Apparently Germans are terribly upset that the Southern Europeans are portraying them as Nazis for the handling of the European crisis. And there have been floods of German posters on the British news sites accusing the Brits of being "racist" for not being able to let go of WW2.

So how long does it take for countries to get over their anger at historical events?

Well, if we look at the example of the USA, as late as 1914, the American public was hostile to the idea of helping Britain in WW1. Britain was the enemy they fought in the War of Independence from 1776 to 1783. The colonial Brits had the temerity to impose taxes on the Americans, make peace with Native Americans and had started proceedings to abolish slavery, all of which the Americans objected to. Even when WW2 started, the Americans held back, supplying arms to both sides, and only getting involved when they themselves were attacked in Pearl Harbour. And in the 1950's Eisenhower sided with the Egyptians against the Brits during the Suez crisis, as he thought the Brits were being "colonialist". It wasn't till the 1980's that a genuine warmth blossomed between Britain and the USA. So it took 200 years for the British perfidy on taxes and the rest to be forgiven.

Ireland has also nursed a grudge against Britain. In the 1840's 1 million Irish people died during the Famine because British governors ignored the crisis and refused to divert grain to Ireland as relief. In 1840's Britain, only aristocrats and property owners could vote, the famine took place before the Electoral reform act, so ordinary Brits at the time had no say in the decision to hurt the Irish, they were living in similar misery themselves. The mis-handling of the famine was down to a few aristocrats. But no matter - Irish fury towards the whole of Britain was so intense that one hundred years later during WW2, they refused to to help the allies. Indeed relations between the two countries didn't thaw till the Good Friday Agreement was brokered by Tony Blair in 1999. So it took Ireland 160 years to forgive Britain.

German atrocities in WW2 exceed anything in the examples above. If the Brits were punished for centuries for raising taxes and mis-managing famines, how do victims feel about the Germans, who caused a war that killed 200 million people, and practised unspeakable cruelty on minority groups like Jews, Gypsies and the disabled, targeting women and children as well as men?

It's only 70 years since WW2. The Germans are expecting too much if they think everyone should forgive and forget. You only get forgiven after about 160 to 200 years, and only if you haven't committed any further acts of aggression. The German handling of the eurozone crisis can be construed as a further act of aggression given the 25-30% unemployment rates in Spain and Greece. If the crisis hadn't happened, the world would have genuinely forgotten the Nazi stuff by about the end of this century. Given the fresh crisis which seems to be re-setting the clock, it might not happen till the end of the next century. In about 2180, a German might be able to wander around Europe without being referred to as a Nazi.

#WW2 #Germany