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Merkel, Nazis and the occupation of Greece: Der Spiegel sets Europe talking

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By Sarah Taylor  with Der Spiegel
Merkel, Nazis and the occupation of Greece: Der Spiegel sets Europe talking

<p>“Don’t mention the war!” John Cleese’s infamous character Basil Fawlty would have cried. But on Saturday (March 21), German weekly magazine Der Spiegel did just that… With bells on. </p> <p>It’s headline: ‘The German Superpower’, seems, at worst, a little arrogant. But it is the front cover which has set tongues wagging on both sides of the continent.</p> <h3>Merkel and the Nazis?</h3> <p>This week’s image sees Chancellor Angela Merkel juxtaposed onto a picture of a group of Nazis standing at the Parthenon during the German occupation of Greece in World War II.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en" align="center"><p>Maybe Germany's Spiegel wanted to show what a doctored Photo really looks like: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Merkel?src=hash">#Merkel</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Varoufakis?src=hash">#Varoufakis</a> <a href="http://t.co/1VbvPBcsnM">pic.twitter.com/1VbvPBcsnM</a></p>— Isabelle Daniel (@isabelledaniel) <a href="https://twitter.com/isabelledaniel/status/578975396059877376">March 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>This, according to the publication, is how Europe views Germany. </p> <p><a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/greek-study-provides-evidence-of-forced-loans-to-nazis-a-1024762.html">The subsequent article</a> does not liken Merkel to the Nazi forces of the Second World War. Rather, it attempts to show just how Germany is seen by the rest of Europe: as the unofficial ‘chief’ of the European Union.</p> <h3>From war reparations to the bailout package</h3> <p>The article goes on to explain the complex web of financial arrangements between Greece and Germany – one of the EU’s principal players – going back to the contentious issue of German war reparations.</p> <p>While details of Greece’s multi-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout package are common knowledge, Der Spiegel claims Berlin could also owe Athens its own lump sum.</p> <p>Following a new study by the Athenian Treasury, Berlin could face increased pressure to pay for loans the Nazis forced the Greek Central Bank to provide during the 1940s.</p> <p>In addition, recent, heated exchanges between the countries’ finance ministers have seen Greece demand around 11-billion euros in reparations. The sum would, according to Greek authorities, provide some compensation for a three-day, Nazi killing spree in the village of Distomo, in which over 200 Greek civilians were massacred.</p> <p>“To date, we have not even heard an apology,” Deputy Mayor of Distomo, Loukas Zisis told Der Spiegel.</p> <h3>#Varoufake</h3> <p>Bound <em>not</em> to help diplomatic relations is <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2015/03/19/varoufakis-in-media-storm-over-offensive-gesture-to-germany/">a recently-emerged video</a> appearing to show Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis holding up his middle finger as he gave a lecture in Croatia, prior to entering politics.</p> <p>During his speech, the economist said Greece should have defaulted in 2010, rather than accepting the EU/IMF-imposed austerity measures. Many Greeks, according to the Der Spiegel article, see Merkel as a ruthless leader, who will not allow Europe to back down on Greece’s request for financial aid.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="de" align="center"><p>Greece's finance minister was filmed giving the finger to Germany <a href="http://t.co/x7iK1v7HvU">http://t.co/x7iK1v7HvU</a> <a href="http://t.co/b7ZZqnps59">pic.twitter.com/b7ZZqnps59</a></p>— Business Insider UK (@BI_Europe) <a href="https://twitter.com/BI_Europe/status/577411267696193536">16. März 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Varoufakis claims the clip was doctored, leading to the creation of the hashtag #Varoufake.</p> <p>“The video was faked, without a doubt,” Varoufakis told the magazine.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="de" align="center"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/janboehm">@janboehm</a> Humour, satire & self deprecation are great solvents of blind nationalism. We politicians need you badly. <a href="https://t.co/CCXzHtfuKt">https://t.co/CCXzHtfuKt</a></p>— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) <a href="https://twitter.com/yanisvaroufakis/status/578367818586009600">19. März 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>German broadcaster <span class="caps">ARD</span> aired the video and said it has not seen any obvious “sign of manipulation”.</p> <p>However, recent reports seem to suggest otherwise.</p>