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More from Albrecht Ritschl:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the current crisis, Greece was initially pledged €110 billion from the euro-zone and the International Monetary Fund. Now a further rescue package of similar dimensions has become necessary. How big were Germany's previous defaults?

Ritschl: Measured in each case against the economic performance of the USA, the German debt default in the 1930s alone was as significant as the costs of the 2008 financial crisis. Compared to that default, today's Greek payment problems are actually insignificant.


Depending on how it is estimated the cost of the 2008 crisis ranges from $3-4 trillion to $20 trillion.

Discussing the Dilemma in Greece Ritsch notes: "It's above all a matter of finding the paymaster."

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The biggest paymaster would surely be Germany.

Ritschl: That's what it looks like, but we were also extremely reckless -- and our export industry has thrived on orders. The anti-Greek sentiment that is widespread in many German media outlets is highly dangerous. And we are sitting in a glass house: Germany's resurgence has only been possible through waiving extensive debt payments and stopping reparations to its World War II victims.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You're saying that Germany should back down?

Ritschl: In the 20th century, Germany started two world wars, the second of which was conducted as a war of annihilation and extermination, and subsequently its enemies waived its reparations payments completely or to a considerable extent. No one in Greece has forgotten that Germany owes its economic prosperity to the grace of other nations.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you mean by that?

Ritschl: The Greeks are very well aware of the antagonistic articles in the German media. If the mood in the country turns, old claims for reparations could be raised, from other European nations as well. And if Germany ever had to honor them, we would all be taken the cleaners. Compared with that, we can be grateful that Greece is being indulgently reorganized at our expense. If we follow public opinion here with its cheap propaganda and not wanting to pay, then eventually the old bills will be presented again.


Albrecht Ritschl is a forthright and courageous man. Were I he, I would think twice about visiting Germany in the near future. This seems certain to provoke a furor.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2011 at 11:33:57 PM EST

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