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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Reparations

Growing up in the shadow of the Second World War, WWI seemed impossibly distant, though it had only been over for less than 50 years. I was pretty well always aware that one of the major reasons the world descended into conflict again so soon was the level of reparations demanded by the winning side (that's us, folks, UK and US, not to mention France and the other frontline states). It plunged Germany into an even worse recession than was being suffered in the 1920s and 1930s by the rest of the world. German people might have enough money to paper their walls, but not to buy a loaf of bread.



It's one of the reasons they were so willing to listen to Hitler and his poison, and to blame the Jews for their ills.



I suppose I always assumed that all of that was behind us. After WWII, instead of demanding reparations, the Allies poured money into W. Germany to develop its industry, giving it into the huge success as an industrial nation it enjoyed during the post war years.



Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that, in the week during which the reunification of Germany is 20 years old, Germany will make its final payment of reparations for WWI.



Madness.

7 comments:

guiding light81 said...

I am German and I know what "we" did back then in WWI and bad beyond imagination in WWII is still changing the world's history now...See for me the heaviest load is actually BEING German. Okay, we are accepted in the financial world, in the industrial and trading market, but still there is a scent of hate in the air,when you come to certain places or dispute certain topics.
You can believe me that I personally suffer a lot from what this little bastard did though I wasn't even born then and my parents weren't also!
In a world so globally connected and (mostly) open-minded,Germans are not always welcomed...
Believe me we won't forget!We won't,but I wish my children or at least my grand-children will someday be able to live as they are and be what they are, and not be judged anymore by the land they were born in and its history!
Because actually that's all it is:
You get born in a country, and this way you are German, American, Englisch,Japanese,French,Iraqi or so,but it doesn't necessarily makes you a Nazi, a Riffle-loving Yankee,a sunburned drunkard,a pervert that gets worn panties at an automate,an arrogant asshole or a terrorist!
It doesn't mean you act,think like or agree with the meanest subjects of this land's society!

To all my friends all over the world and from all countries around the globe:Without you and your tolerance I would have never ever be able to live freely!Thank you for your input on my life

val said...

Well, let's face it, guiding light81, the rest of the world did its bit to make the rise of Hitler possible. You can't take absolutely everything away from people, and still expect them to behave well.

My grandparents were German, and though they had been in Britain for many years when WWI started, they had to have ID cards. My great uncle was interned and his young sons sent back to Germany through war-torn Europe with luggage labels round their necks. I still have cousins in Germany. But of course I can't imagine the feelings many Germans must have today. WWII is one thing we don't discuss - I only got to know them in recent years, so it's not easy to bring it up.

But still paying reparations after nearly 100 years? It's insane.

JoJo said...

When Brian was stationed in Weisbaden in 1978, he said no one ever, ever talked about WW2.

I'd like to think that, now that we have social networking sites, we have the opportunity to get to know people from other countries and it breaks down a lot of the stereotypes. It's awfully hard to demonize people when you get a glimpse into their lives and see that they are people just like you. I have a Facebook friend in Pakistan and looking at her photos really opened my eyes. She has a ton of friends, male and female, and they all interact, and none of them wear hijabs or any traditional Muslim clothing. The girls even wear shorts and sleeveless dresses, and both sexes hang out. That was a total surprise to me.

So many Americans think all Muslims are Taliban and fundamentalist, but seeing Tya's photos, I realize there are also very progressive ones as well.

jazzy said...

It's not fair to generalise a whole nation. And it isn't fair that our generation has to pay reparations.

val said...

You won't find me disagreeing with that, Jazzy.

You know almost as much about my German relations as I do!

jazzy said...

Yes I do, Val. And I appreciate that you want to try to imagine the feelings we have. If you're German the first thing you learn is that you are guilty (no matter what generation you are); they tell you at kindergarden, at school, on TV etc. It's difficult to live with that guilt.

JoJo, Many people lost their whole family in the war(s). I just assume they weren't ready to talk about it with a 'stranger'.

val said...

Jazzy, I knew I had a German name before I really realised the implications. So I used to tell kids at school, and I got a lot of nasty comments. Luckily they were too young to really understand, too. But even today kids will do a Nazi salute with their finger over their top lip to simulate Hitler's moustache at any mention of Germany. Some will saay, "I hate Germans" without ever knowing any. It's a bitter legacy.

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