History Is A Theatre
I read an article that made me angry. It read ‘Germany owes Greece 279 Billion Euros for the war’. This article made me angry because it involves Germany in a morality scandal-a scandal that Germany has negated their moral duty to Greece to repay costs and damages incurred in Greece during WWII, this is a period of time from which the current Chancellorship of Germany may possibly be unable to be any further separated. What Greece is asking for is the current government of Italy to stabilise the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Obama to apologise for the Wall Street Crash and this generation to make amends for the Sugarbabes.
Despite deliberately emotive and antagonising, the actions of Greece do raise an interesting point when it comes to our connection with the past. As we know, the current economic situation in Greece is about as tense as the end of a Sherlock Holmes episode, with Greece increasingly becoming that kid in the EU playground asking ‘can I come?’ a thousand times a minute. For the Greek government so close to its inauguration, to define its term by reviving Nazi history and, furthermore attempting to profit from it, is a very telling sign about the use of history here.
Returning to the reason this article made me angry. Greece needs the money. It needs the money to be seen as a credible investment and reliable trade partner for the rest of the EU and it thus hopes to stabilise its economy. It is quite clear that Greece hopes to obtain funds from this historically charged issue which, although represents every second of airtime on the channel ‘Yesterday’, actually occurred over 60 years ago. Moreover this is an issue that is no longer an issue! Germany paid 110 million Reichsmarks to Greece in 1960, and although a fraction of what the Greeks demanded, they accepted there would be no more claims after this. I would have said that the Greeks are poorly attentive to their history, but they appear to have gone to great efforts to contort this additional figure from the rubble of a good portion of a century ago.
History is being used as theatre, and this opens the stage door for the pursuit of history as a bargaining tool, the manipulation of history and the stifling of history. The way in which history will be studied will be changed from a broad appreciation for what we can learn and rationalise from the past to a vindictive and critical approach aimed at exploiting political dynamite and moral splinters. It invites a generation of political leaders to blatantly lie about history to serve an agenda, and sorry Greece, no economic condition justifies actions tantamount to international deceit. This makes about as much as sense as the country which invented mathematics, bankrupting itself.