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Well to defend some of the rhetoric in Greece, when Greeks say "Nazis" they do not refer to the Holocaust (although that claimed a disproportionate number of Greek Jews), but to generalized horror. Travel to Crete for example, and you will see in inland villages, column after commemorative column with the names of those executed summarily, by the Nazi occupation forces. And these are events within living memory of many. Apart from the actual mass killings, murder and pillage, the German occupation was also indirectly responsible for the last recorded famine in Europe AFAIK, where ~300.000 people starved to death, mostly in the cities. My mother-in-law has childhood memories of the cart that went daily around her neighborhood picking the corpses of those starved to death from the streets and the sidewalks, which then they moved on to bury in unmarked mass graves.

So when soup-kitchens form around Greece, and thousands of people go homeless as a result of policies widely perceived to be instigated by the German government, it isn't the Shoah people have on their minds when carrying plackards with Merkel in a Nazi uniform.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:16:19 PM EST
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Talos, I know that. Most Germans do not, though. They find these placards very offensive and unfair and in an emotionalised climate it is impossible to speak about it, and about the different meanings of the nazi symbolic. I suspect it explains a bit of the high approval rates for Merkel. I find the German rhetoric and the lazy-Greeks-campaign at least as offensive and I am shocked that the communication can break down so quickly.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:44:02 PM EST
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The show of solidarity around Germany (i.e., i.e.2) helped a lot I can tell you. So did a group of German protesters, protesting outside the German embassy in Athens and getting arrested for it... The thing is, as people are pushed below poverty en masse, Schauble on TV pontificating on how y'all deserve it doesn't help at all...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:05:57 PM EST
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Maybe the lack of a common language is more important than we care to believe.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 01:32:09 AM EST
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Well here comes that argument again. When Germans see Nazi references, is the holocaust the first thing they think of? Not WW2? I feel a bit confused.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:13:34 AM EST
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Yes, Germans will understand that as a reference to the Holocaust, which is why they find the current produce of Greek cartoonists so unfair.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 06:22:08 AM EST
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But you can't really separate the two. Without the war the holocaust is hard to imagine. Even the action T4, that is the killing of mentally handicapped, started at the beginning of the war. It is easier to justify all sorts of killing when organized killing has started anyway, to hide a heap of corpses with a heap of corpses.

Quite apart from the facts, in the consciousness in Germany the Second World War is the holocaust and then the eastern front in the Soviet union. It is a bit as if you would ask if the americans remember slavery and not the civil war.  

Anyway I was very much not talking about any protest signs in Greece but about comparisons partly to the nationalsocialistic dictatorship, partly explicit to the holocaust right here on this blog.

by IM on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 08:50:13 AM EST
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The holocaust would have been unthinkable without the war, but you can't reverse the statement.

You have read Talos's post above (btw, I have been to Crete, and I have seen impressive memorials there). It's not only Greece: many Europeans connote "occupation and starvation" rather than "holocaust" when they make a nazi reference. They think they can make themselves understood that way.

Germans connote "holocaust" before other concepts. They too think that everyone connotes in the same way.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 09:06:21 AM EST
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here in rural italy there are people who remember and still talk about how cruel the nazis were.

perhaps that cruelty was par for the course for most any invading/occupying war machine, while the holocaust was novel, in its sheer scale and industrial efficiency, so that's why people in germany blow off any other parts as just normal behaviour during wartime. all armies are perceived as more or less inhumane after all. no saints on the battlefield...

ethnic cleansing is as old as time, whereas the holocaust was organised genocide on an historically unsurpassed level.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:41:15 AM EST
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I think that aside from the Holocaust, the other pillar of Nazi horror is that it brought to Europe practices and methods used till then by Europeans against Third World colonies and darker skinned folks. I note that a decade after the war, the UK didn't have a problem with large scale concentration camps and a massive military operations affecting non-combatants, including starving them, as long as it was in Kenya...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:39:38 PM EST
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excellent, under-appreciated point...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 04:16:05 AM EST
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Yes, I understand that. And I don't really have a problem with rethoric in Greece, as I wrote elsewhere:

A swedish kind of death:

Within a national discourse in a country that was occupied by Nazi Germany I guess the occupation may trumf the Holocaust as primary reference and thus be instead if you mention nazis you better say something about the occupation because that is what your audience will have on their minds.

Of course, when this get quoted in Germany, the perceived meaning shifts. But then again media in Germany has showed little willigness to understand the situation in Greece at all, so anything said in Greece is likely to be misunderstood by the general public in Germany after the German media has interpreted it.

What I am primarily concerned about in this discussion, is communication on this site. And here, I think it is important to notice that a lot of people (not at all limited to Germans) read nazis as a reference to the Holocaust and thus it becomes ineffective communication (or at least communication with a high probability of being ineffective) if you want to highlight something using, lets say Nazi sports policies.

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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:18:48 AM EST
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On this site it then should be a little easier to establish that many non-Germans find collective, exemplary punishment, such as killing all of the inhabitants of a village from which a few killed a German soldier or engaged in other hostile action, when used as a policy, to be almost as monstrous as the holocaust. And, in fact, these were subjects that were partly dealt with at Nuremberg, (and that precedent still haunts US actions.)  

Such collective punishments happened in Greece, in Belgium and elsewhere. This attitude is in spite of the fact that the countries from which they come have committed and continue to commit similar atrocities, even if the memory has been suppressed and/or the PR handled much better. The Nuremberg precedent and the UN Charter of Universal Human Rights are a high point when most of the world agreed to a higher standard of behavior. It is being eroded and that erosion needs to be opposed.

I would hate to hold up the USA as an example of proper behavior, given such incidents as the infamous helicopter press slaughter in Baghdad and the  slaughter of witnesses to atrocity in Iraq by US soldiers, but, at least, this is not official policy.  The regular troops get themselves involved in trying to execute plans in virtually impossible situations and take their frustrations out on civilians, but I  blame the leadership, right up to the President, more than the troops for such occurrences. I do not hold Germany to any higher standard than I hold my own government.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:34:28 PM EST
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