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How the Hitlerisation of British history teaching may be saving British Independence

Last week I linked from White Rose to this piece by Jemima Lewis in the Telegraph, because it contained some stuff of White Rose relevance about using technology to enable parents to keep track of their kids.

But, as commenter Mark Ellott pointed out there, this Telegraph piece also contained some interesting reflections on the teaching of history, provoked by the increasing annoyance being expressed by Germans about Britain’s continuing obsession with the history of Nazism to the exclusion of any other sort of history.

Our Education Minister, the big-eared Mr Clarke, has been using his big ears to listen to his German opposite number Edelgard Buhlman, tell him that:

… our fixation with Hitler is leaving British teenagers with a distorted view of German history, and a violent prejudice against the Teutonic race.

A lot of the problem, says Lewis, is that children don’t learn history dates any more. I think she’s probably right. When I was about eight or nine I had a vast set of history dates dinned into me – with my enthusiastic cooperation I should add – and I’ve been fascinated by history, all history, any I could lay my hands on that was fun and made any sense, ever since. My only regret is that the list I imbibed wasn’t bigger and more global in its scope. I should guess that much the same applies to many of the regular readers of this blog. How can you understand history without getting a handle on the basic stuff that it happens in, namely time?

Yet this boringly chronological approach to history teaching was, Ms. Lewis tells us, abandoned in the 1970s for a more pick-and-mix, bring-it-alive and never-mind-when-exactly-it-happened approach to history, and the only bit that kids now want to pick is The Nazis.

This is not a matter of opinion, but of fact. An Ofsted report earlier this year confirmed that British pupils spend more time learning about the Nazis than any other period of history. Meanwhile, one survey after another suggests that our broader historical knowledge is dying out. The statistics are hair-raising. More than half of Britons are unaware that America used to be a British colony; 55 per cent believe that Elizabeth I introduced curry to this country; 17 per cent of teenagers cannot even guess in which century the First World War took place.

Never mind the Tudors and the Stuarts and the Industrial Revolution and the Suffragettes, what we want is Hitler!

Now that they can – and do – choose to spend almost every lesson poring over the evil deeds of history’s most infamous homicidal maniac, the evidence suggests that they love it. As one teacher bemoaned last week: “If you try to avoid him, the pupils say: ‘I was only doing history to study the Nazis.’ ” But a diet of unleavened Hitler is no good for anyone. We need to see the broader sweep of things.

But for me there is a huge irony here. For ask yourself this: why is Mr Clarke so anxious to de-Nazify the teaching of history in Britain? And why are German politicians making such a fuss about this issue? I’m sure that part of the answer is that they just are, and that as time goes by, the thing just gets more and more embarrassing and uncouth.

But I think that the EU is involved here. If a generation of Brits has now grown up thinking that “Europe equals Hitler”, that could be the popular opinion half of a British pincer movement against British EU provincehood, the other half being British elite hesitations. For as long as the “bloody Huns” view of history was confined to the old geezers who had actually fought against the Huns, then that sentiment could simply be left to die out with the old warriors. But now, it turns out, this sentiment is not dying out. The kids hate the Huns too! Indeed, that’s the only thing about the past that they’re sure of.

We are told again and again that British public opinion is now unchangeably against British becoming a province of the new EUropean nation that they are busily forging on the continent, to the point where this public opinion might not merely vote against the EU constitution if granted the opportunity, but actually vote for such an opportunity in the meantime. Where did this opinion come from? Might the “Hitlerisation” of British history teaching not be one of the big the culprits?

Ms. Lewis says that “a diet of unleavened Hitler is no good for anyone”. But if you are the type, as I am, who believes that Britain should shake itself free from EUro-provincehood, might you not reckon that the collapse of that more nuanced and informed and less melodramatic presentation of History – of History with lots of history dates and with that “broad sweep”, as Ms. Lewis terms it – turn out to have been … rather a good thing?

How huge an irony would that be? The very people who have worked hardest to beat British national pride out of Britain, namely the teaching profession and the theorisers of teaching who have been guiding them, have ended up with a kind of History that says only one thing: Germany bollocks!! Don’t want nothing to do with them bastards!!! As a result these anti-historical history persons, mostly rabidly pro-EU on anti-British grounds, could be achieving what looked impossible as recently as only a decade ago, namely the saving of Britain from permanent EUro-subjugation.

Lefty bastard enemies of British History, we hail you, the savours of British national independence.

Or, as Instapundit would say: Heh.

75 comments to How the Hitlerisation of British history teaching may be saving British Independence

  • toolkien

    Unfortunately that still leaves the imbalance between demonizing Hitler and giving a pass to the other totalitarians of the 20th century. Also not providing the historical sweep simply embeds the notion even further that Hitler was an anomaly or perhaps an evil entity springing from some unknown realm. He was a product earthly forces of course, but the prepackaging of Hitler as evil incarnate suffices in minimizing the notion that he ‘sprang from our own’. Though I think most people ultimately realize he was a product of commonly known forces people still need the comfort that he was an aberration and it can’t happen again. This is of course nonsense it most surely will if people do not demand reduced government roles in everyday life. Is it any coincidence that one of the first modern welfare states was commandeered for the purposes of a few zealots with a willing, malleable mass? Failing to put Hitler within the proper context leaves the student without proper perspective and leaves the left’s endless works toward Statism and control unmarked and uncondemned.

  • Lorenzo

    A very long post just to have a chuckle at an irony.

  • Zack Mollusc

    If mr hitler is, as many theorise, in suspended animation somewhere in south america, then perhaps the evil nazi scheme is to wait it out a few more decades then demand payment for use of nazi images and trademarks such as the swastica.
    The royalties would allow adolf to BUY a large expanse of europe as a fourth reich.

  • All this said, I really do wish that the British could get over their anti-German fixation. It isn’t an attractive thing about the country, and even if it does make further integration into the EU less likely, I tend to think that in the longer term ill will come of it.

    I think I am saying that ignorance is a bad thing, essentially. On the other hand, I am not sure that the British are actually becoming more ignorance about history. If you get away from schools and instead see (for instance) what books are successful, I seem to be seeing a lot of this or this or this. And there are a lot of accompanying or stand along television programs about similar things. The interesting question in British history above all others is surely how Britons founded modern science and engineering, and build the first modern industrialised economy, and interest in this seems to me to be far higher than it was a decade ago. (Actually, there is a long post in this. I must write it some time).

  • Fascination with Hitler and the Nazis is not restricted to the young. Publishers estimate that a swastika on the cover of a book increases its sales by a third, irrespective of its actual content.

  • David Hall

    I usually take stories about the “dumbing down” of our education system with a pinch of salt – and the statistics that accompany these stories with, um, more of a pinch of salt.

    I don’t think I can name one person who wouldn’t know the correct answer to the questions given as “evidence”. I suspect the surveys were taken maybe somewhere else to where I’m from 😉

    As for the Hitler issue; I really couldn’t say. I know that we only covered him for a term ourselves, six years ago when I was at school.

  • Brian,

    Love the irony. Satisfying on all counts. I am wondering, though, if there is a bit more to the German Minister’s complaints than meets the eye. Although Hun sensitivity over Nazism has been around since Basil Fawlty’s day, there are some signs that our kin across the North Sea are emerging from their crippling sense of national shame. The chemicals industry has just attempted to draw a firm line under its liability with the offer of a once and for all time payment, something impossible to imagine without governmental agreement. There has been a recent and surprisingly un-PC public comment from some high-placed person (can’t remember the name, alas) on the vexed issue of the six million. This sparked immediate suggestions from certain, unspeakably evil revisionists in America that the number of Jews that perished might be established by Berlin at a level more in keeping with wartime demographic knowledge.

    This is a ship that moves slowly. But once it has left the quay it is unlikely to turn back.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    The History Channel here in the states is also disproportionately fixated on WWII/Nazis/German war machines. But that’s OK; it’s interesting stuff. I recently watched 3 1-hour programs on SS factions–not just the SS itself–and the differences of these factions and interviews with surviving members. Fascinating shit, baby.

    People are interested in WWII because it was a crazy time filled with total monsters (Hitler, Stalin, etc.). WWI was just a deathpit, without fully automatic weapons, fighter planes, bombers, etc.

  • LB

    “55 per cent believe that Elizabeth I introduced curry to this country”

    So who did introduce curry to Britain?

  • I don’t get the fuss. When I left school in 1978, the Syllabus A History curriculum for scots ‘O’ Grades never went near WW II or Hitler or Nazis.

    History stopped at WW I.

    The alternative syllabus B History was the same, except students spent a lot of time role-playing mediaeval farmers.

  • Mark Holland

    I’ve wondered whether the recent World War One serieses (The First World War In Colour on Five and the programme simply called ‘something Mark Holland forgot to put in – ed‘ on Channel 4 of a Saturday evening) are a reaction to the 2nd World War overload.

    I’ll bet you that you cannot flick up through the various Discovery channels, History channel and UK History without some WWII documentary being on at any time of the day or night. I always exclaim “is the war over yet?” in the style of a confused Japanese soldier marooned on a Pacific Island without a radio. I’m fed up with it. Come on, show us something new.

  • I find World War 1 actually far more interesting than most seem to think of it. It has been overshadowed by WW2, and its easier to empathise with WW2 as a Good vs Evil war.

    But WW1 is interesting history, to be sure.

  • Verity

    LB – I think it was returning retiring people who’d served in the colonial administration. They brought back a taste for spicy food.

  • The mix’n’match approach has been confusing inattentive students over here for just as long. I clearly recollect being approached by a neighbor, an 18-year old junior enlisted troop who asked me one day “Umm… you’ve got all those books- can you tell me; was the Reformation before or after the Revolution, and when do the ancient Romans and the Civil War fit into it?”
    When I picked my lower jaw up off the floor, I said
    “Sweetie, you spent all your history classes flirting with cute boys, didn’t you?” and drew her an extended time-line, with dates and commentary.
    I had a hard time believing that someone could go through high school, completely unscathed by any sort of learning.

  • Dan McWiggins

    “Lefty bastard enemies of British History”–you have a way with words, sir. Carry on!

  • Brian,

    so you think it’s perfectly alright that German tourists and exchange-students are frequently called Nazis and and spat on?

    Meanwhile I won’t visit Britain if I don’t absolutely have to, so far I could avoid it (a small loss on both sides to be sure).

    Oh and Guessedworker: Shove it. You only show your complete ignorance. No crippling sense of national shame here, for example.

  • fnyser

    Your luck if you get any history in high school in America. All has been lumped into “social studies” or “world studies” that you take in middle school and it is crap. Simple geography has gone by the wayside as well.

  • Abby

    British schoolchildren have good reason to study and be proud of their country’s splendid performance in that war.

  • Brian Micklethwait


    No of course I don’t think it’s “perfectly alright” for Germans in London to get spat on, and you know perfectly well that I don’t.

    BUT: neither do I think it perfectly alright, or alright in any way, that my entire country could soon be swallowed up in the bureaucratic monstrosity that is the EU.

    AND: if I have to choose between a world in which Germans sometimes get spat on if they visit London and Britain doesn’t get swallowed up by the EU, and one in which Germans never get spat on in London but Britain does get swallowed by the EU, I prefer the spitting. Bad luck on Germans, and there’ll be no spitting from me I can assure you, but there you go, that’s the irony of history for you.

    By the way, one of my biggest reasons for disliking the EU so intensely is that in my opinion it does a lot to make all the “spitting” (of all kinds, between all the various countries) worse than it would otherwise be, and potentially, in the future, far, far worse (down to and including a possible Europe-wide civil war). I know that this wasn’t the original idea, but that’s all part of why I think it was such a bad idea.

    After all, if it wasn’t for the EU and Britain’s potential engulfment by it, I would have absolutely nothing good to say about this spitting. Think about that.

  • Brian,

    I was being sarcatsic, sorry, and I didn’t mean it personally. Actually I have no problem with Britain leaving the EU since Britons seem to want it.

  • I still won’t come visit, though, for obvious reasons.

  • Steady on, Ralf. I would say your words prove my point. Germans are walking in a new dawn. But the uncalled for violence of your reaction commends another conclusion, I’m afraid. That would be very sad, if true.

  • Guessedworker,

    you basically accused us of preparing for the Fourth Reich. And “shove it” isn’t violent, just unfriendly.

  • James

    Returning for a moment to where we came in, I recall that at my primary school in the 1970s in the UK, we were all under the impression that WW2 was still in progress, largely owing to the influence of war comics and the like. One very English friend of mine was silly enough to admit to having been born in Germany and we ostracised him as a spy.
    As for spitting on Germans – I regard it in the same light as I would regard spitting on ANYONE: unBritish behaviour. If I had my way, Ralf, these people would fill Oliver Letwin’s faraway island long before he got the chance to put any asylum seekers there. Don’t miss what’s good about the UK for the sake of those scumbags.

  • Verity

    Ralf Goergens – Thanks for having no problem with Britain leaving the EU because we’re going whether you personally have a problem with it or not. I think you over reacted to Guessedworker’s posts.

    The fact is, other than the hundreds of thousands in Brussels, Strasbourg and all the capital cities in the EU who have several layers of special departments and think tanks and people writing press releases and “mission statements” and doing translations of Swedish into Czechoslovakian, with their trotters and snouts in the golden trough (every one of them with a taxpayer paid pension), no one in Europe wants the EU. The countries of Europe would be rubbing along just fine without it.

    Democracies don’t declare war on each other. We can get rid of the hundreds of thousands of special interest parasites and each country can govern itself by the body of law its own people have developed over a thousand years or so. We won’t force English Common Law on France (although it certainly could use it) and they don’t get to impose their Napoleonic Code on us.

    Not then. Not now.

  • Mark Holland

    Thanks for the correction ‘ed’. I was a little too excited about my funky graphic that my html went for a Burton.

  • Tony H

    But Abby, I think Brian was highlighting the curious degree of concentration on WW2, not denigrating attempts to teach it.
    I can second the reports about British curricular obsession with WW2, as an ex-teacher in FE: my subject was English, but classroom discussions with 16-19 year olds over quite a long period consistently revealed (a) that most of them appeared never to have studied much history at all, (b) the invariable dominance of WW2 in the studies of those that had, (c) their universal experience of studying the poems of (grits teeth, utters calming mantra..) Wilfred Owen to “learn about” WW1, and (d) that all events between the death of John Lennon and the Paleolithic seemed to them pretty well contiguous and not readily distinguishable.
    In other words most knew virtually nothing of history. And in contrast to Mr Craw’s experience, for those that did, it started at WW1.
    As for Herr Goergens’ post, since I’m married to a “Hun” (Gastarbeiter’s term) I have to say that none of my German in-laws and friends has ever reported any such hostility; despite the continuing British obsession with WW2 – understandable if you consider that it was a peak experience for my parents’ generation, indeed a terminal one for very many – I’d say the Brits get on better with Germans than they do with, say, the French…
    Hey, Alfred E Neumann, what’s this curious idea you have about WW1 having no fully automatic weapons, fighters, or bombers – ? Both my grandfathers returned from that conflict punctured by bullets from German machine guns, both sides developed very good fighters, both sides bombed each other’s capital city at long range.

  • e

    Germans being spat on, – never happens, it’s just another of those urban myth things. Frenchmen – maybe, but then the Germans spit on them also, if not in fact, then metaphorically.

  • ernest young

    When you have close to one hundred years of ‘brainwashing’, by being told how evil the Germans are, and have been, (in order to encourage us to go to war against them), it is not unreasonable to expect some of this feeling to remain instilled in the culture, and for us, (the good guys), to regard them, (the bad guys), as the enemy.

    The fascination of the younger generation with WWl and II, could be because we all have relatives who were around at that time, and therefore we can talk to them about those times, without history being distorted too much by politically correct ‘historians’. Interesting how, as the eye witnesses to those events get less, year by year, so we get more re-writes of history by academia.

    The major wars of the twentieth century were mostly ‘close to home’, and everyone, including ‘the Home Front’, played a part. Small wonder that those times are still of interest. Just what do the Germans of today expect, we stopped them invading us twice, (with some help!), now they want us to forgive and forget, and surrender meekly to invasion by diktat.

    The young folk do have a reason to wonder what it was all about, and good luck to them in wishing to find out more about those barbaric times, it might give them some insight as to how us older generation feel about the whole EU scam, and as to the huge sacrifice that three generations made to keep the freedoms we all used to enjoy, and which are now being destroyed.

    The booming media of that time of books, newspapers and especially radio, while not forgetting comics, all had a part to play in encouraging attitudes and instilling nationalistic likes and dislikes. Of course, the loud mouthed, arrogant German tourist did little to mitigate any lingering ill-feeling between us, and neither did the English drunken, football lout.

    The same is probably equally true for current feelings towards Japan.

  • Zathras

    I also think the British fixation on World War II is a mistake, and think British students ought to spend time finding out what a rotten guy the Kaiser was. Also Napoleon. And Philip of Spain.

  • Doug Collins

    I’m afraid adolescent ignorance of history has been around for a long time. Part of it is due to inattention:

    1.) On the first day of a ‘government’ class in 1964, our teacher gave a quiz on some basic facts. He wrote down a prediction about the results that he revealed after it was over. He predicted that at least one student would miss the question “Who is the current President of the US” – this after the huge amount of media coverage the year before on the Kennedy assassination. He was correct – one student still thought Eisenhower was in office!

    2.) One of the most popular classes at the University of Michigan in the late 1960’s was Dr. Reichenbach’s (I don’t remember his first name unfortunately) History of WW1 and History of WW2 classes. He was an incredibly good lecturer. Once when I was chatting with him (He remembered most of his students even years later), he told me that he began his class in the Navy ROTC department during WW2. It seems the Navy found that a significant number of their newly fledged midshipmen didn’t have any idea of who Hitler and the Nazis were or why we were fighting them! This after Pearl Harbor. His class, and, I assume, others in the NROTC curricula were an improvised solution by the military to the civilian educational system’s shortcomings.

    Part of it is also due the the abovementioned shortcomings of the educational system:

    In the 1980’s my son was a university freshman, having got there by virtue of a National Merit Scholarship and a nearly all “A” scholastic record. I mention this not to brag, but to establish that he was one of the better examples of the educational system’s efforts. During a vacation, the name Genghis Khan came up. I was somewhat flummoxed when he asked me if that had anything to do with Khan, the villain in a Star Trek movie that had come out about that time. Apparently, in spite of top grades in his history classes and what appeared to be a reasonable grasp of history, much had been left out.

    I suspect that the interest in the Nazis is a result of a human fascination with evil and horror. If it leads to filling in some of the gaps in their education, it may be a good thing. It would be nice if the broadcasts would also show some of the evil of the Soviet era. After all, the frozen corpse hills are probably still there at Vorkuta and the other labor camps. Perhaps some tasteless producer could uncover and film them – like filming the Titanic. It would show that evil can exist even without snappy tailored uniforms. All you really need is an unquestioned bureaucracy.

  • Ellie

    When I was teaching history in the 1990’s to American students aged 12-17, WWII was far & away the most popular unit. (The US Civil War came in a distant second.) I’m not at all convinced that WWII should be de-emphasized in the US – after all, the war & its aftermath had a huge effect on the US, and, in many ways, continues to effect us today.

  • Cydonia


    “A very long post just to have a chuckle at an irony”

    Why so rude? I thought it was well written and funny.

  • Mail

    >no one in Europe wants the EU

    That is, quite honestly, pure, unadulterated rubbish.. Take a look at the various refferendums throughout the new member-countries to enlighten yourself.

    >Thanks for having no problem with Britain leaving >the EU because we’re going whether you >personally have a problem with it or not.

    That’s good to know. Not that I dislike Brittons, but I simply cannot –for the life of me– understand the point of sticking to an organisation you despise..

    It’s obvious to me that most Brittons would rather have nothing to do with European Union, and I believe the relations between EU member-states and the UK could conceivably improve upon Britain’s withdrawal from the Union. So why IS Britain participating? Didn’t the UK have 3 or 4 consecutive “eurosceptic” leaderships? Does majority rule count only for jack and shit in Britain’s “non-beauraucratic democracy”?

    If De Gaul was right on one account, it must have been his veto against Great Britain’s participation in the EEC, and his belief that a UK participation would be a constant source of problems.. And one really *has* to admire the leisurely tone with which the British public and leaderships change their opinions with regards to the European Union itself, as well as what is wrong with it. Right after the WW2, Clement Attlee’s Labour government would not participate out of suspicion against the European “capitalist club”, then in the 70s when British leadership changed their tune they would not be let to enter by De Gaul’s France, and later on when they were finally allowed in by Pompidou, they could not stop spewing garbage about “European Nazis” or “antiamerican alliances”..

    What on earth?

    If Brittons can’t stop conjuring fictitious connections between EU and communism, or EU and Hitler, or EU and the alien invasion forces of Megalon, perhaps now would be a good time to pack up and get the heck out of what they basically perceive to be the personification of all that is evil in this continent.

    Brittons have got this insane idea that Europeans are hellbent to “assimilate and enslave them” into the European Union, when nothing could be further than the truth. Perhaps that is the hogwash that British leadership feeds to a gullible public to account for their unwillingness (?) to leave the EU, but in any case, it’s still hogwash. And it has more place in an anticapitalist, isolationist, and antiglobalisationist frame of thought, than it does with supporters of open societies, capitalism and free markets.

  • Mail

    And before you reply with some ludicrous claim or other about the “leftist”, or “socialist”, or “antiamerican” European Union..

    ..is THAT the reason Americans can’t stop pestering EU to admit Turkey as a member state? They must be banking into the traditional sympathy towards American ideals and policies that comes with socialist thought and ideology.

    Oh, wait..

  • Guy Herbert

    Mail writes Brittons have got this insane idea that Europeans are hellbent to “assimilate and enslave them” into the European Union, when nothing could be further than the truth.

    While I don’t think ALL Britons think this, I agree some do, and that nothing could be further from the truth. A good proportion of Europeans (including Britons) are hellbent to assimilate and enslave themselves in the EU because they genuinely think it is a good thing. They think those of us who don’t want to do this are crazily defying our own best interests. And they have to think that, because if we are not mad or mistaken, they are.

  • Verity

    Guy Herbert – You are correct. I think the Britons in a hurry to cast off their British identify and assimilate like mad are people who were taught in school that Britain was an evil oppressor of countries which had an interesting line in ethnic fabrics and neat food. We exploited them by giving them a legal system, roads, railways, a civil service structure by which they could govern themselves, and the priceless gift, in terms of international dealings, of the English language. These are the people who were taught by socialist teachers and professors that it is shameful to be British and who therefore feel grateful that we are being allowed into the club of morally superior Europeans. (For some reason, Germany and its recent history gets a pass in this context.)

    Tony H – I agree with you that Brits, on the whole, get on better with Germans that French. Our outlook is closer to the Teutons than the Franks.

    Finally, no one has mentioned so far, but I think part of the fascination WWII holds for the young comes from the Nazis having had the best cars and the best uniforms. (As P J O’Rourke said somewhere, no one, in the history of the human race, has ever fantasized about being thrown down on a bed and ravaged by someone dressed as a liberal.)

  • Guy Herbert

    Vertity: “For some reason, Germany and its recent history gets a pass in this context.”

    Sad to say, pretty easy to explain. For at least 40 years the majority historians and sociologists have willfully misinterpreted the history of Nazism and fascism. Rather than seeing them as distinct phenomena, and examining how they really worked, the predominant left-liberal view has tried to fit a vision heavily influenced by the Nazis’ own propaganda into a (consciously or unconsciously) Marxian model of historical process. They’ve seen Nazism and fascism as the same thing, and both as a consequence of unsocialised capitalism.

    So an iffy version of Nazi history gets a free pass, because it shows how terrible things get if you don’t follow the social-democratic recipe.

    What’s taught in schools is inevitably heavily influenced by what teachers learned to think was important at university. When I was in my early teens, schools got the bug of teaching about the industrial revolution, and threw out political history. I’m inclined to suspect that this is down to the popularity of EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class and similar Marxian narratives as staple undergraduate material in the early 70s.

  • fnyser

    Ahhhhhhh, if you preview the post it kills the target=””

  • Sturm

    Mail wrote: “And before you reply with some ludicrous claim or other about the “leftist”, or “socialist”, or “antiamerican” European Union…is THAT the reason Americans can’t stop pestering EU to admit Turkey as a member state?”

    Obviously the EU is preferable to fundamentalist Islam in spite of its leftism, socialism and anti-Americanism, not because of it.

  • Mail

    Would that also explain America’s delight with the EU entrance of the currently staunchly pro-free market, pro-US, Eastern European countries?

    Were they in danger of falling to Islamic fundamentalism, too? Or is there another ludicrous excuse you’d like to proffer to give your theory a veneer of consistence?

  • Ralf Goergens


    thanks, maybe one day.


    nobody is keeping Britain in the EU but the British political establishment. I suggest that you discuss your grievances with them.

    ernest young,

    this is not about “forgive and forget”. A lot of Britons show hostility towards to Germans for what their ancestors did. As long as they can’t get over this collectivist viewpoint and give up on living in up on living in the past there’s just no way toget along.

    Germany also isn’t forcing any diktats on you, that’s your own government using the EU as a pretext to force regulations down your throats. And British hostility towards the EU is a feature and not a bug as far as they are concerned; They have their way with you and others take the fall.

    A good example is the grocer who was fined for using pounds and ounzes instead of kilograms and grams; that was the British aiuthorities going after him, not the EU or for that matter Germany.

  • Mail

    And, for completeness sake, let me inform you that
    Turkey is *most definitely* a secular state, and in fact has been one for more than 75 years..

    Not exactly human rights respecting, nor fully democratic, but very secular nonetheless.

    So your “we’re out to save them from Islamic fundamentalism” theory does not hold much water at all, if you consider the fact they face no such threat to begin with. And since you’re so concerned with their well being, you might as well admit them into NAFTA (as their foreign minister suggested), instead of telling the EU what to do with them. Hell, admit them into the United States for all we care ; just don’t have the audacity of accusing EU as an enemy superstate, introjecting into the British that EU will be their ultimate doom, and then _telling us_ (!!!) to admit your Turkish friends into our “unaccountable dictatorship”!

  • Mail

    Good points, Ralph.

    I guess the antipathy towards EU has much in common with the antipathy towards the WTO (or any other multinational organisation), in this respect. They’re both dependent on a gullible public, and irresponsible politicians who’ll cheerfully seize any opportunity to misplace the blame for taking unpopular decisions..

    It was not us! The WTO made us do it!!!

  • Ralf,

    Your example of the “metric martyrs” is an example of why the EU is a bad thing in its very structure, and why it will tend to exacerbate tensions. So far as I know you are correct to say that the British bureaucrats who pushed this oppressive prosecution did so using the EU as an excuse.

    And that’s the point. The EU is a responsibility-shifting magic wand for local officials. Due to its remote and overarching nature, officials can do worse things than they would if the authority they answered to was nearer – and likely to be thrown out of office for being unpopular.

    Yet just as responsibility is shifted upwards by the officials, hostility is shifted outwards by the populace. In a better system anger could be vented by throwing the direct bosses of those officials out at the next election, or by denouncing named individuals in the press, or by other means of local power. All that is difficult enough for a large nation state such as Britain (a general problem with all statism, not just the EU) and quite impossible for the EU. So you get a sort of general climate of rankling and resentment.

    The point is that this will always happen so long as the EU exists. I bet there are similar examples in Germany.

    A point I haven’t covered is why those British officials wanted so badly to suppress pounds and ounces. The answer to that question raises other reasons why the EU is dangerous to freedom, but this comment is long enough already.

  • Verity

    Ralf Goergens – Thank you very much for your suggestion that I take my grievances – if objecting to one’s country being silently subsumed into the giant maw of a faceless, unaccountable, undemocratic superstate can be termed a ‘grievance’ – to the British political establishment. This piece of advice makes the extraordinary assumption that I have not already done so.

    On the other hand, I agree with your comment regarding the greengrocer who was victimised for selling his produce in pounds and ounces. Yes, it wasn’t the Europeans, but members of the vast army of petty, homegrown Captain Mainwarings who went after him with such verve. Britain seems to specialise in these little dictators and I don’t know why. I’ve never encountered them in such plenitude in any other country. The hunger for the power to say ‘no’ would be comical were it not for the misery it causes.

  • Verity

    Natalie, thanks for such a lucid analysis. I can’t be the only one who hopes you’ll come back and give your thinking on why those British officials were so dead set on suppressing the use of pounds and ounces. You don’t seem to think it’s mere officiousness.

  • ernest young

    this is not about “forgive and forget”. A lot of Britons show hostility towards to Germans for what their ancestors did. As long as they can’t get over this collectivist viewpoint and give up on living in up on living in the past there’s just no way toget along.

    What you describe is exactly ‘forgive and forget’. I sometimes wonder if you actually read what you have written, if you did, then perhaps you wouldn’t make such contradictory statements.

    The point I was trying to make – in my ususal humble way – is that the events of those times are still in our collective memories, they are not things that happened to some remote and long dead ancestors, they happened to people who are still very much alive today, not so many from WWl, but a lot from WWll.

    The crux of the matter is that it is not for Germany to tell us that we should have ‘closure’ now, just when it suits their convenience, they cannot claim ‘forgiveness’ as a right, until we are ready to give it. An old fashioned and quaint idea, maybe, but while some 20% of the population still have memories of close relatives who were sacrificed at that time, then perhaps all we should ask is that you humour us a little before shafting us with a proposed constitution that leaves us in the UK, worse off than before. ( A diktat, if ever I saw one).

    The idea of a united Europe is wonderful, but excuse us for not being quite so gullible with regard to the ‘leaders’ who are vying to be in control of the new entity. Their collective aversion to having any form of accountability, is a sure signal that they are ‘up-to-no-good’. We dont trust our home grown politicians, why should we trust yours?. (Kinnock and Patten, Chirac and Shroeder, and many others, all under heavy suspicion of fraud).

  • Guy Herbert


    There are few more deadly motives than “mere” officiousness. Personal enmity and prejudice have nothing on it for relentless, spiteful destruction of those who dare resist. A human opponent may accept a truce or a deal. Only total submission will satisfy a bureaucratic system.

  • fnyser

    Your salt licorice is too salty, your crab apples are too small, and your cucumbers are too curved – you may not export them.

    there are plenty of things to dislike about the EU

  • Ralf Goergens


    I didn’t mean to patronise you and I apologise for (involuntarily) doing so anyway.

    What I meant was simply that blaming the other EU countries for your country being a member isn’t very productive since it isn’t them who keep it inside, it’s your politicians. Some people might think that doing so or for that matter demonising Germany might help to mobiliseThat way you’ll stay in
    people to join the movement to leave, but I’m pretty sure that it only will lead to a lot of unstructured resentment that can’t be focused to help achieve your goals.

    ernest young,

    I’m not talking about forgive and forget and certainly not closure. Nobody tells you to forget your past, I just think that it’s not right to collectively blame people for what they didn’t personally do. I think you’ll agree that remembering one’s past and blaming contemporaries for it are two different things.
    The Germans who were born after the war have done nothing that requires forgiveness anyway (at least not to a greater extent than people in other countries).

    As to the contitution: Nobody is holding a gun to Tony Blair’s head and forces him to sign it. He’s doing it voluntarily, so why blame us?


    I’m afraid that there’ll always be some pretext to shift responsibility. There is the WTO or globalisation, for example. Germana governments usually blame those two, so they are for angry Germans what the EU is for angry Britons, although the EU also doesn’t exactly win popularity contests hre either.

    Brian, one last point, I think a ciil war wouldn’t be due to the EU but raher to the efforts to foster mutual hostility among peoples,

  • Chris K


    you seem to believe that the EU generates political scapegoating and that this would be extraordinarily reduced once the EU has been dismantled. I think this is wrong, even naive. Scapegoating has existed since the very creation of responsibility. You greatly overestimate the EU’s power in believing it is responsible for most political scapegoating in Britain and Europe. Once the EU is gone, politicians will just shift the blame to globalization, the WTO, the UN, the nefarious influence of despicable foreign powers (i.e. Germany, France, Luxembourg or Albania), the Jews or whatever they can point their fingers to. Or why do you think for example that the Bush administration is increasingly blaming China for the “jobless” part of the jobless recovery?

  • Chris K


    the gist of your argument is that – although being unrelated issues – whipping up xenophobia (anti-German sentiment) is a convenient though ugly (spitting) tool to fight the EU.

    You do not seem to realize that here a line has been crossed. When will you start to advocate hating the French, Belgian, Spaniards, Greeks, Poles, etc. to fight the EU? What could possibly wrong with racism if it mobilizes the public against illegal immigration? Why not encourage self justice and lynching to fight criminals – from shop lifters to child molesters? Just a friendly advice: think about the end, the means and how the former justifies the latter – or not.

    By the way, with that argument of yours you also concede the impotence of rational argumentation against the EU. A telling admission if you ask me.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    This seems strangely familiar…

    As an English kid, growing up in Glasgow, I was utterly disgusted by the way in which history was taught there (early 80s). The main fixation of the history was to describe in great detail how evil the English were – starting with the Highland clearances and going on from there.

    Spat on, sworn at, attacked – solely for being English. Been there, done that. Learned the value of the judicious application of violence in defence as a result, but that is not really the point.

    I’m not suggesting that the history lessons were the root cause, but they certainly help reinforce the racist attitudes that are still prevalent in Scotland – and that is one of the major reasons for the joke that the Scots (and the Welsh) have been sold – “devolution”.

    Of course, in today’s litgious society, I should probably go back and sue the school…

  • Verity

    Ralf Goergens – I was probably too quick to take offence.

    I agree with your point about the fostering of mutual hostility, if you’re referring to Britain. This government has cultivated the politics of separateness and special privileges for favoured groups. If this is not reversed, the people who are being milked to pay for the special privileges will turn on those who are receiving them. I would hope. But maybe not. This being Britain, and the British being supine …

    But as to fostering hostility on a Europewide basis, I don’t see it. I live in France and the French I know seem to rather like the Spanish, are fairly indifferent to the Germans and are fascinated by the British. Apart from sports reports, the only foreign news that’s ever on French TV is about England.

    Skewed slightly off topic, but how amusing that Gerhardt Schroeder had to leave the “constitution” conference – or whatever other beanfest it was – and left Jacques Chirac to negotiate on Germany’s behalf. I mean, a hoot or what?

  • Hello everybody.

    Came here via a link from papascott. This is a subject that periodically resurfaces for one reason or another. Last year, it was Thomas Matussek, German Ambassador to the UK who brought up the subject (and who, later, supervised the kick-off meeting for a German PR campaign in Britain). As a German who had the privilege to study and work in London I once wrote a rather long piece explaining my personal issues with the British Nazi obsession referred to in this discussion. Originally published in my blog almost a diary early last January.

    Kraut-bashing. Some personal context.

    Kraut-bashing is *so* passé. That is at least what the British comedian Frank Skinner tried to tell his countrymen when he publicized his support for the German team before last year’s World Cup final. His arguments have been summarised and endorsed by the BBC but as the article tells us, there was not just enthusiastic support for his stance. The Sun subsequently called Skinner “Franz” and digi-dressed him wearing lederhosen – they had gone Brazil nuts!

    No one should have been surprised by this display of journalistic creativity. Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids as well as all other specimen of British quality publishing like to spice up dull English headlines with some Tscherman words from time to time. And it is certainly true that a vicious circle of linguistic militarism is fueled by them as well as by those English fans whose choice of words demonstrates that football can be so much more than just a game whenever a match between the old Germanic rivals looms on the playground. Their strange confusion of war and sports is very visible on the famous 1918-1945-1966-T-shirts.

    But I suppose to some, T-Shirts and Blitzkrieg-laden headlines are only side effects, as Der Spiegel’s recent suspicion (link in German) that Germans have become “prisoners of history”, at least in Britain, shows. The magazine’s attention had been sparked by an article, published in the Guardian earlier last December, in which the new German ambassador to the United Kingdom, Thomas Matussek, lashed out against the country’s history curriculum – “I want to see a more modern history curriculum in schools. I was very much surprised when I learned that at A-level one of the three most chosen subjects was the Nazis.” – alleging that it contributed to an anti-German sentiment responsible not only for hunny headlines but also for physical and psychological violence committed against Germans in the United Kingdom.

    “You see in the press headlines like ‘We want to beat you Fritz’. It ceases to be funny the moment when little kids get beaten up…”. The ambassador’s remarks point to an incident in October last year, when two German schoolbays on an exchange programme were assaulted by a gang of British youth in Morden, south London. According to the Guardian, they were heckled as Nazis before one had his glasses broken and the other was shoved into a bush.

    I am terribly sorry for the pupils’ experience. And I think it is entirely appropriate for a German ambassador to demand a more prominent place for the post ’45 “model Germany” in British textbooks. But I don’t believe that those studying the Nazi dictatorship for their A-level exams will become notorious Kraut-bashers – quite to the contrary.

    In Britain – as everywhere else – physical violence against Germans for ascriptive reasons is de facto nonexistent and most instances of verbal Kraut-bashing are likely not of malevolent intent. They are simply an element of the usually acclaimed British humour Germans often have a hard time to find funny.

    There are plenty of stories like the one a young German Navy officer told me last week. When he went to the UK on NATO business recently, he was greeted with a joyful “Heil Hitler” by his British comrades. However, the British soldiers lifting their right arms in all likelihood did not intend to imply he was actually a Nazi or even seriously insult him. In their eyes, it probably was a joke honouring the tradition of John Cleese’s famous “Don’t mention the war”-episode of Fawlty Towers.

    Although the young officer was not amused about the incident, I would like to point out that, yes, even for a Kraut, Kraut-bashing sometimes can be fun. I know I may be generalising a bit here, but people have always made fun about alleged ascriptive characteristics of other people. But only very few are serious about them. Being able to tell the difference is what is important – for both parties involved. Quite a few usually well meaning people in the UK do not seem to understand that there are different kinds and styles of Kraut-bashing. And believe me, I know what I am talking about: I have been Kraut-bashed by Brits, too.

    We all know that there are inappropriate derogatory terms for people of all ethnicities and nationalities in all languages. And we all know that the same derogatory words can have a very different, sometimes positive, meaning in a different context. It’s exactly the same with Kraut bashing. My British flatmates in Paris were allowed to Kraut-bash me. Just as I kept joking about the British “cuisine”, the Empire they lost and how their German would be much better now if the US had not saved their country’s ass twice. The way we talk to a person only depends on the kind of relationship and our mutual respect. What may be in order for a friend is likely entirely inappropriate for a stranger. And I know how much being told you are what you want to be least does hurt, especially if you’re not expecting it.

    My stranger’s name was Julia. She was the friend of a friend of one of my flatmates and in Paris for a night in Summer 1998. So we all met in a bar somewhere in the Marais (for those who know Paris). I have to say that her first attack was as much a surprise for me as it was for my British friends. I think you get a useful idea of Julia when I tell you that the only thing she wanted (or was able?) to talk about were her freshly pedicured toenails. But being the gentleman that I am I complimented her, just as expected. But her reply was as unexpected as inappropriate – she told me that she wasn’t interested in my bloody Nazi opinion anyway.

    You probably remember – the first time does hurt. And it did. I was stunned. I did not know what to say. No one had ever silenced me by telling me I were a Nazi. And she was serious about it. Not knowing how to deal with the situation, I made the fatal mistake of actually trying to explain to her that I was no Nazi, which clearly provided sufficient incentive for her to keep bashing me until she was eventually silenced by my friends.

    However much it hurt that day, I now think of the episode as a valuable experience. It helped me realise the difference between those who joke about beating “Fritz” [ or decapitate the Kaiser, for instance 😉 ] and those who actually do beat him. It also taught me how to deal with the very few Julias around.

    And there are only very few Julias around. Thus, in my opinion, those trying construct a theory of German victimhood around incidents like the the teenage clash mentioned above or negligeable individual experiences like mine are creating an urban myth rather than a useful representation of reality. In a letter to the publisher, a German exchange student in North England told the magazine last week that she had spent a year in Britain and never experienced anything like the alleged British anti-German sentiment. She felt “stabbed in the heart” by the article, she said.

    When I lived in London, I never experienced anything even slightly reminiscent of the Julia-episode. I walked past the “Bomber Harris” memorial almost every day and never cared about it until a British friend told me how embarassed he was when the Queen (of German descent…) unveiled a memorial for a person responsible for WW2 area bombing German cities in the early 1990s. Another interesting encounter I had with respect to the anti-German sentiment in Britain was one with an older lady, who had clearly survived at least one, if not two world wars, and who explained to me that, yes, the British fought the Germans in two world wars but, after all, they’re decent people, as opposed to those frog-eating French. German tourists are still scared by the myth not to speak German in London Buses to avoid trouble, there are literally tens of thousands of Germans working in the City everyday. When you enter any of the fifty Starbucks outlets between Fleet Street and Monument tube station, chances are, you will hear almost as many German conversations as English ones.

    The BBC is certainly right to admit that ”British hostility to Germany simply isn’t reciprocated … [and i]t could be that by using outdated stereotypes … the British are saying more about themselves than anyone else.” but, in my experience, less and less people are seriously thinking in those stereotypes. Kraut-bashing may not be *so* passé yet, but it is definitely passé.

    Last November, the American writer, Pulitzer price laureate, and Princeton University literature professor C.K. Williams made a very interesting argument in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit (link in German) about how Germans have become a group no longer defined by what they actually are or what they actually do – but what they stand for. In his opinion, the eyes of the world see Germans, more than anything else, as a symbol of evil – they have become Ze Tschermans.

    While my personal experience is largely different, Mr Williams is probably right to some extent – some Tschermans are still out there, on celluloid, in the history books and, most importantly, in the memories of those who suffered unspeakable horrors under the Nazi dictatorship. As long as we define ourselves as German, we have to accept the historic context which we have been handed – just like everybody else. While history does by no means excuse ascriptive prejudices, it can help explain their existence. Time may be a healer, but big wounds heal slowly.

    Sometimes it is up to us to explain where we feel things are no longer funny. The young German officer clearly told his British comrades that he did not enjoy their joke. All people but the very few Julias around will not cross that line again.

    And Sometimes we should just relax. Julia taught me to no longer care if some stupid person believes I am a Tscherman. Why should I? I know I am not. And those I care about do know that, too.

    What else could be important?

  • I am more than ashamed by Germany’s 12 years of Nazi rule and constantly trying to understand why this dark period of Germany’s history happened and how it affects todays views.

    As Tobias said, there are anti-German bashers out there, as I’ve had my fair share of experiences. And the Julias are few and haven’t discouraged continued dialog. I try to listen and explain that Germany is far more complex than that: it has the highest immigration quota in Europe, legalization of single-sex marriage, de-criminalization of marijuana, berlin’s bustling multi-cultural creative scene, turkish-germans, alternative energy,…it’s still cold in the winter though 😉

    I think a lot of the anti-sentiments seem to find their way in the British press, as the exchange student example from North England showed.

    Sadly enough, much of America’s, Britain’s, Spain’s or France’s dark history is never bashed upon to the same extent. One aspect that rings a bell is SLAVERY. But, the winners write the history books. Over 3 million slaves died on the journey to the New World alone.

    There was an idea to establish reparations for victims of slavery, but it seems too late now. Although an educational fund for Americans of African decent has been an idea. I don’t know where this stands now.

    It might also be interesting to know if anti-German bashers have ever been to Germany or have personal relationships with ‘se Tschermans.

    I agree, teenagers in the UK should be aware of Nazism in an attempt to understand Germany’s history. To place these views upon the EU as an institution is more a fear of sovereignty loss.

    About the EU. It is far from perfect. The constitution is far too complex and fails to appeal to Europe as a whole, which is a daunting task in any manner. But, the EU and its founding fathers had a vision, to rid Europe of war and bring together the shared values Europeans hold dearly.

    For those Britons, Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians who are sceptical of the Euro or Brussel’s bureaucracy have a valid point. If they can find compromises and influence the future of the EU, no one is hindering them. They need to find a better voice and affect change that will help them, the others, and the EU, just like in any relationship: You, the Other, and both together. Dialog can only help if both are willing to listen – usually the hardest part in any relationship.

    And if those countries would rather watch from the sidelines, it’s their choice too.

  • James

    >But, the winners write the history books. Over 3 >million slaves died on the journey to the New >World alone.

    And how many died in the second World War, which took place while our fathers and grandfathers were still alive? It’s one thing to claim post-war Germany has nothing in common with Nazist mentality or policy, and a completely different one to complain about “winner-written history” being unfair to WW2 Germans! Please!

    This (unlike Tobias’s and Ralf’s replies) is exactly the sort of comment to be met with derision and indignation, when coming from a German. I’m sorry, but the fact of the matter is, you’re hardly at a position to condemn America based on the slavery that existed there 150 years ago. For one, thousands of Americans shed their blood for its abolition during their civil war, and second, I’m quite sure no contemporary American’s father participated on a governmental campaign to exterminate people on the sole basis of their race or origin.

    >There was an idea to establish reparations for >victims of slavery, but it seems too late now. >Although an educational fund for Americans of >African decent has been an idea. I don’t know >where this stands now.

    As I said, I believe such concerns cross a line, really. Please consider, as a matter of example, that Germany stripped occupied Greece of _all_ the country’s wealth while withdrawing from it. It was forcibly taken in the form of a “loan”, which the German state has never repayed. German chancellors used to claim it was a matter to be resolved after the reunification of Germany, but the matter is still pending, and has in fact become a chronic strain on the diplomatic relations between Greece and Germany.

    I would submit that you should better concern yourself with German reparations to the countries that your state has ravaged only a few decades ago, rather than trying to equate Germany’s dark past with the histories of France or America.

    Because the fact of the matter is, very few nations in the world have commited atrocities on the level of second World War Germany, and Americans or French are certainly not amongst them. And it has nothing to do with quaint revisionism about winner-written history wronging the Germans, or anything remotely that foolish.

  • James

    By the way, this is not to suggest in ANY WAY that I am accusing you as a “WW2 Germany apologist”, because I am certainly not!

    I’m just reacting to your notion that Americans, French and Britons have comitted crimes to the extent of Nazist Germany, but have been spared the historical reproach simply on account of having been in the Allied side on WWII..

  • Jonathan L

    About the EU. It is far from perfect. The constitution is far too complex and fails to appeal to Europe as a whole, which is a daunting task in any manner. But, the EU and its founding fathers had a vision, to rid Europe of war and bring together the shared values Europeans hold dearly.

    Golly lets all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

    All totalitarians have grand and glorious plans and all socialists think that bad outcomes can be legislated against. The fact that history has proven these naive ideas wrong time and time again is ignored. But for socialists, good intent is all that matters, great leaps forward matter more than starving millions.

    If anyone truly thinks that we need a federal state to stop war should take a look at the former Yugoslavia. As for shared values, in Britain we have Adam Smith & J.S. Mill whilst in France they have Colbert & Rousseau. Not a lot of common ground.

  • haveIsteppedintotheNationalFrontsForum?

    Good grief!!

    All turkeys have two legs.
    Clint Eastwood has two legs.
    Ergo, Clint Eastwood is a turkey.

    USA is a federal state too, and I don’t see all that many decrying them as “socialist”..

    But, I forgot : anyone with a plan or vision of any kind is totalitarian and socialist, period. I’m sure Hayek would have a blast deconstructing this ridiculous aphorism.

    Oh wait, he did..

  • Jonathan L

    USA is a federal state too, and I don’t see all that many decrying them as “socialist”.

    Nobody said that a federalist state is socialist. However, the whole thrust of the EU is socialist, with maximum effort being put into minimising the opportunities for free market capitalism. The only rational for the EU is to scupper free competition between competing views of government.

    But, I forgot : anyone with a plan or vision of any kind is totalitarian and socialist, period.

    What I was trying to point out was simply that having a grand vision doesn’t make it worth pursuing. If your grasp of the English language is so weak that you understood differently that’s hardly my problem. I was not trying to show that the EU is totalitarian or socialist (although it is both) I was showing that those who appeal to grand ideals are not always trustworthy. Therefore we need stronger arguments than grand visions.

    The argument that the EU was set up to stop war is weak and meaningless. Neville Chamberlain gave Hitler half of Czechoslovakia to stop war. War is bad but anything to stop war is not necessarily good.

    The real purveyors of stereotype are the europhiles who paint all those against their grand vision as fascists.

  • haveIsteppedintotheNationalFrontsForum?

    Sorry that I struck a nerve there..

    I do insist that people who see communism EVERYWHERE apart from their own fringe political grouping, are, in fact, bigots of the highest degree.

    The European Union has done a lot to promote free market reforms and accelerate the move away from statist economies and to the direction of free competition ; too bad you are too blinded by your fanaticism to realise this..

    And, of course, you declare your belief that EU is “both totalitarian and socialist” without going to the trouble of making the argument for one nor the other ; as you are obviously too stupid to know the true meaning of those concepts..

  • ernest young

    HISITNFF, (Too afraid to use your given name?)
    I do insist that people who see communism EVERYWHERE apart from their own fringe political grouping, are, in fact, bigots of the highest degree.

    A typical reply by a socialist to anyone who disagrees with them – just call them names. It wont work sonny, we have seen it all before…

    The European Union has done a lot to promote free market reforms and accelerate the move away from statist economies and to the direction of free competition ; too bad you are too blinded by your fanaticism to realise this..

    Again typical standard socialist reply. Remove small statist economies and replace them with one big one.. Promotion of free market reforms – ever read about the CAP and all that other good stuff?. We are not fanatics, but we have learnt from experience and history, a lot of which is within living memory, and too recent to be rewritten by our wonderful socialist intellectuals…

    as you are obviously too stupid to know the true meaning of those concepts....

    Once again…. you are guilty of committing the very thing that you accuse us of!, we only accuse you of being communist or statist, we dont question your mental ability, or throw a tantrum when you disagree. And yes, we do (as a group), have a very good understanding of the meaning of those concepts, and of all the spin and nuances that modern day communists etc. use to try to disguise their true intentions.

  • Mail

    I am constantly amazed at the sheer ignorance EU-bashers display with regards to the Union.

    EU created around socialist principles? I guess, if freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people are, in your book, “socialist” principles. Of course, then you would be an idiot (or is that “idiotarian”?), but if it makes you happy to think so..

    By the way, I respectfully submit the words of one famous English statesman with regards to the creation of a unified European state..

    “Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as if by a miracle transform the whole scene, and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and as happy as Switzerland is to-day. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to re-create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living. The process is simple. All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of men and women to do right instead of wrong and to gain as their reward blessing instead of cursing.”

    Again, feel free to characterise this early spokesman for European Union a socialist. Doing so will once again show your woeful ignorance of modern history and politics. And if you don’t, you’ll only reveal yourself to be a hypocrite. Quite the quandary for eurohating ignoramuses, that.

    I also present a little quiz for all of you, in the question of which British party and premier was the first to submit an application for entry into the European Community.

    It took Britain three attempts to enter the Union that you show gleefully slander and attack nowadays. Here’s a thought!! If you hate participating in the EU that much, just vote for withdrawing from the Union already!

    If, on the other hand, your governments have the ability to so easily ignore the will of the British public’s overwhelming majority, you’re the last persons to be giving lessons about democracy to anyone in Western Europe.

  • Mail

    The question was not directed at me, but I will answer anyway.

    The CAP, you say? And how is that any different to agricultural policy on the part of Margaret Thatcher or GW Bush? I haven’t exactly seen any of you condemn them as pinko commies on the basis of their agricultural protectionist policy..

    Also, last time I checked, eliminating trade barriers and allowing for the free trade was a liberal policy, in the literal sense of the word. When did this change, and do you similarly decry NAFTA as “one big statist economy”?

  • Mail

    The question was not directed at me, but I will answer anyway.

    The CAP, you say? And how is that any different to agricultural policy on the part of Margaret Thatcher or GW Bush? I haven’t exactly seen any of you condemn them as pinko commies on the basis of their agricultural protectionism..

    Also, last time I checked, eliminating trade barriers and allowing for freer trade was liberal policy, in the literal sense of the word. When did this change, and do you similarly decry NAFTA as “one big socialist economy”?

    At the very least I can claim I left this conversation having learned something new. In all honesty, I had never realised uptill now that support for free movement of goods, services, capital and people is “typical communism in disguise”.

    Verily, you learn something new every day in the internet.

  • Jonathan L


    So now we need to write an essay, complete with references just to give an opinion. The basic argument which hasn’t changed is that wide eyed ideals on their own have no value and that they can be just as easily used to justify terrible acts as to create a better world. Another way of saying the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    We must build a kind of United States of Europe.

    I have often wondered what Churchill meant by this statement and I must admit to not knowing the answer. However, I doubt the great Conservative would ever have found much to be happy about in the current structure and developments of the EU.

    I guess, if freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people are, in your book, “socialist” principles.

    Since when has the basis of the EU been these three things. If it was we would just have a free trade zone. These things are only allowed subject to zillions of rules and regulations which negate much of the value that is generated by free markets.

    The CAP, you say? And how is that any different to agricultural policy on the part of Margaret Thatcher or GW Bush?

    I don’t recall the Iron Lady being a great fan of CAP and as the leader of a EU state, she had no agricultural policy freedom. As for George W, you are unlikely to have any admirers of his trade policy on this forum.

    do you similarly decry NAFTA as “one big statist economy”?

    Where are the unnecessary directives, restrictions on trade (social chapter etc.) and undermining of national sovereignty in Nafta? Oh I forgot Nafta is a free trade zone, they manage to trade without nanny telling them how to.

  • ernest young


    Yes, yes, we have all read Churchill’s speech. Typically you take the bits that suit your argument, and forget the rest, but then we are all guilty of that..

    Yet it is from Europe that have sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations

    He was right about that, and the argument that the US of E would be a means of preventing further wars was used, and later discarded, as a valid reason for formation.

    We all know -that the two world wars through which we have passed arose out of the vain passion of a newly united Germany to play the dominating part in the world

    Pardon us for being a trifle skeptical about any ideas coming from that quarter, whether right or wrong..

    In this way only can France recover the moral and cultural leadership of Europe.

    Just goes to show that when taken out of context and time line, the most erudite statesmen can be made to appear stupid…As an Englishman of German extraction, to have France anywhere near the levers of moral and cultural leadership appals me. Their collective culture is foppish and effeminate, their collective morals are that of alleycats, and the word ‘principles’, has no direct meaning to them.

    Also, last time I checked, eliminating trade barriers and allowing for the free trade was a liberal policy, in the literal sense of the word. When did this change, and do you similarly decry NAFTA as “one big statist economy”?

    What has ‘free trade’ to do with the CPA?, which by definition and usage is just another word for vote buying by the French government,, and is seen as being solely for the benefit of French farmers.

    Having said all of that, just go easy on the generalised name calling, it doesn’t win points, and just shows that the writer has had the benfit of a biased education, where lefty rhetoric passes for debate and argument, and shows little consideration of an opponents point-of-view.

  • James,

    great reply to ‘bordbuch’.

  • What I am pointing out is that every country has its dark history. I never complained about WW2 winner-written history and Germans being treated unfairly. My point is to compare it with slavery, because people were enslaved and treated un-human based on their race. It was abolished in Brazil in 1888. And most countries involved in the slave trade haven’t dealt with the issue concerning reparations or apologies.

    I am not condemming Americans or Brits per se for slavery, although they benefited greatly from it. As I ‘ve said, they haven’t dealt with their past as intensely. The Nazi era was so horrifying, because of the well-planned governmental extermination. There were also those who fought and resisted Hitler’s hijacking. It was an atrocity that is unparallel in the world’s history that we said could never happen again – just look to Ruanda, we let it happen again, I put some blame on German politicians for not reacting.

    Goldhagen wrote a book called, Hitler’s Willing Excecutioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.” He argues that Germans were willing to obey and needed the authority figure. I don’t know if this still holds ground, he has an argument though.

    ‘German chancellors used to claim it was a matter to be resolved after the reunification of Germany, but the matter is still pending, and has in fact become a chronic strain on the diplomatic relations between Greece and Germany.’

    That’s a valid point. There are still some strains with the Czech Republic as well. On the other hand, Germany has paid significant amounts of money in forms of reparations towards Jews. It is small gesture and some questioned the idea of receiving a check that could never live up to all the pain they went through, true. It’s a gesture and is an attempt to show an understanding and initiate a continued dialog. Libeskind built the new Jewish museum in Berlin, the Holocaust Memorial neer the Brandenburg Gate is another big project in the works. Considerable effort is being placed into Jewish-German relations, the raison d’etre of Israel has been a core pillar of foreign policy

    ‘I would submit that you should better concern yourself with German reparations to the countries that your state has ravaged only a few decades ago, rather than trying to equate Germany’s dark past with the histories of France or America.’

    Again, I am not equating it. I am pointing out to dark moments in countries histories and slavery is surely one of them.

    Lastly, I am very conscious about Germany’s past, I am not proud of it, but I am of this heritage and try to understand it. At times, I do feel that there has been some progress in recent years and at least something positive to be proud of. I am listening.

  • “All totalitarians have grand and glorious plans and all socialists think that bad outcomes can be legislated against. The fact that history has proven these naive ideas wrong time and time again is ignored. But for socialists, good intent is all that matters, great leaps forward matter more than starving millions.

    If anyone truly thinks that we need a federal state to stop war should take a look at the former Yugoslavia. As for shared values, in Britain we have Adam Smith & J.S. Mill whilst in France they have Colbert & Rousseau. Not a lot of common ground.”

    That’s the problem with Europe. Everyone is so strung up on national past-time issues that if a French Minister has plans for the Constitution, the British scream, the EU is tainted by the French. If the Germans have ideas for political inclusion, oh no, nothing good can come out of Germany. Why not let the Portugeuse or Greek write the Constitution. Oh, then the large countries will say, they do not have the same economic or populace weight.

    The challenging aspect of the EU is garnering all the voices and wants of its members while still remaining autonomous. Hopefully, the eastern European countries can bring some fresh new ideas into the EU.

  • Verity

    Bordbuch asks: “Why not let the Portuguese or Greeks write the constitution?”

    Because, dear Bordbuch, we do not want or need a “constitution”? Capeche?

  • I’ve got to agree with Verity. This phony constitution is a mess and even a perfectly good one still wouldn’t be needed.