The German Predicament: Memory and Power in the New Europe

By Andrei S. Markovits; Simon Reich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The European Rim: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland

Challenged by memory, you could move forward. -- Elie Wiesel, From the Kingdom of Memory


Greece

One might have anticipated negative feelings toward Germany in a country that suffered brutal occupation by the Nazis, but in this event the Greek public overwhelmingly favored German unification. In polls carried out in the autumn of 1989, 83 percent answered that they were "personally in favor of the unification of the two German states," while only 3 percent were opposed and 14 percent offered no reply. The percentage of those in favor had slipped to 74 percent by the spring of 1990, and the numbers of those opposed had risen to 11 percent (no reply 15 percent), but these numbers indicate that the Greek public had no problem with the idea of German unification. 1

What impact would German unification have on Greece? Questioned in June 1991, 11 percent of those polled said that unification made them very hopeful about the future of Greece, 36 percent somewhat hopeful, 24 percent rather fearful, 6 percent very fearful, and 24 percent did not know. Again, those who believed that German unification would have a positive impact on the future of Greece, 47 percent in all, were a majority of those holding an opinion, although it was not as large a majority as had favored German unification one year earlier. 2

On the level of elite public opinion, in a country as highly politicized as Greece, it was not surprising to find clear-cut differences between the editorial positions of Leftist and Rightist publications on the German Question. However, the differences themselves were often counterintuitive. Publications close to PASOK, the left-wing party of former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, and the Eurocommunist KKEes ( Communist Party of Greece -- Internal), repeatedly ran positive articles about a resurgent Germany, to be welcomed as a longoverdue antidote to the American presence in Greece, the Mediterranean, and Europe. Anything that might lead to a departure of the much-hated American troops, whose government was perceived as leaning toward Turkey, met with the enthusiastic support of the Greek Left. The PASOK and Eurocommunist Left also rejoiced in the demise of the repressive GDR state.

If the center-left welcomed a united Germany as potentially liberating from

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