By William Mills
Those who grew up in the aftermath of WWII were raised on adventure stories of the brave resistance fighters battling Nazi invaders in the wartime occupied countries.
What was not so well described was that the actual fighters were comparatively few in number and the rest just tried to get by.
During the First World War Germany was subjected to a naval blockage which resulted in widespread starvation breaking out amongst their home population. Twenty years later at the advent of WWII the Nazis were determined they would be the last to starve.
The countries they occupied were stripped economically and all food was either commandeered or paid for with worthless Reich marks. The occupied starved while their German masters kept the best for themselves.
In the years immediately after 1945, Germany split in two, was in no position to pay war reparations.
During the 1960’s the then West German government did make piecemeal financial payments to victims of Nazi crimes while also at the same time acting as paymaster to the emerging EU.
Of the Euro countries which have needed bailouts since the latest financial crisis began, Spain, Ireland and Portugal were all neutral in WWII and not occupied by the Nazis.
Greece at first glance appears to be unique. In 1941 they were invaded and the bulk of their population subjected to brutal treatment by the Germans. For Greece the 1980’s and 90’s must have seemed as the restoration years with German and Euro money pouring in an unending torrent.
Yet, all of a sudden it now turns out that these were cleverly crafted loans to entice Greeks to buy German exports on what appeared to be easy terms.
The Germans are now demanding payment and behaving like a pawnbroker insisting on goods to sell with the risk of starvation a real possibility again. To the Greeks it is 1941 all over again when their Government was taken over by the northern Europeans and their country bled dry.
However there is also Italy to consider. Although Fascist Mussolini joined the war on Germany’s side in June 1940, after their capitulation in July 1943 the Italians very much assume the victims’ mantle. Their country was fought over in a brutal campaign which lasted until the last days of the war in May 1945.
Italian troops based in Greece were taken prisoner by their former German allies and were subjected to a number of mass shooting massacres which in some eyes makes them victims in need of reparations.
Indeed if Greece is going to be a special wartime case why not Italy also?
But then there is also France’s point of view. Germany prematurely stopped paying war reparations for the First World War in 1936, never mind settling up for the damage caused during WWII.
And ultimately there are the Germans’ feelings to consider. When the allied cameramen reached Germany in May 1945 they largely failed to record the half of a million dead German civilians laid out in unending rows stretching down the roads. There were other horrors to photograph.
At the Nuremberg War Crimes trial in October 1946 Germany was charged that she started the war. Yet Goering spoke up and pointed out that Britain declared war on them. He argued that when Chamberlain spoke those immortal words on 3rd September 1939 ‘that no undertaking having been given..’ one actually had, so from his point of view Britain started it.
Britain’s prosecution team headed by Lord Shawcross demanded that Goering play no further part in the proceedings and remain silent. The British Foreign Office files relating to 1939 and the phoney war period were sealed for an unprecedented 100 years and remain so.
During WWII Britain bombed Europe, Stalin raped it, the Germans ate all the food and stole all the pictures along with many other frightful deeds.
In 1974 Britain joined the EU. Was this really a new trading block, or as only 29 years after the end of WWII, just an opportunity to settle up for last time?
By joining the EU Britain had opened a communal bank account with the major participants of WWII, and all of whom were feeling aggrieved.
Germany may have wanted Britain on board simply to help pay the war reparations.
Indeed, first to be handed over was all Britain fishing rights, whose waters held 80% of the EU’s fish stocks. Next the Common Agricultural Policy saw cash pouring out of Britain and into Europe, and in return we got massive food inflation.
With every concession the UK voter was fobbed off that it was for the greater good and we get things in return, although these benefits are somewhat hazy.
In reality in return for helping to pay, the Germans are staying quiet about WWII, and taking the blame whilst the British claim the limelight.
It is high time Britain distanced itself from the EU.