Railing Against the ‘Fourth Reich’: Anti-German Mood Heats Up in Greece
Nazi flags are hardly a rarity at Greek demonstrations these days. Anti-German tirades on primetime television have likewise become a staple. In Greece, a consensus has developed as to who is to blame for the country’s economic misery. Age old stereotypes are flourishing.
Georgios Trangas had launched into a tirade — yet again. He seemed to have completely forgotten his four studio guests. Trangas stared into the camera and turned to his favourite subject: the Germans, and how they are cold-bloodedly shoving Greece into the abyss. “Germany doesn’t care that 3 million pensioners are dying here,” he raged.
The sentence is one of his more harmless utterances on this evening. But such verbal artillery is hardly out of the ordinary on the Athens television broadcaster Extra 33, a channel full of angry broadsides against the “German occupiers.”
“Choris Anästhetiko” is the name of the program, and it lives up to its name: “Without Anaesthesia.” Politesse is an alien concept on the show as it offers ruthless analysis of the economic and debt crisis gripping Greece. On this evening, the show is set to examine the problems facing taxi drivers in Athens and the suffering shipping industry. But the experts invited to appear on the show serve little more of a purpose than providing the moderator with additional excuses to launch into a diatribe.
“Barbaric measures,” Trangas spits, referring to the austerity demands made by the so-called troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Berlin, he posits, is controlling everything anyway.
The problem, of course, is that Trangas is not merely voicing his views of the financial crisis over a beer in the bar. Rather, he is on primetime television. In addition, he hosts a breakfast radio show, writes columns and has his own magazine. Trangas is a cult figure. What he says carries a certain amount of weight in Greece. He quickly reduces complex problems to mere slogans and just as rapidly identifies who is to blame. And only seldom are those responsible to be found in his own country.
Should the conversation turn to German Chancellor Angela Merkel — or should it be forced in such a direction by Trangas — the host completely loses all control. “She acts as though she were clean. But in reality, German companies have been paying bribes in Greece for years and handing out risky loans,” he says. “Merkel is lying when she says that she knew nothing about all that. But now, she is playing the fiscal watchdog.” The rant goes on for minutes. Trangas rattles off statistics mixed with random references to the Nazi regime. Even the studio guests begin to hang their heads sheepishly.