Germany and Virtue 

Keith Miles (foto: Veronika Savnik)

Germany has tried very hard to put its very dark past behind itself. It has been largely successful and is to be congratulated for that.


However there are a number of actions in the recent past and in the ongoing present which give cause for concern.

It has always been difficult to know what are the deep beliefs of Angel Merkel but it seems that over-riding everything is that Germany comes first especially when it comes to exports and money. This is perfectly reasonable on one level but not when viewed by countries that have been and still are affected by this approach. It is not reasonable when the oft stated word solidarity is quoted in connection with the European Union. I might add that the word solidarity was often used by communist regimes to stifle any sort of dissent or criticism, and therefore I am suspicious of its use not least by trades unions and the EU.


The examples that are obvious, and perhaps there are more than we realise, are as follows:


  1. The virtue signalling by Frau Merkel when she invited a million migrants to Germany, without regard for the consequences to the states through which the migrants travelled, nor providing any means of safe travel, and then trying to pass them off to other states when the numbers were considered too much for Germany.
  2. Closing borders to keep the migrant stream out of Germany
  3. The failure to take full responsibility for the Euro crisis which had a lot to do with Germany entering at an over favourable exchange rate for the Deutschmark with huge benefits for German exports; and rescue plans that had, some of us think, more to do with saving German banks than helping Greece, Italy and others.
  4. Failure to properly contribute to European defence with full contributions to NATO. Low contributions over a number of years leave the alliance severely weakened.
  5. The cynical development of the Nordstream2 pipeline which will leave Poland and The Ukraine at the mercy of blackmail by Putin ‘turning off the tap’. Incidentally the price for gas by Russia to Poland is excessive compared to that for Germany that cannot be justified by market size.
  6. The failure by Germany and most of the EU to speak up strongly about the assault by China on Hong Kong’s freedoms. It seems this action is to protect exports, 
  7. The scandal of emissions testing to gain motor export market advantages. The consumers may be in the process of being compensated but what about the lost market share of other countries motor manufacturers
  8. Very little real action over the poisoning of the Russian opposition politician Navalny. The Russians learned from the so called Minsk plan for the Ukraine that nothing would really be done. Perhaps also to protect German exports to Russia. Only really affected by sanctions were agricultural exports which hurt mostly other countries than Germany.
  9. Blocking exports of Personal Protective equipment to neighbouring countries during the coronavirus crisis. The worst example being the stopping by German customs of a lorry load of masks to Switzerland which had already been contracted.
  10. The Wirecard corporate criminality scandal, and the unsavoury attacks on the Financial Times journalist who exposed the huge problems in the now insolvent company.


If Germany wishes to be be seen as virtuous it still has a long way to go. It should be, with the EU, helping countries such as Poland and Hungary and others clean up the continuing old system networks that work behind the scenes instead of criticising them when they try to do it themselves, The most obvious examples are the courts systems, Germany after all has two experiences in this area from the clean up after the Nazis and the clean up after the communist system in East Germany.

Another example where German could help is supporting the full and proper restitution of Jewish owned property in former communist countries. The problems of ownership recognition should not rest solely on unobtainable documentation but on morality.