to the creation of the Agrarian Bloc and presented a set of balance sheets and figures that highlighted the “danger” of such plans. What lay hidden behind these arguments was Germany’s desire to undermine French hegemony over the capital market in south-eastern Europe by taking advantage of the weak economies of these states to draw them even further into Germany’s sphere of influence through long-term dependence.
To sabotage the Agrarian Bloc’s plans, the German government resorted to procrastination and blackmail. It relied on such arguments as the “need” for a “central European economy” and claimed that not to involve Germany in the project would be “completely irresponsible”. Many of the attempts made to move forwards with the Agrarian Bloc in south-eastern Europe were doomed from the outset as they were undermined by the biggest buyer of agricultural produce from the states concerned: Germany. As a result, the governments of south-eastern Europe were unable to secure preferential bilateral agreements with Germany, and the “strategy of division”, a German trademark, bore fruit as the planned the Agrarian Bloc never came into being.
– And in 1931, the German government launched its first offensive in its efforts to establish a central European economic region by proclaiming the German-Austrian Customs Union. How did Europe react to this?
– The French and Italian governments rejected this customs union as they viewed it as the first step of the plan put forward in 1915 by Naumann in his book “Mitteleuropa”. With British support, in 1931 France secured a judgment from the Court of International Justice in The Hague ruling that the customs union was incompatible with the peace treaty signed after the First World War.
In 1932, Britain attempted to create a “Danubian Confederation” without involving Germany. Germany rejected this plan, too, and asserted that after the War, it had shifted the main target of its exports from overseas colonies (i.e. from an area controlled by Britain among others) to south-eastern Europe. In its official response, Germany concluded that an “economic union of the states along the Danube without German participation is tantamount to a union of these states against Germany.”
A final attempt to create a Danubian Confederation was made by the French government in 1932; this grouping would have been made up of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Romania.
The two biggest threats to the German concept of the “complementary economy” – the title that it conferred on south-eastern Europe – were the plans to create a Danubian Confederation without German participation and the Agrarian Bloc for eastern and south-eastern Europe.
[p. 136] THE UNION OF EUROPEAN STATES
– The German government also came up with the idea of a union of European states, but it never got off the drawing board, with just a few public statements being made by officials representing the Nazi regime. But to what extent did this idea of a union of European states, which was considered in Berlin before the Second World War, during the War and even when it was clear to everyone that Nazi Germany would be defeated, become a reality?
– The idea of European unity was a cornerstone of Nazi propaganda. Werner Daitz, a Nazi economist, recommended in 1940 that Germany should exercise caution and not call a spade a spade: “We must speak only of Europe, because its leadership by Germany is self-evident from Germany’s political, economic, cultural and technical strength and its geographical location.” This general recommendation from the darkest period in German history exemplified the country’s discretion in expressing its hegemonic ambitions at a time when it was in a dominant position in the war. German hegemony always had to be hidden behind “Europe”, which was portrayed as a supranational union in which each country would retain its sovereignty.
– Was anything concrete done about this idea of European unity during the time of the Third Reich?
– Steps were taken at ministerial level, and different plans and integration methods were considered by various working groups. One of the most complex plans was the document establishing the “European Confederation” drawn up in 1943 by Joachim von Ribbentrop, the last foreign minister of the Reich. Ribbentrop’s plan mentioned the existence and preservation of the sovereignty of European states, but closer scrutiny reveals that many of the ideas in the plan entailed the renunciation by certain states – except Germany, of course – of their de facto sovereignty. In fact, one of its points stated that the rationale for such meganational entities was to allay the fears of Germany’s allies that they would find themselves under German military control at the end of the war. In a memorandum of 31 May 1940, Werner Daitz discussed aspects concerning the “establishment of an economic commissariat for the greater European area” and explained that German leadership “is essential” for this area. This expert’s publications also included the “European Charter” of 1943 and the plan for “German-French cooperation and European cooperation” of the same year. Since technical matters and experts’ opinions with regard to European unification prevailed over mere Nazi propaganda of a hostile nature, I do not believe that we can understand Europe today without also understanding the mechanism of its integration, beginning with the earliest steps taken towards continental unification. However, these facts must not be seized upon and used as propaganda, and we must guard against knee-jerk reactions amid the current crisis with regard to the shaping of Europe’s future. The courts of public opinion in different countries may draw their own conclusions in this regard.
– During the time of the Third Reich, suitable rhetoric and propaganda were also needed to present a model for a new Europe – under German leadership, of course – to the states and peoples of Europe.
– Ribbentrop observed that propagandistic interaction at the European level favoured a model based on appearances whereby European countries would make proposals for European unification to Germany, which could not refuse them. In a way, that situation is similar to what we see today, with Germany knocking Brussels off its European throne and moving the seat of power over the continent to Berlin. But it is important that the request to promote united Europe should come from the periphery. Even during the war, when the continent was occupied by Germany, the Reich sought a model whereby states would appear credible to the rest of the world when they were asked to give up their sovereignty. A temporary military victory alone would not have been sufficient to unite Europe at a time of crisis; what was needed was a whole set of strategies for unification, such as the use of elements suggestive of a virtual unity, in order to guarantee a high degree of acceptance not only in the United States and Great Britain, but also among the populations of the occupied countries. In Ribbentrop’s view, the art of statesmanship lay in projecting an image of sovereignty, which would later be handed over, by signing Europe’s founding document amid celebrations. This strategy was designed in such a way as to dispel suspicions that European states would be run by a German military administration after the war. Another advantage of this strategy was that the stances of the USA and Great Britain could be interfered with from the inside by teaching slogans such as “what is possible in North America – the creation of the USA – cannot be denied to Europe” to opposition groups.
– What became of Ribbentrop’s plan? Has there been any continuity between the thinking behind it and Germany’s post-war political and economic strategy? Is there any connection between the more or less public plans of modern-day Germany and what Ribbentrop advocated in 1943?
– We cannot speculate as to whether there has been any continuation of that particular plan, but we can analyse the list of advantages of such a union established at a time of crisis with the aid of propaganda tools by comparing the arguments relied on then with those relied on today. Anyone can thus judge the extent to which EU strategy bears a resemblance to the plan devised by Ribbentrop’s propaganda office, which was headed by Karl Megerle. As for the creation of an image of Germany as a country that promotes European and social solidarity and a tolerant, united Europe in defiance of national particularism and is willing to give each nation its proper place in the European family, all sense of time is lost. The question is why such noble aims should become a propaganda device at a time of crisis and why they cannot be a genuine political objective without serving the aim of establishing a nefarious hegemony. Ribbentrop mentioned, in particular, that such a plan for unification should not give specific details about its political and administrative operation and that the officials empowered to negotiate on Germany’s behalf should limit themselves to general statements, because the propagandistic transformation of Europe would lead to the surrender of sovereignty without any political guarantees being given.
– What role do you think Romania would have played in the political entity envisaged by Ribbentrop?
– Ribbentrop believed that it was essential for Romania to join the Union of European States. Martin Bormann, the head of the Nazi Party’s Chancellery, contended in a report of 16 July 1941 entitled “Setting nationalist objectives in eastern Europe” that the priority for German policy vis-à-vis Romania should be to avoid stirring up enmity. At the same time, however, he warned that German policy should not dance to Romania’s tune. In principle, Bormann explained, “in order to slice up the huge cake easily, we must proceed in such a way that we will firstly control, then administer, and then exploit. And even if some territories must be amputated”, Bormann suggested, “Germany must appear in the eyes of the population to be the one who is protecting the rule of law and the public.”
– What plans did Berlinhave for Romania’s economy and the economies of the states of south-eastern Europe?
– First of all, subsistence farming had to be abolished. The economic plans of the Third Reich also entailed the elimination of the peasantry in the states of south-eastern Europe. In 1941, the Nazi agriculture minister, Backe, and the German Labour Front’s Scientific Labour Institute devised a model for cooperation with the “German hinterland”, as south-eastern Europe was then known. Its creators foresaw the following major obstacles to the plans for the region’s economic subjugation: “The mindset of this population and its lack of understanding. That explains its lack of interest in producing quantities of food in excess of subsistence needs.” Franges, a German agriculture expert, proposed that farmland should be reallocated for the cultivation of soybeans, hops and fodder plants as monocultures. The abolition of subsistence farming was regarded as the most important step. Nazi experts believed that when this shake-up of agriculture took place, these plans would be hampered by what they saw as Romania’s rural overpopulation relative to its arable land base.
In 1940, the German experts Seraphim and Franges estimated that the number of “rustic gluttons” (bäuerliche Esser) in Romania was approximately 40% higher than it should be. The solution would be to mobilize these peasants as a cheap labour force in Germany. One wonders whether the name of the German expert Franges derives from the Latin word for a strawberry, fragaria. Nowadays, this word inevitably brings to mind the Romanian term căpşunari (strawberry-pickers), which refers to workers on western European plantations who failed to find jobs at home.
Another solution put forward by Nazi experts was the creation of large agricultural areas through political reforms. Analysis of the much-touted slogan of division of labour between Germany and the eastern nations shows that Germany had not the slightest intention of seeing the latter attain a standard of living comparable with Germany’s. Hans Kehrl, the man to whom the administration of Göring’s Four-Year Plan was entrusted, made the following observation in 1941: “In the greater economic area, German workers may do only the best-paid work. Products that do not meet these requirements must be left for the nations on Europe’s periphery. We shall reserve nothing but the best of Europe’s industrial output for German workers.” The Nazi expert pointed out that under no circumstances could Germany tolerate industrial development in Romania, as this would be to the detriment of Germany’s surplus output. The goal for Romania was agricultural development through the monoculture of non-food crops, with surpluses to be used to make German products. Rudolf Kratz, Germany’s representative to the Reichsstatthalter (imperial officer) in Vienna, issued the following general recommendation: “Implementing a colonial policy in the field of agricultural policy means doing what the Turks did hundreds of years ago: we will take out of the country what its people can spare without impoverishing them completely.”
Ulrich von Hassell, a former German ambassador in Yugoslavia in the 1930s who was a leading member of Germany’s most influential economic organization, the MWT, proposed in 1940 that the countries of south-eastern Europe should be active in only the following industrial sectors: mineral extraction, milling, textiles, forestry and logging, wood processing and the manufacture of consumer goods, none of which required skilled labour. All other industrial activity was to be eschewed. Seraphim, the head of the Breslau Eastern European Institute, said in 1941 that Germany should not allow any development of electrical or mechanical industry to occur in south-eastern Europe. Raw materials from the hinterland should be processed only by German industry and not at source.
Experts at the SOEG (Southeast Europe Society) concluded in 1942 that the interests of German industry would be better served if the states of south-eastern Europe retained their sovereignty, as this would make it easier to deindustrialize their economies, implement various policies and so on without wounding their national pride. These states had to be conquered by peaceful means because if they lost their sovereignty, non-German investment and creditors could be affected. What Germany wanted was a servile government like the one we have today, which – according to Romania’s representative at the IMF, the economist Mihai Tănăsescu – is trampling the poor underfoot and sacrificing pensioners and the sick in order to attract money from this financial institution, and is thus implementing this latter recommendation of the German experts I mentioned earlier. The post-1989 customs system, which – alongside a policy that is not being coordinated or is perhaps even being well orchestrated by the major European powers – has facilitated Romania’s deindustrialization, the elimination of the car manufacturing, electrical and agri-food industries and the dismantling of agriculture, has paved the way for the economic plans of the Third Reich to be put into effect.
– But at European level, in the economic arena, as far as the economic relationships between European states were concerned, how did the leaders and experts of the Third Reich expect the continental entity to operate?
– One publication released by the Reich Ministry of Economics was actually entitled “Die Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft” (The European Economic Community), which at one time was also the name of what we now call the European Union. Hermann Göring announced in 1942 that nation states would disappear within fifty years as they were integrated into the Reich. We have seen how Germany’s need for raw materials and export markets has given rise, from 1848 to the present day, to a range of plans and models for European integration. In 1903, one of the most influential German associations, which was run by the German economic and political élite, proposed, under the aegis of the Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftsverein, not only the idea of creating a European customs union (including the Balkans) – that is, establishing a central European empire run by Germany – but also the clearing model. The fourth point of that programme mentioned the ongoing need to study the issue of integration. Even today, this integrationist instrument appears to be a good way of immunizing politicians against social needs related to European integration through a single currency. What is more, the Eurosystem mechanism involving fixed exchange rates is based on a monetary integration model that was the brainchild of the president and vice-president of the Reichsbank, Walther Funk and Emil Puhl. Puhl devised and promoted a multilateral clearing system between Germany and other European countries. So we can even say that both the eurozone and the German clearing system feature certain parallels that relate to a “mechanism for balances”. This brings us back, whether we like it or not, to the clichés of the modern-day European Union.
[p. 153] THE FOURTH REICH
– A writer once said that the world will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. How did the Third Reich end?
– It fell into a safety net that had been carefully and meticulously prepared as per the classic German approach. During the final stages of the war, no one had doubted that the Nazi Reich would be defeated, not even those at the top of the regime. So the post-disaster situation was carefully planned for. The Nazis were not quite as stupid as the Soviet films of the 1950s made them out to be.
– In any case, life would have to go on in Germany after the death of the Nazi Reich. On 9 May 2009, exactly 56 years after Germany had surrendered, a British newspaper, the Daily Mail, disclosed a report written by the American secret services which stated that Nazi leaders had asked German industrialists to re-establish German dominance in Europe after the war by economic means. The document caused a sensation and inspired the British novelist Adam LeBor to write the novel “The Budapest Protocol”.
– And the Daily Mail article was signed by Adam LeBor himself. Document EW-Pa 128, which is also known as the Red House Report and was authored by US Military Intelligence, was written in November 1944. It documents a secret meeting held at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on 10 August 1944 during which Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany’s post-war recovery in the form of what was later called the “Fourth Reich” – in other words, a “strong German empire”, LeBor wrote.
– It’s interesting that the meeting was held in Strasbourg, which is now one of the capital cities of United Europe and the home of the European Parliament.
– The action in LeBor’s book begins in 1944, when the Red Army was advancing towards a besieged Berlin, and ends in the present with the election campaign for the first president of Europe.
– “The European Union superstate is revealed as a front for a sinister conspiracy, one rooted in the last days of the Second World War”, LeBor wrote in his article.
– The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. The officials were from the Navy and the Ministry of Armaments. The participants decided to create a Fourth Reich which, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire – and not just a German one.
– So the phrase “The Fourth Reich” is not just a legend or a conspiracy theory.
– Definitely not. The European construct that was created after the war started off as an economic entity and was not just German. The report was written by a French spy, read by the British and sent by airmail to Cordell Hull, the US Secretary of State. It gave a detailed account of the secret meeting at the hotel in Strasbourg. First of all, it should be pointed out that Nazi Germany did export huge amounts of capital to neutral countries. German businesses did have a network of companies abroad. This explains why the German economy recovered quickly after 1945. The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but having converted to become democrats, bankers, industrialists and officials prospered in the new West Germany. They began to work for a new cause: European economic and political integration. SS Obergruppenführer Dr. Scheid was the first to speak at the meeting in Strasbourg. German industry must realize that the war cannot be won, he declared. “It must take steps to ready itself for a post-war commercial campaign.” It should also be pointed out that such talk was regarded as defeatist and treasonous at that time, and could land people in a Gestapo cell and then a concentration camp, yet here was a senior SS officer addressing the subject openly and head-on, without hesitating. Dr. Scheid asked the industrialists “to make contact and alliances with foreign companies, individually and without arousing suspicion.” German companies had made huge inroads into foreign economies, and Dr. Scheid alluded to the American-based businesses of Krupp, Zeiss, Leica and the Hamburg-America Line shipping company. Because of these businesses, German companies had a large amount of capital at that time. Placed in neutral countries, this capital would underpin the future Fourth Reich’s future. In addition, German industrialists sought to sign cooperation agreements with American partners in order to protect German business once the country was occupied by the Allies.
– Adam LeBor also relates another fact that is more revealing. After most of the industrialists had left the meeting, Dr. Bosse from the Ministry of Armaments met those who were left behind – the “elite of the elite”, as the writer puts it – in an even more secret gathering.
– Bosse explained to them that after the war, which Germany was going to lose, resistance had to continue until it was guaranteed that German unity would be restored. He also laid out a three-stage strategy for the Fourth Reich. During the first stage, the industrialists would prepare to finance the Nazi Party, which would be forced to go underground. During the next stage, the government would allocate large sums to German industrialists in order to establish a “secure post-war foundation in foreign countries”, and “existing financial reserves will be made available to the party so that a strong German empire can be created after the war.” Finally, German businessmen would finance a foreign network of sleeper agents who would gather military and other secret intelligence necessary for the Nazis to regain power. “Only a very few people in each industry and Nazi Party leaders will know about all this”, Bosse said. Each company would have an agent acting as a liaison with the Nazi Party, and when the latter became strong enough to re-establish its control over Germany, the industrialists would be rewarded for their efforts and cooperation, Bosse also told them. In the period that followed, Nazi funds were transferred to Swiss banks in Zurich, and the economic cooperation between the Swiss and the Nazis was closely monitored by Allied intelligence.
– Under normal circumstances, talking about the defeat of the Reich in the middle of the war and making plans to deal with such a situation was especially dangerous. And yet, that’s exactly what they were doing…
– A meeting such as the one at the Maison Rouge could only have taken place with the knowledge and even the protection of the SS, according to Dr. Adam Tooze from Cambridge University. He writes: “By 1944 any discussion of post-war planning was banned. It was extremely dangerous to do that in public. But the SS was thinking in the long term. (…) As commander of Einsatzgruppe D, which operated on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1942, Ohlendorf was responsible for the murder of 90,000 men, women and children. (…) By the winter of 1943 he was transferred to the Ministry of Economics. Ohlendorf’s ostensible job was focusing on export trade, but his real priority was preserving the SS’s massive pan-European economic empire after Germany’s defeat. Ohlendorf, who was later hanged at Nuremberg, took particular interest in the work of a German economist called Ludwig Erhard. Erhard had written a lengthy manuscript on the transition to a post-war economy after Germany’s defeat. (…) But Ohlendorf, who was also chief of the SD, the Nazi domestic security service, protected Erhard (…) Ohlendorf himself was protected by Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS. Ohlendorf and Erhard feared a bout of hyper-inflation, such as the one that had destroyed the German economy in the Twenties. Such a catastrophe would render the SS’s economic empire almost worthless. The two men agreed that the post-war priority was rapid monetary stabilization through a stable currency unit, but they realized this would have to be enforced by a friendly occupying power (…) That currency would become the Deutschmark, which was introduced in 1948. It was an astonishing success and it kick-started the German economy. (…) By 1948 – despite six years of conflict, Allied bombing and post-war reparations payments – the capital stock of assets such as equipment and buildings was larger than in 1936, thanks mainly to the armaments boom. Erhard pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism – the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body. (…) The ECSC was the first supranational organization, established in April 1951 by six European states. (…) But before the common market could be set up, the Nazi industrialists had to be pardoned, and Nazi bankers and officials reintegrated. In 1957, John J. McCloy, the American High Commissioner for Germany, issued an amnesty for industrialists convicted of war crimes. The two most powerful Nazi industrialists, Alfried Krupp of Krupp Industries and Friedrich Flick (…) were released from prison after serving barely three years. (…) The Krupp company soon became one of Europe’s leading industrial combines. The Flick Group also quickly built up a new pan-European business empire. ‘The continuity of the economy of Germany and the economies of post-war Europe is striking’, says historian Dr. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky. ‘Some of the leading figures in the Nazi economy became leading builders of the European Union.’ (…) Like Krupp and Flick, Hermann Abs, post-war Germany’s most powerful banker, had prospered in the Third Reich. (…) Abs also sat on the supervisory board of IG Farben (…) one of Nazi Germany’s most powerful companies (…) During the war the company had financed Ludwig Erhard’s research. After the war, 24 IG Farben executives were indicted for war crimes (…) Abs was one of the most important figures in Germany’s post-war reconstruction. It was largely thanks to him that, just as the Red House had exhorted, a ‘strong German empire’ was indeed rebuilt, one which formed the basis of today’s European Union. Abs was put in charge of allocating Marshall Aid – reconstruction funds – to German industry. (…) Crucially, Abs was also a member of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The League was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union. (…) When Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany, took power in 1949, Abs was his most important financial advisor. Behind the scenes, Abs was working hard for Deutsche Bank to be allowed to reconstitute itself after decentralization. (…) Like Abs, Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard Germany’s first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor for three years.” This is how former Third Reich officials and collaborators came to play a key role in both Germany’s rebuilding and the founding of the EU.
– And then there was the notorious example of Walter Hallstein, the first president of the European Commission…
– Walter Hallstein (1901-1982) was the European Union’s architect-in-chief. A high-profile lawyer during the Nazi era, Hallstein had studied under the tutelage of law teachers who yearned to rip up the Treaty of Versailles, which had determined the level of reparations to be paid by Germany after its defeat in the First World War. Hallstein studied at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, a private institution that received generous funding from the IG Farben cartel. In June 1938, Hallstein was involved in the official talks between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy which were held with a view to laying the foundations for Europe’s future by means of aggressive policies. Hallstein became Dean of the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Frankfurt in Germany in 1941. That IG Farben was also based in Frankfurt was no coincidence. During the course of the Nuremberg Trials a few years later, it emerged that the economic conquest of Europe had been planned and implemented from precisely this IG Farben headquarters, with patents used as a means of taking economic control. Having hidden his Nazi connections from the Allies, in 1950 Hallstein became an advisor to Chancellor Adenauer of West Germany and took a leading role in shaping his foreign policy. He was also the mastermind behind the post-war union of Europe and became one of the twelve signatories to the Treaty of Rome, the document that established the EU, on 25 March 1957. Later, in 1958, he went on to become the first president of the EU Commission, and in 1963 he was re-elected for a second five-year term. For ten whole years, from 1958 to 1967, Hallstein commanded an army of thousands of European bureaucrats outside of any democratic control. Fifty-one years later, on 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty laid down the key components of the EU body founded by Hallstein. In signing the Lisbon Treaty, twenty-seven heads of state signed an enabling act. Just as their predecessors had done in 1993, they opened the door to the governance of Europe by a corporate cartel which had failed to achieve its goal in the Second World War.
– And here we see a picture that is deeply damaging to the EU and also Germany beginning to emerge on the public information market: united Europe has dark Nazi origins, and the European Union is in fact a Fourth Reich. However shocking this idea may seem, and regardless of the amount of anti-European propaganda with which it is conveyed to the general public, the body of evidence to confirm this is gradually growing.
– In 2008, Matthias Rath said that the Second World War was initiated and exploited by the big European pharmaceutical, chemical and oil companies, most of which were German or French. In 2007 he accused these companies of working to implement the policy of apartheid in South Africa as part of a global plot to “conquer and control the entire African continent”. Former Nazi officials and German chemical companies (chief among them IG Farben) had a central role in this plot. Rath suggests that the pharmaceutical industry plays a significant part in international politics and was also involved, for instance, in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the Iraq War.
– On 23 April 2003, the New York Times published an item by Rath about the Nazi origins of the “Brussels EU”. The European Union, Rath asserted, is an undemocratic political construct, functions as a politburo of the oil and drug cartel and is of Nazi origin.
– According to the Dr. Rath Foundation, a letter written in 1940 by the director of IG Farben mentioned a common European currency, common legislation and a European judicial system. The Dr. Rath Foundation also points out that IG Farben funded Hitler’s election campaign and rise to power and contributed to war planning and planned genocide by manufacturing Zyklon B.
A “plan to create a new Europe” was drawn up by Arno Sölter in 1941. It was to be led by the Großraumkartell or Europe-wide cartel (chemical, pharmaceutical and oil) whose magnum opus was the European Economic Community.
– According to the website of the Dr. Rath Foundation, the 50,000 pages of records of the Nuremberg Trials, which were published in the last few years, fill in significant gaps in the history of the Second World War and, in particular, reveal the essential role of the oil and pharmaceutical cartel (IG Farben in Germany and Rockefeller in the USA) in the war.
– “The Nazi Roots of the Brussels EU”, a book published by the Dr. Rath Foundation, states that according to archive material which has been published, the true structure and purposes of Brussels Europe were decided prior to the Second World War; it was intended to serve as the cartel’s politburo. In need of a political, legislative and even military platform from which it could spread its hegemony over the global market, the cartel found brilliant and zealous thinkers who could create this platform. The archives reveal that shortly after the war, after a few Nazi leaders had been tried and executed, business figures did not become anxious and very few of them were convicted. They took senior positions in the resurrected companies that had previously merged to form IG Farben (Bayer, BASF and Hoechst) and went on to spearhead the efforts to create Brussels Europe. The plans that they devised, the Dr. Rath Foundation goes on to say, led to the creation of the anti-democratic core body that is the European Commission, an unelected entity which wields huge power and is entirely at the cartel’s beck and call. They also invested in the German government and planted those willing to do their bidding in key positions within western European governments.
[p. 159] THE EU: A PRODUCT OF GERMAN IDEOLOGY
– Modern-day European integration traces its origins back to the first decade after the end of the Second World War.
– European integration has gone through many stages. The first was the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), a supra-governmental body within which states yielded their sovereignty to a supranational authority. During the first stage, the European Communities were run by high representatives of the member states. The ECSC operated on the same basis. To begin with, each country had one or two commissioners. Six nations and nine representatives. As the European institutions grew, so did their remit. The European Council is made up of ministers, ECOFIN discusses finance issues, and defence and other matters are discussed elsewhere.
– How did the EU’s decision-making core develop?
– At first, all states had equal rights, but the voting formula was not equal. It obeyed the principle of degressive proportionality proposed by Robert Schuman, whereby large countries were underrepresented on the Council and small countries were overrepresented.
– I think it was a kind of hypocrisy. The small countries had to appear large, and the large countries pretended to be small.
– Over time, the Commission’s spheres of interest and activity expanded to encompass foreign policy, justice, internal affairs, defence, trade and so on. The more important a decision was, the bigger the majority of votes in favour had to be, to the point of unanimity. This principle began to break down with the adoption of the Schengen Agreement, which did not work on a supra-governmental basis whereby countries yielded their sovereignty to a supranational authority; instead, it was an intergovernmental treaty whereby countries cooperated in various political fields. They no longer referred matters to the supranational institution known as the European Commission. From a certain point onwards, decisions that had previously been taken in Brussels by representatives of the member states began to be taken by states. Until the crisis began in 2008, even if decisions were taken in the capital cities of states, a formal vote was still held in Brussels at the European Council by the relevant ministers or at the highest level. So, European integration began with cooperation over coal and steel (the Treaty of Paris), a customs union (the Treaty of Rome), trade with the creation of the European Economic Community, nuclear energy with the founding of Euratom, and monetary policy (the Maastricht Treaty) with the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union.
– For military cooperation, there was also the Western European Union, but after the Cold War ended, it eventually ceased to exist.
– The structure of the European Commission is laid down by the Treaties establishing the European Communities. Initially, each country had one commissioner. Later on, until eastern European countries acceded to the EU, the Commission was made up of two commissioners from each country. The number of commissioners was then reduced so that the Commission would not become inefficient, descend into gridlock or become unable to fulfil its duties. This Commission, which initially followed the ECSC formula for the representation of each member state, is an executive body and has the right to propose legislation concerning the operation of, and cooperation within, the Community framework. The legislative body is the European Council, which is made up of the relevant ministers from the member states for the matters under discussion. Depending on how important the issue at hand is, the Council will convene at a certain level and adopt proposals and laws.
– Why doesn’t the European Union have permanent structures?
– It ought to. The institutions in Brussels are unable to carry out their huge task. It makes no sense for there not to be permanent structures. Here again, we see continuity in the German strategy of European dialogue taking place at conferences. The European Council, within which ministers adopt decisions in a far more solemn framework, merely votes on certain matters in a conference setting. So, here we see the model proposed by Ribbentrop as a strategy for cooperation and European dialogue through conferences at work within the EU. In fact, even European Council meetings are conferences rather than negotiations; ministers take decisions on the basis of discussions and meetings that have already taken place before the decisions are put to a vote. When they meet to “decide”, the decisions have already been taken in capital cities, and the representatives of the member states find themselves in a situation where there is no further negotiation.
– So where do we stand as far as democracy in the European institutions is concerned?
– Because the European institutions lack democratic legitimacy of any kind and are merely a government of technocrats, a government of second-hand politicians, they must find a source of legitimacy for themselves. One of the sources of legitimacy for the technocratic leviathan of a government that is Brussels is the claim that it promotes democracy. Europe is a myth with phenomenal political value which leads citizens to believe that if the EU and its institutions promote democracy, they must be at least as democratic as they expect them to be. Wrong.
The EU is a mirageof European unity, and there is no need for us to explain in this book how the main drivers of European integration see the EU. The European Union is a product of German ideology, and as we have seen, its main concern is not to give concrete information or operate according to precise models, but merely to create the image of virtual unity.
– But the model according to which the EU operates must be of interest to us.
– Yes, because this decision-making system has been applied for sixty years and no longer works, as votes within the Economic and Monetary Union are merely a Franco-German affair and are no longer taken on the Community-wide basis of degressive proportionality whereby the larger countries were underrepresented and the smaller countries were overrepresented. If that principle is no longer applied today, the EU’s decision-making processes will be less democratic. We are ending up with a model wherein Germany and France are the sole decision-makers.
– The innocent-sounding euphemism being the Franco-German engine.
– Yes, it probably refers to the engines of the Citroën trucks which were used by the German army in Stalingrad during the Second World War. The Vichy regime’s car manufacturing industry received a huge amount of assistance from Germany. Hitler believed that during the war, it didn’t matter whether soldiers drove a Citroën or a Mercedes, so in that respect his thinking was as European as could be.
– But Germany now wants a European defence and security policy even though some EU member states, especially those in the former Communist bloc, are showing reluctance as this initiative would weaken NATO.
– European security has always been a component of North Atlantic solidarity. Germany’s European defence ambitions would obviously weaken this solidarity.
– But why would Germany want to weaken NATO?
– To weaken America’s influence in Europe. After Germany was reunified, it set certain goals for itself which have to be pursued outside the North Atlantic Alliance.
– Such as German rapprochement with Russia…
– This has to happen outside NATO.
– How far could political union, or rather the EU, go if certain limits in the fiscal and military domains cannot be gone beyond?
– This union should lead to the disappearance of states. European integration would culminate at the point where states disappear, but not all member states – for instance, not Germany.
– Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have disappeared, Belgium was without a government for months on end, Scotland wants to break away from England, Italy is being talked about as if it were a bankrupt state, and the examples don’t end there.
– I think that the goal of all of the principles of integration is to create the status and mindset of European citizenship; we are all supposed to become fully-fledged European citizens. The way in which the economic crisis is being handled by France and Germany will lead to the disappearance of states. Over the coming decades, states will go bankrupt; they will have to renounce their fiscal sovereignty, sell their islands and lose the last source of their statehood. When a state cannot finance itself, it becomes insolvent. I think this treatment that has been prescribed to states at a time of crisis is intended not to bring the crisis to an end, but to bring states to an end.
– Is Germany interested in a powerful European Union, an entity along the lines of a United States of Europe, or does it have other goals that go beyond the EU framework?
– It’s time for us to look beyond this kind of simplistic approach to the various ideas for institutions that keep on flying around. Unity, or the degree of cohesion, of integration, does not result from a title or a definition. That kind of approach is completely wrong. Europeans must be united and integrated, but not necessarily under the umbrella of a particular name or according to a particular integration method. In no area where we speak of unity, of European integration, do we observe or find these things in reality. The reality is totally different. The monetary union is not a monetary union. The political union does not exist. Despite the name “union”, it doesn’t actually exist in any sphere. All we have is a customs union and a monetary union, but it’s an atypical monetary union, with a central bank which is not the parent bank of the seventeen central banks and is instead a subsidiary of them. The gold reserves of the states are still held by the national banks of each member state. The gold is not European. Each country has the right to print its own euro currency.
The various possible interpretations that arise from an inequitable, inhuman and unjust abuse of unity, which appeals primarily to the civic-mindedness and healthy consciences of ordinary people, cannot explain to us, identify, analyse or exemplify the components of European integration.
– And yet, the EU is a union of states, people, citizens, big finance or who else?
– To understand that more clearly, we must put to one side for a moment all these phrases and concepts that are bandied about so often – unity, integration, EU. These labels, which are an affront to the intelligence, education and common sense of every European citizen, leave an enormous amount of room for interpretation as to what the European Union should mean. What’s happening is that a magic trick is being played with the notion of European integration, and what is being conjured up is a hotchpotch that is hard to understand and gives rise to never-ending discussions and skirting around the issue. In this European construct, the true intentions of certain states are being masked by this misuse of terminology. Germany is pursuing not a European policy that is in the interests of all states on the continent, but a policy of looking to its own self-interest across this European area. So we would do well to put to one side for a moment this European terminology, which merely appeals to our identity as Europeans, or in other words a cultural feeling, loading and padding it out with political notions that defy justification or explanation. All they create is unease, misunderstanding and an outright fabrication.
– Is Europe perceived in the same way in Berlin as it is in Bucharest or Madrid? Or does each capital city have its own take on Europe? To borrow Kissinger’s term, does Europe have a hotline of its own?
– The Europeans who were around at the end of the Second World War would, of course, have given a different answer about Europe from the one that would have been given by Europeans at the end of the First World War, or the one that we would give today. I don’t think there is an answer for Europe which is representative of all European nations and remains valid over time. People’s expectations of Europe simply crystallize and give concrete expression to their aspirations for a better and more peaceful life and a decent minimum standard of living and prosperity, with free movement of people and economic and cultural cooperation between member states.
– The concept of united Europe was primarily a romantic one to begin with. Its eminent promoters included such figures as Kant and Victor Hugo. But what about today?
– For eastern Europe, what European integration means is belonging to a bloc together with other countries, expectations relating to living standards, prosperity and affiliation with a culture that eastern Europe associates with democracy and freedom. It means belonging to a bloc which is defined by freedom, democracy, equality and fairness and is wary of eastern influence. In Austria or Denmark, people’s expectations relate to their chances of being able to sell their goods on the European market, which also means that they will stand a better chance of raising their standard of living. People also hope for stability, credibility and security in a Europe that offers equal opportunities in terms of active coexistence and well-managed trade which will facilitate their own development.
– But in this family, there are favoured and disadvantaged members, privileged members and underprivileged members.
– The privileged members are the eastern Europeans.
– In the end, they too were allowed to join United Europe after the collapse of the Communist bloc and the break-up of the USSR.
[p. 181] AN ABNORMAL COUNTRY
– In her famous book “The Guns of August”, the American historian Barbara Tuchman describes the following scene. In August 1914, on the eve of the First World War, in a café in Aachen, a German intellectual tells an American journalist: “We Germans are the most industrious, the most earnest, the best-educated race in Europe. German Kultur will enlighten the world.” There is an entire body of literature devoted to German exceptionalism and Germany’s Sonderweg (special path), and this concept is often the subject of lively debates. Exceptionalism and the Sonderweg are sui generis superlatives intended to encapsulate the nation’s defining characteristic, but both are vague and ambiguous concepts with positive, negative or ambivalent connotations. We are thus left with a conflict between normality and exceptionalism.
– In 1999, Egon Bahr published an article entitled “The normalization of German foreign policy: mature partnership in place of comfortable wardship”in which he asserted that Germany had committed itself “to the path of normality”, or in other words, moving beyond the stage of being an “economic giant” and a “political dwarf”. In the years that followed reunification, Germany applied to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1992, expressed a desire to play an increasingly important role in the EU and became active in all spheres. The Bundeswehr’s intervention in the international mission in Kosovo (KFOR) in 1999 marked a decisive turning point in German foreign policy. For the first time since the Second World War, the German Army took part in a military engagement outside Germany. From November 2001 onwards, German troops were deployed in Afghanistan to serve alongside American soldiers, though Germany refused to send troops to Iraq in 2003. In November 2001, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke of Germany’s “growing responsibility” and “new duties”.
– While Germany’s international role had been defined by the equilibrium of the “dual legacy” – Adenauer’s attachment to the West and Brandt’s Ostpolitik – up until reunification, the new set of circumstances in which the country found itself necessitated a more active stance which would be viewed with suspicion by the Allies (except the USA).
– This dilemma behoved it to take a low profile on the international stage. President Roman Herzog believed that a “relaxed” foreign policy also meant normality – for instance, involvement in military operations in Kosovo, which lies outside the NATO area, or on a broader level, the assertion of Germany’s national interests in international affairs.
At the age of over ninety, the former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt put a new slant on the issue. When asked by a member of parliament when Germany would finally become a normal country, he replied: “Not in the foreseeable future, because the colossal and unique burden of our history militates against it. So does our central position as a demographic and economic heavyweight at the heart of our continent, which is very small but has incredible national diversity.” Unendowed with any official authority but imbued with the prestige afforded to him by history, the former chancellor reaffirmed Germany’s pre-eminent role in Europe on the basis of objective historical, geopolitical, demographic and economic factors.
By indirectly broaching the subject of Germany’s historic culpability for the outbreak of both world wars, Schmidt expanded on the idea of conflicts between the centre of Europe and its periphery. “The centre has always been a battlefield”, he remarked. In the seventeenth century, the parts of Europe that were worst affected by wars were German territories, and in the nineteenth century, Germany caused “calamities”. In any case, “on numerous occasions, we Germans have caused suffering to other nations on account of our situation as a central power.” Is being a central power a curse?
[p. 195] THE EUROPEAN APARTHEID MODEL
– How should we view the idea of a two-speed Europe when Europe is supposed, and proudly claims, to be a united European Union?
– I will compare it with the situation in South Africa during the apartheid era. We would be wrong to think that South Africa’s apartheid policy was nothing more than a policy of racial oppression of the coloured population under minority white domination. Like the European integration model of a two-speed Europe, the Pretoria system involved apartheid on a small scale and apartheid on a larger scale. The small-scale apartheid regulated the public’s segregation in everyday life, with various laws making provision for separate access to public transport, education, healthcare and public services in general, and the large-scale one divided the country into areas for whites and Bantustans for Africans.
– So we have “separate development”, which means apartheid in South Africa and a two-speed Europe in the European Union. Are these concepts comparable?
– Two-speed Europe is also based on a model whereby the degree of integration at the centre is different from that on the periphery, which of course manifests itself as prosperity in the centre and impoverishment on the fringes of Europe. Pretoria’s transformation of the Bantustans into so-called independent states under the stewardship of provincial chiefs was an essential step in the partitioning of South Africa as part of efforts to control the coloured population effectively. One of the best-known leaders of the Bantustan of Transkei was Kaiser Matanzima, who, armed to the teeth, kept the Xhosa tribe under control and ensured that its members did not stray into white-controlled territory. Pretoria armed the chiefs of these pseudo-states in order to enforce order and discipline at the gates of South Africa, using the “sovereignty” of the Bantustans as a means of control that was enforced by the latter’s own authorities more effectively than it would have been by white police officers.
– And what about the EU at the moment?
– In the modern-day EU, the dynamics are a little different. While South Africa created pseudo-sovereign states, the EU has whittled down the sovereignty of its member states to the point where it is fictitious, for the same purpose. Along similar lines, Nazi experts (Osterfeld and Windschuh) recommended that Europe should be governed indirectly through local elites so as not to arouse antipathy towards the overlord or spark a struggle for freedom. So, in order to enforce its inhumane austerity measures, in Bucharest among other places, the EU is relying on the all-powerful presence of another Kaiser, a bulwark to keep an impoverished populace at bay. The governing elites of the Bantustans were Pretoria’s most loyal allies. Corruption in the Bantustans and political nepotism formed the working basis of a system that went down in history as the world’s most insidious and inhuman model of exploitation. Only by that means, under the pretext of self-determination for South African tribes, could the ten per cent of the population that was white dominate the ninety per cent of the population that was black, and only by that means can over 400 million people, from Lisbon to Suceava, be controlled and exploited in the EU under the austerity regime. By compartmentalizing political influence in South Africa, Pretoria benefited from an extremely effective police security system, very cheap black labour and the consumption of South African goods funded by money from South African banks, and racial ideology spawned increasingly creative moral justifications for this odious segregation.
– Can the comparison be taken any further?
– The ten South African pseudo-states, which were not recognized by the international community and were located close to the gold mines and industrial areas, laid the foundations for the systematic exploitation of the coloured population. Romania’s accession to the EU gave big European corporations unfettered access to the country’s natural riches and free shipment of goods over land and rivers, and allowed the country to be transformed into a market for exports unlike any other. Romanians have yet to realize that by perfect analogy with the “missionary work” of the colonists and the notion of ancestral sin, the EU’s position subtly suggests the myth of incompetence and inability to adapt, integrate, absorb funds and tackle corruption. EU funds are in reality a myth, a virtually inaccessible opportunity with an absorption rate of approximately five per cent for eastern Europe. This virtual opportunity is a favourite topic of enthusiastically pro-integration analysts who explain at great length how national salvation can be achieved through the absorption of funds. As equal members of this virtual union and as Bantustans of Berlin, the new eastern European members deserve more generous support and an end to the Union’s hypocrisy for the sacrifices they have made.
– In South Africa, the bulwarks were the Bantustans. What are the bulwarks in United Europe?
– The method of integration espoused by Charlemagne, which is over a thousand years old, propels the nations of eastern Europe into the role of a bulwark against extra-European enemies. This strategy works most effectively when the bulwarks are not united and when each tribe ruling a bastion of Europe, encouraged by the right to self-determination, would Kosovize just about every village. Once the Iron Curtain had fallen, both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia fragmented after Slovenia and Croatia were recognised by Germany as independent states. The slogan of self-determination, with its echoes in Pretoria, and the manipulation of minorities in the Balkans are a sword of Genscher hanging over the heads of all eastern European states, which face the threat of further Kosovization. There is a bigger conflict of interests between western and eastern Europe than there is in our immediate vicinity.
Until democratic elections were held for the first time in 1994, the Pretoria government asserted that apartheid enabled it to maintain peace throughout the region and harmony between tribes that were hostile towards one another. The reality was completely different; the tribes had to be kept apart to stop them uniting against the overlord, but once they had won the elections, they pursued a policy that was truly in the interests of the majority and removed the puppets in the Bantustans.
– What lesson should the EU learn from what happened in South Africa?
– The Brussels version of Pretoria’s policy appears to involve drugging the Bantustans with loans and imports and eliminating local trades without political integration within the Community structures. For a few decades, apartheid as an official policy legalized and maintained white dominance in the south of the African continent, which had existed for centuries, and facilitated extraction of gold-bearing deposits and access to an African market and cheap labour. In a similar way, European integration has enshrined in law a woeful situation in the Balkan countries with economic pressure from the West which has wiped out all development in Wallachia, as Eminescu lamented over a hundred and forty years ago.
– What has Romania received in return from the EU, other than slogans and monitoring?
– Just as the right to freedom of movement for unemployed black people in South Africa was curtailed, Romanians in the EU find themselves in the same situation as regards access to the labour market. A Romanian passport that says “European Union” on the cover is a Bantustan passport. Just as Pretoria did not want an influx of blacks settling in white towns and carried out passport checks at all crossing points between the Bantustans and South Africa, Romanians are on the receiving end of European discrimination as they have been left out of the Schengen Area. South Africa’s policy of discrimination, which created political barriers for people by way of the Bantustans but maintained a homogeneous economic area without customs or monetary barriers, can now be observed within the European Union. For instance, you can see the concept of “separate development” at work in the EU’s fiscal policy, which has turned Romania into a hard-working contributor that pays its dues but receives no benefits. While Romania has relinquished all forms of economic protection by abolishing customs duties and opened its doors wide to the EU, the latter is treating us in the same way that South Africa treated black people in the Bantustans. Romanians are a ready-made army of labourers because they have seen fit to deindustrialize their country, ruin their agriculture and drive their technicians, architects, doctors, teachers and engineers away to EU plantations.
– So what is the point of this European Union for a country like Romania, and others besides? How could a country like Romania defend its own interests within the European Union?
– The EU now claims to be a political and not just a customs union, and with each passing day, it is treating the partners on the periphery in an increasingly Pretoria-like manner. In this situation, Romania should of course seek allies within eastern Europe and the Balkans, or even on other continents, in order to halt the merciless policy of austerity, which is just creating jobs in central Europe and illusions of prosperity on the periphery. The British Empire, which exploited Indians and deprived their country of raw materials in order to sell them textiles produced in Great Britain, was brought to its knees by Gandhi with the simple slogan “Don’t buy cotton!” The biggest African uprisings were sparked by the law on passports, which obliged Africans to carry an identity document wherever they went within Pretoria’s Schengen Area. These brave protests went down in history, just as apartheid is a thing of the past. Unlike the Romanian tribe, the Hungarian tribe has chosen a chief who is no longer willing to pay contributions to Pretoria and the IMF. Now we can only hope that the public protests in Romania will draw inspiration from this and that other countries will also follow suit, not so much in order to change Pretoria’s name to Tshwane (the new name of the South African capital) as to bring about a transition to a policy based on dignity and national pride. From South Africa’s example we can learn that political will and emancipation of the bulwarks on Europe’s periphery can overturn even the most unbearable injustice.
[p. 205] THE EURO ILLUSION
– Let’s agree that united Europe – not only as a noble and generous concept, but also as a concrete institution – is a virtual construct, a Matrix. Nonetheless, European monetary union, the euro as a common currency, are concrete realities and achievements, and the disappearance of the euro would not be regarded as a disaster if the euro were merely something abstract. Does the euro exist as a concrete reality, as real proof of European unity and union?
– Yes and no. The euro is, and is not, a common currency. To be clear about this, let’s consider this point at a more leisurely pace. Recent research in the field of neurology shows that financial decisions are processed in the cerebellum, which is the only part of the brain that we still have in common with reptiles. But even if we’re not au fait with the results of neurological research, in Romanian slang, we use the metaphor of a “lizard” to refer to deception, a lie or a swindle. So it can be said that we have something in common with reptiles as regards those decisions taken in the cerebellum which facilitated the acceptance of a currency that is common in name only, when in reality it’s a construct that embodies the slang meaning of the Romanian word for “lizard”. The plans devised by the big European brains that decided to adopt this currency unit that is common in name only are designed to inspire, through the power of suggestion, a feeling of European unity. The creation of the euro was the outcome of a decision-making process that occurred in the cerebellum. So the financial decisions of ordinary citizens, which are processed in the cerebellum as I mentioned before, only relate to primary, fundamental aspects of transactions and do not involve analysis of the system as a whole. Output from the cerebellum does not allow for questions such as: are German or Austrian banknotes safer than other ones? Irish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek sovereign bonds carry a considerable risk for investors at the moment, and the same reasoning applies to euro banknotes from these countries.
– Does that mean that banknotes from different parts of the eurozone are not all the same? If Greece goes bankrupt, is it possible that the value of euro notes issued in Greece will no longer have the same value as other euro notes issued in Germany, for instance?
– Although banknotes from across the eurozone all look identical, if the monetary union disintegrates, their true appearance and worth will reveal themselves, even though they do not bear country-specific designs. The Bundesbank and the European Central Bank have created a special webpage featuring frequently asked questions. One of these questions is “does the serial number on the euro banknotes contain a country code?” The reply is: “The euro banknotes bear (…) signature letters to indicate which central bank authorized the printing of the banknotes.” European banknotes can easily be identified by their serial number; all we need to know is something that the Governing Council has never stated publicly, which is that letters of the alphabet have been assigned as identification codes to euro countries in reverse alphabetical order of their names. So, for example, banknotes from Belgium (België/Belgique), which is the first country alphabetically, received the last letter of the alphabet, Z, while Finland (Suomi), which is the last country alphabetically, was assigned the twelfth letter of the alphabet, L. Banknotes from the Austrian National Bank are marked with an N, and notes from Germany’s Bundesbank are marked with an X. The only exception to this rule is the National Bank of Greece (Ellas), which was assigned the last but one letter of the alphabet, Y, which would otherwise have been assigned to the Danish National Bank (Danmark). Among those who have highlighted this issue is Max Otte, a professor of business administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms (Germany), who has given a warning about the differences between banknotes from eurozone countries.
– What is the significance of these differences, and what does this “national” identification of euro banknotes actually mean?
– The country code is a sign that provision for the break-up of the European Monetary System was made even before it was implemented. This arrangement not only satisfies a set of logistical requirements, but is also a “lizard”, as we say in Romanian – that is, it makes it possible to control certain risks separately (at member state level), such as the risk of states being excluded from the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). If a country decides to leave the EMU, only banknotes bearing that state’s serial letter would be withdrawn from circulation.
Despite a legal guarantee that currently governs the status of the euro as legal tender, laws and treaties can be annulled or amended at any time. It is likely that this system is also a post-Maastricht continuation of the Deutschmark, albeit under a different name. This fact highlights the atypical structure of this monetary federation, which has been given the ideological name of “union”.
– So let’s come back to the remark, which we’ve already touched upon, made by the ambassador Ernst Freiherr von Weizsäcker during the era of the Third Reich about the metamorphosis of unification from a real political concept to a virtual one.
– Von Weizsäcker said in December 1939 that it was the difference between political unity and “virtual” unity that would guarantee unity in Europe. Another integration method involves creating an image of “great economic, moral and political unity”. Creating a “virtual” union is, of course, much simpler and easier to communicate ideologically. Such integration methods as a working basis for Europe are, of course, considered only by the cerebellum. Now we can only hope that the cerebrum will be used when big decisions on a new European order are taken. For the time being, we would be well advised not to hold onto euro banknotes marked with the serial letter Y.
[p. 219] THE SONDERWEG: A SPECIAL PATH
– In February 2012, Die Zeit observed that “Nazi comparisons keep on being thrown at Germans.” Such accusations have become more frequent of late. At a conference in Portugal, the German writer Ingo Schulze was asked whether the Germans will achieve with the euro what they failed to achieve with their panzers: European domination.
– Similar remarks can be heard in the public domain at the moment, especially in Greece, where they are being made even more forcefully. At other times, the reprimands are levelled with more delicacy, for example when Germany’s policy of budgetary austerity is likened to that of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, Adolf Hitler’s predecessor.
– Amid the current crisis, frequent mention is also being made of the “Sonderweg”, the concept of the“German exception” – for instance, when the Merkel administration refuses to print banknotes.
– But the historical fact concerning the “exception of Germany” that is brought up most frequently of all is Auschwitz. The explanation given by the Hamburg-based publication for these comparisons with the Nazi regime is that “for the first time since 1945,Germany is back at full strength, not because it set out to be, but because the European debt crisis has made it the economically and politically most powerful country in Europe. Germany is now intruding deeply into the internal affairs of other states. Little by little, the country is acquiring a European role akin to the global role that the US played for a long time – as a power that used and sometimes abused its might, was to blame for everything, was expected to save the day and came in for a lot of stick for the way in which it did so.”
– Some politicians are saying things that only serve to reinforce this perception. We could cite the case of Volker Kauder, the chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, who asserted that “Europe is speaking German”.
– Kevin Myers, a columnist who writes for the Irish Independent, argues that the domestic economies of half a dozen EU member states have been broken by their adoption of the euro, a single currency that should properly be called the Grossdeutschmark, he says. As the German juggernaut bulldozes its way towards a “united Europe”, the member states are helpless. The Irish columnist cites a number of German companies and inventions including “Mercedes Benz, Audi, VW, Krupp, Siemens (…) washing machines, jet engines, ballistic rockets, radar, television, toothpaste and aspirin”, and claims that competing with the Germans is futile. “No one in Europe can”, he concludes. “They are the best. Without barriers of some kind, we end up in thrall to them: while we had the punt, and our own interest rates, we had a natural defence, a dam-wall against inundation by Grossdeutschland. But the euro – the Grossdeutschmark – has destroyed those defences, with the result that at least two future generations of Irish people face unpayable debts to the Grossdeutschland Imperial Bank, which trades under the disingenuous title of ‘European Central Bank’.”
[p. 221] THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE
– The Romanian president has talked several times – quite persistently, therefore – about the United States of Europe as a possible future political project for our continent. At a meeting between Sarkozy and Merkel, the French president spoke of the need for a “new economic government” for Europe, without going into details about how it would be created or operate. However, the President of the European Commission stated at around the same time that there was no immediate prospect of a United States of Europe being created. Where does the idea of a United States of Europe in the modern era actually come from, and what should we make of the contradictory statements we are hearing? Can we put them down to disorientation and confusion in the face of the crisis that is engulfing Europe and the world, or are there ulterior motives and concealed intentions that have to be implemented cautiously and by stealth?
– The idea of the United States of Europe, which is not a new one, is the outcome of efforts to find a political way out of an economic crisis. The peripheral states of the European Union are hesitant about it, however, as they would stand to lose some of their sovereignty. The Nazi plan for a United States of Europe dovetails with Germany’s perennial policy on Europe, which came into being even before the unified German state was created and was developed during the eras of Bismarck, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, divided Germany and reunified Germany.
– In the first book that he wrote in Norway, in 1940, Willy Brandt wrote that he too was in favour of creating a central and eastern European federation as the first step towards the United States of Europe. He believed this federation was necessary because of the common economic interests and export markets of the countries concerned. But let’s leave the origins of the idea to one side and talk about European economic governance as a step forwards on the road to creating the United States of Europe. Is this plan viable?
– This plan has generated grave misgivings. First of all, the extent to which an economic government for the eurozone financed solely by Germany and France could be truly European is questionable, because there is a danger that these states, which are behind the plan, will look primarily to their own economic interests. History-writers and a plethora of renowned institutes of European studies ignored Nazi Germany’s plans for a United Europe when they dogmatically set the moment of the European Union’s foundation at 1951, after the war.
– There is talk of a certain amount of national sovereignty being handed over when the United States of Europe are created.How should Romania behave in Europe today?
– It is tempting to believe that Romania’s role in Europe has always been decided by the major European powers (Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey) without the country making a contribution of its own. Modern-day Romania in the European Union is autistic and ineffectual, and forever lacking in specific ideas and plans. In particular, it should promote its national interests and develop specific plans for cooperation in central and south-eastern Europe, the Danube basin, the Black Sea region, the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine.
Romania must not rush into ambitious plans to build Europe that follow on from the idea of a Reich. It would do better to define its precise position and policies vis-à-vis the USA, Russia, China, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Arab world and the rest of the world.
By virtue of its geographical and cultural situation, Romania could acquire regional political weight and shake off its usual image as a country on Europe’s periphery to become a gateway between East and West.
Promoting regional integration along the lines of the Swiss model, which is based on the retention of sovereignty by the cantons within the Confederation and mutual understanding between peoples based on the principle of direct democracy, would guarantee stability for Romania and maintain its statehood intact. Although Romania declared its independence 134 years ago, its foreign policy doctrine is still underpinned by archaic ideas and firmly anchored in the suzerainty model, and has always favoured foreign leadership over true sovereignty. How pointless were the deaths of millions in the struggle for independence and freedom when the president’s office is being so open-handed with that most valuable of political assets, sovereignty?
– President Băsescu could be said to be in the Eurosceptic camp as he has asserted that Romania is paying for the recapitalization of banks in the eurozone through very high interest rates. In saying that, however, the president was focusing more on the effects than on the causes of the crisis. But where might one find the origins of this deficient structure of the modern-day EU to which the Romanian head of state was finally referring?
– Herbert Martini, from the Reich Ministry of Economics, put the Third Reich’s monetary plans into effect in the following way: countries had to retain their national monetary institutions, which meant that they could still have different interest rates, but control over lending and monetary base policy was exercised by Germany. According to a 1940 analysis by German experts, Germany needed to pursue a policy of increasing lending and the money supply in the occupied countries during the initial phase in order to boost consumption and make itself popular. It seems that Romania was drugged with loans when it joined the EU according to a carefully-crafted plan.
– High prices would be beneficial for German exports and serve as an important means of deindustrializing the occupied countries. What did Germany do in the past, and what has it learnt from the war?
– After the Reichsmark was introduced in occupied Poland, the Reichsbank noted that this monetary policy had created inflationary downdrafts in Germany and decided to withdraw the Reichsmark from Poland so that it could be replaced by a “New Złoty” administered by Germany. That way, the increase in lending and the money supply in Poland would affect only Poland’s economy and not Germany’s. This partitioning of a monetary area and the establishment of an economic model that neatly separated the free movement of goods from capital flows constituted a decisive shift in European monetary cooperation.
According to the expert’s recommendation, the retention of a national bank would outwardly betoken a degree of independence in the foreign policy of countries, whereas in reality they would be so closely bound up with Germany that they would be unable to exit the clearing system. The novel aspect here was the fact that an exchange rate between the Reichsmark and the currencies of the countries in the clearing mechanism would be set at a level that would boost German exports and, at the same time, make the foreign countries’ economies less competitive.
Since the leu appears to be pegged to the euro and the National Bank of Romania’s currency reserves are being sacrificed in order to prop up an overvalued exchange rate against the euro, and since the interest rate has reached an unacceptable level, there is nothing to stop us scrutinizing the structure of the Eurosystem in a more sceptical light.
A European trade system that provided raw materials for German industry and a sizeable export market without Germany’s currency reserves having to be tapped into formed the basis of the new trade and currency model for the Berlin clearing union. The current architecture of the Eurosystem is likewise based on a system made up of national central banks operating according to the principle of decentralization of operations, which are known by the politically correct term “branches of the ECB”, and non-implementation of uniform interest rates.
[p. 225] THE STEPMOTHER IN THE STORY OF EUROPE
– How could we explain Germany’s policy on Europe over time in layman’s terms? Because it seems that the general perception is very much at odds with the historical reality and the current political reality.
– I would take the well-known German fairy tale, Snow White. Fairy tales may be too old hat for some people, but they are still popular with others because they encapsulate people’s wishes and fears. Snow White can be read in that way too, as a psychological fairy tale.
– So it can be used to gain a better understanding of the policy, as a fairy tale for adults that relates to reality.
– And we can outline Germany’s role in Europe by interpreting this fairy tale.
– Which just so happens to be German itself.
– “Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, as snow fell from the vast sky in big, soft flakes…” That’s how the fairy tale begins. And in the middle of Europe’s winter, a winter of crisis, Europe is being reshaped. What do we learn about Snow White in the fairy tale? We know that her father, the King, has remarried since the former queen died and that his new wife is vain and haughty, and cannot bear the thought of anyone being prettier than she is. When the German Empire was created under Wilhelm I, the balance of power in Europe was overturned by the emergence and hegemony of Germany. Germany’s attitude during the Congress of Berlin in 1878 can be likened to the behaviour of a stepmother towards south-eastern Europe.
– It was at the Congress of Berlin that the new queen of Europe – newly-unified Germany – first revealed her true nature.
– When the Queen asked her eternal question “who is the fairest of them all?”, the mirror’s reply that Snow White was the fairest of them all must have really worried her. The Queen ordered a huntsman to take the young girl to a forest and kill her. When she put her question to the mirror once again, the stepmother found out that the order she had given the huntsman had not been carried out and that Snow White was alive and well.
– How does this relate to Europe at that time?
– Queen Germany signed business contracts with the new independent states of south-eastern Europe to prevent them from becoming industrialized and placed them under a heavy fiscal burden that has no equivalent in the fairy tale, and then Berlin bought their sovereignty. Germany’s claim to European leadership as staked at the beginning of the twentieth century by the German liberal Friedrich Naumann equates to the German stepmother’s claim to being the fairest of them all.
– Libraries are bursting with books about exceptionalism, Germany’s mission and vocation, the Sonderweg, Germany’s unique development path and Germany as a country out of the ordinary.
– From the outside only, the imperial federation of central European states had to look as though it was made up of sovereign states, whereas in reality it had to be under German leadership. Soon afterwards, the sovereign path followed by European states after Versailles must have annoyed Germany so much that even ninety years later, the Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, expressed the view, in stepmotherly fashion, that the First World War had pushed the principle of sovereignty in Europe to an absurd extreme.
– There was never supposed to be anyone else on the continent like Queen Germany. Didn’t Friedrich List say that not all European peoples have the right to sovereignty?
– By way of various ploys – peaceful penetration, the civilizing mission or the Drang nach Osten – the Queen, disguised as an old pedlar woman, advertised her wares with her strident cries. “Good wares for sale! Good and pretty wares for sale!”, she shouted to Snow White outside the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs. On the pretext of a fair trade, the old woman lured these countries and made them dependent on her. During the Interbellum, she used the clearing system to offer prices that were above the global market price only on paper in order to acquire raw materials and agricultural produce. Like the stepmother in the tale of the Brothers Grimm, Germany has always availed itself of ploys as a means of penetrating European states. This was very clearly summed up by Dr. Wolff at the Reichsbank when he said: “Our endeavour is now to induce the states of Europe, through ploys and perhaps violence, to sell their output to Germany and leave their balances, if any, in Berlin.”
– Theploysbeing peaceful penetration, and the violence being the world wars.
– And how does the fairy tale continue? The stepmother brings along a multicoloured corset and Snow White thinks it’s safe to let the apparently honest woman in. Germany, too, has always publicly claimed to be offering fair prices to the states of Europe and has been regarded by them as a decent and reliable partner. The same thing was done by the Europe Working Group at the Reich Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Ribbentrop, who recommended that Germany should always be portrayed within Europe as a socially-conscious, supportive and tolerant country. Wolff’s scheme applied to the internal working instructions of the Reich Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the stepmother’s latent desire to kill Snow White by putting her in a corset. Just as the dwarfs saved Snow White by cutting her free from the corset, the Allies rescued Europe from Nazi Germany and saved it from the business loans.
– The corset being the new European order in Hitler’s day, and later the modern-day European Union.
– And the stepmother, Germany, is once again planning to murder Snow White – other European states – because the mirror has said that the girl is the fairest of them all. This time, the Queen, disguised as a harmless-looking old woman, is trying to kill Snow White with a poisoned comb. Once again, she is shouting “Good wares for sale!” to trick Snow White, and once again, Europe is unaware that behind her seeming desire to encourage free trade by lifting customs barriers lies a plan to impose hegemony across the continent.
– So after the corset, we have the poisoned comb.
– The comb is not just meant to smooth out Snow White’s beautiful hair, but also to impose on Europe a regulatory policy that satisfies Germany’s wishes. The poisonous aspect of this regulatory policy is the systematic hostility of Anglo-Saxon liberalism, represented by the comb, towards the creation of a special path for Germany by means of a state-run economy, by contrast with the free movement of economic forces. Through the euro, the European economy, combed in the way Germany expects it to be, is also capable of making the member states less competitive and deindustrializing them, which was also the goal of Göring’s Four-Year Plan for the rest of Europe.
After the Queen’s second attempt to do away with Snow White had failed, the Queen went to Snow White’s house disguised as a peasant woman to kill her with a poisoned apple. In Germany’s relationship with Europe today, political capital is the unseen element. The political poisoned apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree of knowledge of stability if it hadn’t led entire countries to the brink of ruin through criteria set according to German standards.
– From the poisoned apple to the apple of knowledge…
– For the sake of greater knowledge, the citizens on Europe’s periphery are now supposed to protect creditors oppressed by an onerous fiscal burden from ruin; in reality, the euro crisis in Greece and Spain is a crisis for German and French lending institutions. It’s thoughtless to accuse these states of having lived beyond their means and hush up the fact that German exports are the biggest beneficiary of the export subsidy that Germany has channelled towards itself via the rest of Europe. This creates the impression that these states have been handed money, just as the Queen handed the poisoned apple to Snow White. While Snow White falls down dead instantly, the Greek and Italian governments headed by experts are closely connected with the notion of the apple of knowledge. Besides being obliged to make savings, the technocratic governments are barely in a position to make their countries more competitive and curb the burgeoning unemployment rates. All that this leads to is the ruin of the middle class, the sale of state utility suppliers at dumping prices and the surrender of infrastructure to creditors almost free of charge.
– Of course, the Brothers Grimm would never have imagined, when they wrote this tale for children of all ages, that it could also serve as an allegory for the state policy and economic practices of their country over time.
– We are witnesses, in both the fairy tale and in politics, to the violent attempt by the “mother” to put a “straitjacket” on her daughter. Yet this is the point where the states of Europe have a duty and opportunity to find their own way of doing things, to appear as they really are, with their own production capacities and their own economic policies, and hence their own lifestyle, and to define their own identity without having to speak German. This is the source of Europe’s enviable beauty.
– But the Queen, disguised as a harmless old woman, led Snow White to believe that she was eager to help her, to offer her good and beautiful wares for sale, and showed no signs of meaning the girl any harm. “She’s clearly an honest woman, so there’s no reason not to let her in! There can be no harm in it…”, Snow White thought to herself.
– Similarly, when Germany is asked about her relationship with Europe, she replies that she wants “only the best” for Europe and that her heart beats only for Europe. Mother Germany’s subtle violence and her noisy rhetoric about stability are no less dangerous than her envy of Snow White’s beauty. As the guidelines turn into suffering and the daughter matures, Europe is stirring from her deep slumber to challenge a similar mother for the sake of genuine European solidarity and cooperation. One can only hope that Germany won’t react quite as badly as the Queen did.
[p. 234] VIRTUAL EUROPE
– But how could Germany’s intentions have been concealed beneath a cloak of European unity? After all, citizens across the continent take a very positive view of this unity, save for any temporary setbacks, shall we say, such as the current European and global crisis.
– Because this Europe is a virtual one. It was Ribbentrop who introduced us to the idea of a virtual Europe. To win over the Allies across the continent to his European concept, Ribbentrop proposed the term “virtual Europe” because this idea made it much easier to achieve a degree of cohesion and unity. A virtual form of unity was dreamt up by creating and defining all manner of terms and institutions for Europe, and this offered European citizens something more tangible to latch onto and gave believers something that was closer to the kind of unity that they wanted to see. It’s much easier to create a virtual union, an unreal world, a Matrix, than to provide evidence that integration is concrete.
– And yet the European Union, the acquis communautaire and the euro are concrete realities, they’re not just virtual.
– I quite agree, but their essence is at variance with what is described in politically-correct European rhetoric. Let’s not forget that alongside all these concrete or virtual things – and the concrete ones tend to be presented in an embellished form – history and the war also make up part of Germany’s profile as a country. Germany’s profile in modern-day Europe is defined by the monetary crisis. The crisis stands as a concrete reality alongside a whole raft of definitions of virtual concepts, such as European citizenship, the single currency and the European Parliament, which are merely components of a virtual, unreal Europe. But this virtual Europe doesn’t operate according to real rules even in states that didn’t have Communist regimes, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. This demonstrates that Europe has become a sad and unfortunate Matrix which exists only in a virtual form and is difficult to explain. It has distorted the entire wealth of vocabulary available to researchers and distorts all communication and discussions between analysts, leading them to proceed from a virtual premise in the belief that it’s a real one. You can understand why umpteen thousand explanations have been put forward for this crisis, in this form. Clearly, this contemptible and dangerous game with the virtual concept of Europe stands no chance whatsoever of leading to the identification of a single problem, a cause, and cannot pinpoint the sine qua non of the crisis. The distortedness of the political, legal and economic vocabulary that is used to talk about a non-existent unity is one of the biggest problems of our time, and it has rendered scientists incapable of finding a solution to this crisis.
– And what is the real Europe?
– Let’s recall, for instance, that in one of his last public speeches, Mussolini said that Germany still owed an answer to the question of what it meant by the “new European order”. Germany, he said, was forever losing a war and an idea and failing to keep its word, when for years it had promised the nations of Europe a new European order. He concluded that the plan was to turn Europe into a German protectorate.
– Where have we ended up today, after sixty years of a European Matrix?
– This Matrix, as I said before, has warped not only the age-old vocabulary of an entire continent, but also the right-minded thinking of an entire generation. Over sixty years, a whole generation has been cut adrift. Will this lost generation be able to fight for the rehabilitation, reacquisition and repossession of healthy terms that mean unity, uprightness and lawfulness in Europe? After sixty years during which a new generation of people has been born, or rather two new generations, it’s hard to explain to them that what people call unity today is completely different from what people thought it was as many as two thousand years ago.
– How can united Europe and European integration become concrete?
– To guarantee a high degree of cooperation, which would be wholly welcome, and a degree of cohesion, functionality and protection of a mutual interest, this integration needs to be as clear, visible and real as can be. It must not be enmeshed in ideology or propaganda of any kind. And whatever happens, it must not continually be associated with a virtual desideratum. The distance between virtual Europe and real Europe is the distance from Ribbentrop to the financial crisis.
– Who benefits from things being left up in the air and a festive mood being created when it comes to the realities of European integration?
– Leaving things up in the air is the best recipe, because it leads to disillusionment and complete disorientation and deprives European nations of their last hope for a better life. But it’s probably also a recipe which, one fine day, will lead these nations to beg Germany finally to take up the reins of Europe, as Ribbentrop recommended decades ago. This virtual Europe lacks a clear direction, doesn’t follow a concrete plan and resides on a general plane. The natural consequences of this are disillusionment, frustration and the political dismemberment of many European countries, and that will only encourage Germany to assume the helm of the entire continent.
– And yet there aren’t too many Eurosceptics.
– No, because the campaign for this European goal is a battle between logic and dialectics. Because the European Union is floating in a virtual realm and is based on dialectics, the reality is difficult to decipher and demystify with the aid of logical grounds and arguments. What we have is a clash between different schools of thought that are completely incompatible with one another. European dialectics is making Eurosceptics look like frustrated, unfulfilled naysayers who have failed to grasp Europe’s true purpose.
[p. 237] THE OBSESSION WITH EXPANSION
– An entire body of literature is devoted to the common destiny of Europe and Germany. The assessments vary greatly, some being positive and some negative. For instance, the American political analyst George Friedman observes that over the course of history, the Germans, who have always felt a need to extend their reach, have been either traders or soldiers and have alternated between trade and wars. Germany expands across the continent either peacefully or by force. How can we explain Germany’s never-ending European propensities?
– Let’s begin with Friedrich List, who said in the middle of the nineteenth century that German taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the redistribution of wealth between the country’s rich and poor. Redistribution should take place across the continent, from the periphery to the centre, he argued. So, social imbalances in Germany should be addressed in such a way as not to affect the country’s own ruling class and elites; assets and wealth from the periphery should be used.
– In other words, European integration also implies a special relationship between the centre and the periphery of the continent.
– The centre and the periphery, yes, but I would add that this centre, primarily Germany, has an ethnically homogeneous population base and is more than just an urban region. It also has an ideology and a well-structured policy. The “centrality argument” that Germany always invokes is a geopolitical one and is meant to explain and present Germany in all its glory by reference to its position on the continent. But I think that if Germany had been located on Europe’s periphery, it would have pursued the same policy – that is, a German-centric policy. So it’s not Germany’s geographical location that has dictated its policy as to what European unity means, but rather the central role that this country, which does indeed have a special standing on the continent, arrogates to itself. Yet perhaps we should ask ourselves whether a country that lost two world wars and had previously achieved national unity itself through another war has the right pedigree for us to trust its European policy fully. A country with a track record like that can’t command the same European credibility as countries like Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands or France. There are countries that haven’t necessarily distinguished themselves in history by resorting to aggression, hegemonic tendencies and so on.
– And yet Germany has extended its reach across the continent in every period of history…
– Yes, but Germany must also show regard for the interests of other European countries, of every country. It’s not Germany’s role to grant each nation a particular place in the European family. European countries have earned their own due place in Europe and the world by virtue of their own history. They already have their place in Europe, there’s no need for Germany to decide or confirm it for them. Romania, for instance, has a better and a safer place than Germany because it isn’t reliant on wars and doesn’t need to penetrate foreign markets all the time in an effort to sustain itself. Like other European countries, Romania sustains itself by cultivating its land and by means of what its people think and create, even in these unfortunate times of austerity. Unlike other countries, Romania doesn’t ask its neighbours persistently or in an overbearing manner to accept its products at any price or on any terms.
By contrast, I believe that Germany has unacceptable expectations with regard to its standard of living, and they can only be financed by Europe’s periphery. This means that we are dealing not with a European problem, but with a strictly German problem. Germany needs to cut its coat according to its cloth. It’s not Europe’s fault that this country is artificial, and I say “artificial” because it can’t live off what it produces and what it cultivates. It’s probably too industrialized from the point of view of European peace. But as a continent, we cannot now submit ourselves to Germany in order to sustain its industry. Europeans aren’t beholden to Germany in this respect.
– And how can Germany become a “normal” country?
– Germany should probably become an agricultural country, and it should probably focus less on corporations and factories and more on cultivating its fields. The unnatural, artificial side of Germany and the bellicose component of German policy stem from the Wilhelmine Reich’s burning ambition to transform Germany into an industrial state. But if Germany aspired to become an industrial state, why should it not also accept the fact that the days of its role in a Europe that disagrees with Germany’s policy are numbered? After seventy years of Soviet rule, the USSR realized that it couldn’t function without a market economy or capitalism and reverted to the capitalist way of life that it had followed before the Russian Revolution. In the same way, Germany must understand that it can’t govern Europe by force just so that it can be assured of a high level of industry and ever-growing exports. A nation with Germany’s agricultural tradition has missed an opportunity as a country. I don’t believe that Germany, a country peopled with so many enlightened individuals and blessed with the culture that it has, would be unable to find happiness in the countryside. Why should the continent pay for Germany’s industrial prowess with so much pain, bitterness and spillage of blood?