Crisis-hit Greeks vent anger at Germany in poll
ATHENS, Greece—Germany may be Greece's biggest creditor, but its name was received with distaste by over 70 percent of respondents to a Greek poll released Thursday.
Negative sentiments ascending to downright hatred dominate Greeks' view of pro-austerity Germany, according to the poll in Epikaira magazine, while 32 percent associated Berlin's policies with the country's Nazi past.
Asked to identify their main feelings on Germany, 41 percent of respondents named anger, indignation or fury, 30 percent ranged from disappointment and fear to revulsion, while positive sentiments were just 8.6 percent.
The survey was conducted Feb. 10-13, a week before Tuesday's eurozone approval of Greece's new euro130 billion bailout and debt relief deal, as lawmakers rushed to approve unpopular new cutbacks demanded by fellow eurozone members -- led by Germany and other top-rated economies.
Although Nazi Germany's occupation of Greece during World War II caused tens of thousands of deaths and wrecked the country's infrastructure, postwar Germany has never stirred the same hostility.
But the financial crisis and subsequent portrayal of Greeks by some German politicians and media as dishonest and lazy has caused a shift in public sentiment, despite Berlin's prominent role in both Greek bailouts.
The shift has stoked Greek memories of the war, with Germans also dismissed as callous meddlers who belittle the suffering inflicted by two years of harsh austerity, record-high unemployment and a deep recession.
German flags have been burnt at anti-austerity protests, while several chants and banners have related Berlin's policies to its Nazi past. Some 32 percent of poll respondents listed the first words they associated with Germany as "Hitler, Nazism or the Third Reich."
Asked to comment on set proposals, 77 percent of those polled said they agreed with the notion that German policy aims to establish a "Fourth Reich." More than 90 percent agreed that Greece should claim "by any means" war reparations from Germany, and 81 percent agreed that Germany is attempting to dominate Europe through its financial power.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble raised hackles in Athens last week by urging Greece to postpone its general elections, tentatively set for April, to make sure the current government has time to implement reforms.
Figurehead President Karolos Papoulias shot back: "I will not accept my country to be disparaged by Mr. Schaeuble. Who is Mr. Schaeuble to disparage Greece?"
He added that Greece "always had the pride to defend not just our freedom, not just our country, but the freedom of Europe," in an apparent reference to Greece's WWII resistance to Axis forces.
The German attitude to Greece was seen as hostile by 76 percent of respondents, while 81 percent had a negative opinion of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The nationwide VPRC poll of more than 800 people gave a 3.5 percent margin of error.