Wednesday, 22 June 2011


In the great Danish produced motion picture ZENTROPA, the audience is left with a sense that the crimes of Nazi Germany are like an endless river that will continue to run through the German psyche in the future without end. The 'Zentropa Syndrome', the profound sense of national (collective) guilt that Germans are carrying 70 years after the Nazi era and war against Europe has an impact on policy in so far as it places limitations that other countries like France do not have because they have no such syndrome.

The de-Nazification process that the Allies imposed on Germany (Stuttgart Declaration of 1945) has helped to reinforce the collective guilt. The hunt for Nazis hiding out in US and Latin America in the years following the war, the war reparations by government and corporations, and Germany's military dependence on the US/NATO alliance have also kept the 'Zentropa Syndrome' alive and the sense that collective guilt will not be erased any time soon.

Because of Zentropa Syndrome, Germany cannot have a policy that is straightforward and openly critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the same manner as Norway or Spain. Germany has to be cautious how it is perceived by the rest of the world. Germany cannot afford to do anything to cause harm to the European Union because the underlying implication is that its policies are another form of Nazi hegemony concealed under layers of 'bourgeois capitalist' institutions.

If Germany dares to deviate from what the US demands, namely EU speaking with one voice on monetary policy and bailouts of periphery debtor members like Greece, the entire world will blame Germany for harboring economic and political hegemony ambitions; of destabilizing Europe once again as it did when it invaded Poland. In short, no matter what happens in Greece's future, Germany will be blamed and forced to pay part of the cost for stabilization/recovery. Although it is a world capitalist system responsible for the public credit crisis, in the case of EU debtor nations, German collective guilt will be in the forefront.

Germany's policies are operating under constrictive conditions not only because of US and world pressure, but because the Germans are still swimming inside the turbulent collective guilty waters of Nazism; at least in their subconscious. Resentment is closely associated with externally-imposed constrictive conditions on Germany's potential as an economic and political power operating as an independent sovereign nation instead of an interdependent EU member.

German political conduct in the last sixty years has been fine-tuned to meet the conditions of its Western allies. Unlike defiant France, Germany has played the subservient role to the US and forced to act in concert with the rest of Europe on integration issues for the past six decades. The pre-WWI and pre-WWII German ambition of rising world power status could only be achieved within a larger union. German  publications reflect the sense of frustration that Germany's potential is hampered by the world - just as it was in 1914 when Germany demanded 'breathing space' because it felt encircled by France, Russia, and England.

What a tragedy it must be to be carrying the burden of the Zentropa Syndrome, of trying to kill the past but the very efforts to do so continue to keep it alive with each new policy measure that the government adopts. Clearly, it is absurd that there should be a legacy of collective guilt on today's Germany. As a sovereign nation, Germany today deserves the right to have its policies judged on their merits and not attach linkage to the Nazi past. The issue of unsettled war reparations is legitimate, but it is opportunistic for countries like Greece that need German bailout support to use the issue and reinforce 'Zentropa Syndrome' that has a great deal of political weight inside Germany and around the world. All things being equal, do the EU periphery countries deserve to have their sovereignty respected by the creditor nations that essentially own the economies in the periphery?

While many politicians and political analysts continue to believe that Germany needs to be contained because it has a history of going out of control with ambitions for hegemony, the world political, military and economic power structure is such that it would be very difficult for Germany to repeat the mistake of WWI and WWII. The reality is that Germany in the 21st century is more encircled and more dependent than it was in 1914. Thus, a move for unilateral hegemony would be unthinkable and impossible in its execution and especially in achieving its goal.

What can Germany do to rid itself of its guilty past, other than crack down on neo-Nazis and proclaim its support for Israel? Germany could abide collectively by EU treaties and obligations and join the EU in speaking with one voice as the US has strongly suggested. More importantly, Germany can look at the EU integration model not in the short-term for it looks very bad right now, but longer term in the same manner as Japan approaches economic planning.

Germany needs to reexamine its identity and determine if it wants to be integrated with the EU or if it best serves its society's needs to go at it alone, forging a new identity for itself separate and distinct from the EU. The only way to change the Zentropa past is by forging future constructive policies designed to make a lasting contribution to the world community instead of exploiting it.


Anonymous said...

Newly uncovered documents in the National Archives and the Library of Congress in the United States show that individuals, who circumvented the Constitution and subversively operated without principles during the years when the "mood" of the German people, according to General Warlimont, was to turn against Russia and invade Britain.

25 million people were killed due to Operation Barbarossa.

With that in mind, fascism, socialism, and communism is still the greatest thorn to a system where free will and liberty are rights; Where victory is not the smell of blood and burnt bones and for a price treason committed.

To this, there is no statute of limitations. "Fight now" General Warlimont had said, so we do not have to "call upon the young years later. . . ."

Anonymous said...

But does the nation--do the individuals in the United States collectively perpetuate shame based attributes because evidence exist that a subversive few committed a crime for a price?


The American character is traditionally not formed by consensus or group behavioral training. The individual is at liberty to dissent, to disagree, to smell the smoke floating overhead and investigate. To gather together and assemble in order to petition governing bodies, as well as to restrain those who circumvent the Constitution--in the United States even the president is not above the law.

On the other hand, collective and group consensus was and still is perpetuated in socialist, communist, and fascist systems.

Collective ideas on a national level that result in material resources will conclusively be collective in results when those material gains are through means of evil passions.