Most Europeans find it hard to feel sorry for Germans who are depressed over the current economic gloom. After all, what constitutes hard times in post-war Germany would strike many as boom-time bonanza. Nevertheless, many, if not most, Germans will lament how suffering under the yoke of he economic convergence is the Beginning of the End or the End of Everything (according to wether you are talking to an optimist or a pessimist). They are quite unable to see belt-tightening today as an investment for prosperity tomorrow. As always, they are cursed with being able to penetrate deeper into the meaning of events thaan anyone else, and so are wreathed in Wagnerian apprehensions of the Götterdämmerung kind.
To the Germans money represents security. Fear of losing their beloved Mark prompted them to question the value of European unification. Obiously sacrifices woult have to be made, but preferably not on the financial front. Twice in the 20th century, after the First and the Second World Wars, Germany was hit by devaluation. Inflation reached astronomical proporations in the early 1920s. The majority lost all their savings. Even today, inflation is seen as the ultimate economic chaos, something to be restricted at all costs. The shock of it [Inflationen vor den Weltkriegen] still lingers in the german soul.
Banks therefore play an even bigger part in business life than elsewhere. A system of ‚universal‘ banking means that the banks own everything the government has not already got its hands on. In Frankfurt, the European Central Bank rules supreme, following the footsteps of the Bundesbank. The Deutschmark may be dead but the Euro is looked for a glorious German future, dominating everything in sight and running (not ruining, as some have maintained) the entire European economy.
Manchmal ist ein Blick von außen. Der Text ist so ziemlich die langweiligste und witzloseste Stelle meiner aktuellen Nachtlektüre: Xenophobe’s� guide to the Germans von Stefan Zeidenitz und Ben Barkow (zweite Auflage 2008). Ein unheimlich tolles und extrem unterhaltsames Buch!!!