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Is Sarko Anti-German?

by DoDo Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 04:14:03 AM EST

One more reason for The Economist to like French right-wing Presidential candidate Sarkozy: he might finish off the Franco-German axis as the engine of the EU.

In a story I missed, Jérôme quoted Sarko going on patriotic overdrive, again excusing the colonial past, and including an implicit dig at Germany in it:

...France has never succumbed to the totalitarian temptation. She never exterminated another people. She did not invent the final solution. She did not commit any crime against humanity, nor genocide.

In a comment I also missed yesterday, again Jérôme linked to some delayed German reactions. I will quote/translate from these.

Both of those linked reactions are French-connected and in non-mainstream sources. I couldn't find any other reports in the rest of the German-language internet media.

The first is from the German pages of Taurin/Taurillion, the web-zine of Les Jeunes Européens, a France-centered EU-federalist international organisation, and has the same title as my diary. Its writers are (apparently) one Frenchman and one German woman.

Stellen wir uns vor, Angela Merkel hält eine Wahlkampfrede: " Im Endeffekt haben wir allen Grund dazu, stolz zu sein auf unser Land, seine Geschichte...Ich akzeptiere nicht, dass man von den Söhnen verlangt, dass sie für die Fehler ihrer Väter büßen müssen. Ich akzeptiere nicht, dass man immer die Vergangenheit mit den Vorurteilen der Gegenwart beurteilt..."Let's imagine that [current German chancellor] Angela Merkel holds a campaign speech: "In the end we have every reason to be proud of our country, its history... I don't accept that one demands from the sons to pay for the sins of the fathers. I don't accept that one always judges the past with the preconceptions of the present..."
Nein, wir können uns solch eine Wahlkampfrede in Deutschland nicht vorstellen, selbst wenn die Stimmen, die einen stärkeren Patriotismus fordern, lauter werden. In Frankreich hingegen sind solche Reden durchaus an der Tagesordnung. Nicht nur Nicolas Sarkozy, aus dessen Rede am 9. März 2007 in Caen [1] die obigen Sätze entwendet wurdenNo, we can't imagine such a campaign speech in Germany, even if the voices demanding a stronger patriotism are getting louder. But in France, such speeches are quite normal. Not only Nicolas Sarkozy, from whose speech on 9 March 2007 in Caen we stole the above words...
...Was an der Rede Sarkozys jedoch weitaus mehr schokiert, ist die Kombination aus überzogenem Nationalismus und der völligen Abwesenheit jeglichen Bezugs auf die Europäische Union oder andere bi- oder multilaterale Institutionen....but what shocks much more in Sarkozy's speech is the combination of overdrawn nationalism and total absence of any reference to the European Union or other bi- and multilateral institutions.
...er schürt darüber hinaus auch antideutsche Ressentiments: ,,Denn Frankreich ist nie der totalitären Versuchung erlegen. Es hat nie ein Volk ausgelöscht. Es hat nicht die Endlösung erfunden, es hat weder Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit noch Genozid begangen."...he also fuels anti-German attitudes: "France has never succumbed to the totalitarian temptation. She never exterminated another people. She did not invent the final solution. She did not commit any crime against humanity, nor genocide."
Wie könnte ein zukünftiger Präsident Sarkozy, der so explizit die Deutschen angreift, den deutsch-französischen Motor am Laufen halten? [...] Selbst in seinem Diskurs über die Europäische Union am 21. Februar in Straßburg [3] wurde Deutschland nur am Rande, in Bezug auf den zweiten Weltkrieg und die Verdienste de Gaulles für die Versöhnung der ehemaligen Feinde, erwähnt. Einzig Adenauer wird als bedeutende Persönlichkeit hervorgehoben.How could a future President Sarkozy, who attacks the Germans so explicitely, keep the Franco-German engine running? [...] Even in a discussion about the European Union on 21 February in Strasbourg, he mentioned Germany only marginally, in reference to de Gaulle's merits in working for the reconciliation of the former enemies. He mentioned only Adenauer as important personality.
...Müssen wir befürchten, dass Sarkozys Äußerungen im Hinblick auf Airbus nicht nur Wahlkampfgebrüll waren, sondern vielmehr einen Stimmungswechsel im deutsch-französischen Gefüge andeuten? ,,Wir sollten mit dieser französisch-deutschen Gleichheit aufhören" [4] - gilt dies etwas auch für andere Politikbereiche?...Should we not fear that Sarkozy's words about Airbus weren't only campaign blather, but rather signalise a change of mood in the German-French fabric? "We should stop with this French-German equality" -- is this a bit valid for other areas of politics?

The article continues with some more critical words on whether Sarko's words stand for continuing French problems with treating Germany as equal: some examples that seem to point to this direction, then the blame is placed on the manichean vision of French history schoolbooks in the last 60 years, then it ends on a positive note by referring to the new German-French schoolbook. I'm not sure if this part is more German opinion or EU-federalist French self-flagellation.

The second link was for an article in the net-tribune, based on an AFP wire. It is only about reactions in France, however, it references further Germany-related utterances by Sarko, and quotes one which is worse than the first:

Sarkozy stellt sich mit NS-Äußerungen ins AbseitsSarkozy puts himself on the sidelines with Nazi references
Paris - Frankreichs konservativer Präsidentschaftskandidat Nicolas Sarkozy ist mit Äußerungen zur deutschen NS-Vergangenheit in die Kritik geraten. Die in Wahlkampfveranstaltungen und einem Interview gemachten Aussagen zur Verantwortung für den Holocaust seien "empörend", erklärte die ehemalige sozialistische Europaministerin Elisabeth Guigou am Donnerstag in Paris. Sie seien "die Verneinung der französisch-deutschen Aussöhnung, die von allen Präsidenten der Fünften Republik in 50 Jahren aufgebaut wurde". Mit derartigen Attacken gegen Frankreichs wichtigsten europäischen Partner sei Sarkozy "nicht würdig, in das Amt des Präsidenten der französischen Republik aufzusteigen."Paris - France's conservative presidential candidate got criticism for pronouncements about the German Nazi past. The pronouncements about the responsibility for the Holocaust, made during campaign events and in interviews, are "outrageous", declared former Socialist Europe minister Elisabeth Guigou on Thursday in Paris. They are "the denial of the Franco-German Reconciliation, which was built up by all Presidents of the Fifth Republic over the past 50 years". With such attacks against France's most important European partner, Sarkozy is "not worthy to rise up to the position of the President of the French Republic."
Sarkozy hatte in der Zeitschrift "Philosophie Magazine" gesagt, ihm sei ein "Rätsel", wie das deutsche Volk "durch seine Stimmabgabe am Nazi-Wahnsinn teilnehmen" konnte. "Es gibt viele Nationen in der Welt, die soziale, Währungs- oder politische Krisen durchleben und die weder die Endlösung erfinden noch die Auslöschung einer Rasse bestimmen", sagte er. Guigou verwies auch auf eine Wahlkampfveranstaltung in Nizza, bei der Sarkozy Ende März betont hatte, Frankreich brauche "vor seiner Geschichte nicht zu erröten". Sein Land habe weder "einen Völkermord begangen" noch "die Endlösung erfunden". Der scheidende Staatschef Jacques Chirac räumte mehrfach Frankreichs Mitverantwortung für den Holocaust ein.Sarkozy said to the "Philosophie Magazine" that it is a "mystery" for him how the German people could "participate in the Nazi madness through casting its vote". "There are many nations in the world, which live through social, monetary and political crises, but which neither invented a final solution, nor decided the extermination of a race", he said. Guigou also referred to a campaign event in Nizza, on which Sarko emphasized end of March, that "France doesn't have to be ashamed of its history". His country has neither "committed genocide", nor "invented the final solution". Outgoing President Jacques Chirac repeatedly admitted France's shared responsibility for the Holocaust.

I'll try to check when and whether this story surfaces in the German MSM.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 07:58:45 AM EST
Thanks for the translations !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misčres
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I now see that in fact the Taurin/Taurillon article is also available in French.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 11:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems Sarkozy can say whatever stupid crap he wants, and no one's gonna call him on it. Royal said "bravitude"? Unqualified to be president! Sarkozy unaware of the religious affiliation of Al-Qaeda? Not a bloody word from anyone.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 08:28:30 AM EST
I'll translate the France-critical end of the first article, too. (Remaining parts I left out seak about Chirac's nationalism-but-Europeism for example.)

Oder schlimmer: Wenn Sarkozy die französische Meinung repräsentiert, kann man daraus ableiten, dass Frankreich deutschlandfeindlich ist? Hat Frankreich etwa, 60 Jahre nach dem Ende des zweiten Weltkriegs, noch immer Probleme mit der Gleichwertigkeit des deutschen Nachbarn?Or even worse: if Sarkozy represents the French opinion, could one deduce from this that France is anti-German? Could it be that France, 60 years after the end of WWII, still has problems with the equal value of its neighbour?
Einige Fakten scheinen diese Hypothese zu erhärten. Der späte Anschluss Straßburgs an den TGV, die ihn als letzte große französische Stadt bekam, zeigt er nicht vielleicht auch die Angst, an den Feind von gestern, dessen Hauptstadt sich viel offener gegenüber Europa zeigt als die jacobinische, zu eng angebunden zu sein? Und was ist mit dem 8. Mai [5] , der französischen Feier, falls es denn eine ist, bei der man nicht das Ende der europäischen Barbarei feiert, sondern vielmehr den Sieg des ,,letzten Krieges" (wobei der Algerienkrieg niemals existiert hat) wobei das Frankreich von 1945 die siegreiche Nation und Deutschland die verlierende ist?Some facts seem to strengthen this hypothesis. The late TGV connection for Straßbourg, which got its connection as last big French city, could it perhabs also show the fear, to be connected too closely to the enemy of yesterday, whose capital is much more open to Europe as the Jacobine? And what's up with 8 May, the French celebration if it is one, during which one doesn't celebrate the end of European barbarism, but rather the victory of the "last war" (where the Algerian War never existed) where the France of 1945 is the victor and Germany the loser?

Honestly, I don't know what to make of this.

  • On the TGV: Mulhouse, Limoges, Clairmont-Ferrand, Metz, Nancy are big French cities too, while a lot of others (above all Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nice) have TGV access via slow conventional lines, with high-speed lines promised but even more delayed than for Strasbourg. Meanwhile, it is more the German railways that braked cross-border connections. I'm not sure if the German or the French co-author of the article could have been more ill-informed on this subject.
  • I have no clue where the capital's comparison comes. In Germany, Paris is usually not associated with Jacobinism but with an easygoing to hedonistic lifestyle, regarding openness to Europe, maybe the locals' willingness to speak foreign languages is the only negative view, and it is standard to bemoan local conditions (say Berlin's lack of a big airport would be mentioned, and compared to Paris having two). So this is maybe French self-flagellation. But a worse interpretation is: the view of neoliberals.
  • I don't know how France celebrates 8 May, can anyone in France comment?

Die Rede Nicolas Sarkozys ist in diesem Sinne recht symptomatisch für eine manichäische Sichtweise, die seit sechs Jahrzehnten im französischen Unterricht gepflegt wird.Nicolas Sarkozy's speech is in this sense rather symptomatic for a manichean point of view which is maintained in the French education for six decades.
Glücklicherweise dürften die Gedankenlosigkeiten des Herrn Sarkozy nicht ausreichen, um die deutsch-französischen Initiativen zu erschüttern, die, wie das deutsch-französische Geschichtsbuch, für unsere Schüler mit ein bißchen mehr Objektivität die wenig glorreiche Vergangenheit dies und jenseits des Rheins nachzeichnen. Dies sind wichtige Schritte für ein gemeinsames Voranschreiten anstelle von verfälschenden oder nachtragenden Reden, die Europa nicht mehr nötig hat.Fortunately, the thoughtlessnesses of Mr. Sarkozy can't suffice to shake the Franco-German initiatives, which, like the German-French history book, show our students the less glorious past on this and the other side of the Rhine with a bit more objectivity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:35:15 AM EST
Their was a lot of outraged commentary in Alsace at the fact that the high speed portion of the line to Strasbourg stops pretty much at what used to be the Franco-Prussian border between 1870 and 1918 - i.e. at the beginning of Alsace-Moselle. Budgetary reasons were given, but the symbolism was pretty nasty.

Otherwise, I think you're spot on in that railway nationalism is still alive on both sides...(remember that article in the Spiegel I linked to about the recent TGV speed record, full of sour grapes).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I missed that linking, could you link to that SPIEGEL article again?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:11:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. Now my comments:
  1. I'm not sure what you meant by railway nationalism. If you meant "my country's railway is better", that's not what I wrote about. If you meant technology protectionism, that's what I wrote about, countering the Taurin/Taurillion article's claims about the TGV Est delay -- but that's a historical note, the thing is changing just now.
  2. In the SPIEGEL article, several things are mixed up, it's not simply sour grapes (and aint' calling 'sour grapes' railway nationalism in the first sense? ;-)). First of all, the mediocre journalists who wrote this managed to base part of the article on asking just a rival of Alstom, Siemens. So we get plain company PR channeled.
  3. To extend the above: Alstom is active in Germany too, in fact, before Siemens made that Spanish train, Siemens was only part builder of the German high-speed ICE trains, with Alstom's local branch also having its part alongside Bombardier (and that Spanish train got delayed because Altom & Bombardier didn't want to sell the copyright for their designs).
  4. The Siemens guy was talking PR bullshit about junked electrical parts. He was either clueless about the technical modifications and the length of the test run programme, or devious. There was a grain of truth in it, however, that leads to a contrary point:
  5. I strongly suspect the parts about energy guzzling and senseless research programme also originate with the Siemens guy. What is true is that (a) since wind resistance rises with the square of speed, going 450km/h+ with current train aerodynamics is really wasteful (much closer to airplane energy use), (b) for normal approval purposes, service top speed +10% is enough, researching running dynamics at 400km/h+ (as proclaimed loudly in Alstom PR) makes no practical sense. However, the tests make practical sense as a wear-and-tear test, with the train exposed to 3-4 times greater loads, and possibly fully developed instabilities that would be barely visible on lower-speed test runs.
  6. It is true that building high-speed lines in Germany is more difficult, hence not only takes longer but costs much more. This is not spin nor sour grapes.
  7. It is true that for regular traffic, Siemens's Velaro-E, what's more the already running ICE-3 is faster than current French products. And not only in top speed (350 and 330 km/h vs. 320 km/h), but acceleration. But a futher possible Siemens spin and/or cluelessness is omitting to mention that technologies also tested in the record-breaking TGV will lead to a next generation TGV with equivalent top speed and potentially higher acceleration.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 02:00:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the line and Alsace, when was this outraged commentary? In the last few months, or back during the planning phase a decade ago?

I only know that the budgetary reasons are, eh, justified:

  1. the section built brings most of the time improvements (1.5 hours, the rest, now slated for 2014 at the latest, will only cut another half-hour),
  2. the second section costs more per kilometre, due to the crossing of mountains,
  3. the current end-point is where the old line from Metz branches to Strasbourg and Saarbrücken/Germany (and on to Frankfurt), where you need a junction anyway, a logical choice.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when the decision was finally taken to build it. I know there are reasonable arguments, but as I said, the symbolism did not go well in Alsace, where signs that they are considered as "completely French" (real or imagined) are never taken well - because there has been a history of disparaging comments about the Alsatians' loyalty in the rest of France, when the Alsatians have always shown their loyalty and fought for it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 10:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when the Alsatians have always shown their loyalty and fought for it.

Heh. Much more complicated than that. The Alsatians were one of those communities with a very strong and distinct regional identity that didn't really fit in well into a greater national one. They were more likely to want to be French than German, but they also wanted to preserve there specific culture, and thus in the interwar period tended to be quite resentful of the strongly assimilationist French state and voted for pro-autonomy parties. And in any case, both during German era and in the interwar period there was a significant straightforward pro-German minority.

by MarekNYC on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 04:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but they still don't like being called traitors or "pro-German", as did happen.

The most famous (relatively) recent example I know was after the Maastricht referendum in 1991, where Strasbourg voted 75% for (vs 51% nationally). TF1 had interviewed a guy in Marseilles and the guy stated that it was not suprising because Alsatians were Germans (or not really French, I don't remember exactly) anyway. The scandal came about because TF1 did not broadcast that bit of the interview, but it came out anyway, creating a messy debate about France's 'uneasy' view of Alsace and the censorship of hte topic...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:17:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what's up with 8 May, the French celebration if it is one, during which one doesn't celebrate the end of European barbarism, but rather the victory of the "last war" (where the Algerian War never existed) where the France of 1945 is the victor and Germany the loser?

Difficult to be more inaccurate. This is pure anti-French BS.

The 8th of May is the celebration of the end of Nazism in Europe. I have never ever heard anyone, saying France "won" WWII. Quite the opposite actually, it's an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong in the late 30s and early 40s.

You will not hear anti-German talk in France the way you could in the 50s, while you will commonly hear anti-US or sometimes anti-UK rhetoric. The French may be envious, there may be locally hard feelings about EADS or other joint ventures, but that will be it.

France is globally rather proud to stand so close to Germany.

And this Sarkozy is a dangerous man indeed. Your diary is useful, Dodo.

by balbuz on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 04:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If France turns away from the Franco-German axis in the EU, that will radically reduce France's power. Who is Sarkozy planning to turn to? The UK, which is always looking to reduce French influence in everything? Italy, which rarely has a stable governing majority? The US? I think that France will find itself quite rapidly isolated.

So it would be a policy that will harm the national interest while bringing no concrete benefit other than perhaps satisfying Sarkozy's personal conceit. But, looking at the diary of Migeru, it's not certain that his 'team' can break that to him.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 01:55:30 PM EST
It's obvious that Sarkozy will be anti-German if need be for his own sake in this election, whatever the consequences. In this respect he acts exactly as Le Pen or any leader of the extreme right would. His current concern is not whatsoever the relation between France and Germany in the near future but his lifelong goal on 22 April and 6 May. There will be plenty of time afterward to swear this was all made up against him and he never meant to harm the German people. He will eventually declare on a German TV channel : 'Ich bin ein Berliner!' and that will be it. Beware of this man, he is dangerous for France, for Germany, for Europe and possibly for the world. We'd better not let him beat around the (G.W.) Bush !
by Brice Sylvestre on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:30:39 PM EST

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