United we fall [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]
The foundation stone on which the ideal of European unity was built threatens to split apart under the duress of the ongoing Euro crisis.
The organization that now calls itself the European Union was established after the WWII with the overriding aim of containing Germany.
The country that brought wholesale death and destruction to the entire Continent in two world wars was to be ring fenced by layers of interlinked legal, political and economic obligations to former enemies that would ensure it never again sought European domination.
That complex web carefully woven over the past half century or more may be in danger of unraveling and it's little wonder that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described it as 'the worst crisis facing Europe since WWII."
She has been promoting the idea of the EU to have a greater say in the domestic governance of the euro zone's 17 members, including real European power over countries' budgets. The only way out was 'more Europe, not less Europe".
Meanwhile, her conservative Christian Democratic party is demanding changes in the voting system within the European Central Bank - based on national economic strength not one country-one vote as now. Guess who that would benefit?
Such ideas have reopened the supposedly long-healed scabs of anti-German feeling across Europe rarely seen since the Nazis were crushed in 1945.
When an EU task force was recently sent to Athens to try and find ways out of Greek debt crisis, it was unfortunately led by a German official named Horst Reichenbach. The Greek press quickly pounced by renaming him 'Third Reichenbach' after the Hitler-led Third Reich, with cartoons of him dressed in a Nazi uniform.
His Athens headquarters was dubbed 'The New Gestapo Headquarters' by one newspaper showing that some Greeks have not forgot, or forgiven, the Nazi occupation of their country in WWII.
Hitlers' great nemesis, the United Kingdom, was not far behind, with the conservative Daily Mail newspaper claiming the Germans were trying to use the economic crisis to create a 'Fourth Reich' and achieve long-last European domination that the Nazis ultimately failed to achieve.
Poland, one of the country's that suffered longest and most from the Nazi occupation (turning parts of the country into a mass extermination industrial complex) is another critic; indeed, allegations of revived German imperialism became a hot issue in a recent election there.
This was not much of an issue in the early decades of the EEC/EC/EU. Germany was somewhat emasculated in the Cold War by the physical presence of the Berlin Wall that divided it into two separate states one pro-West and one owing loyalty to Moscow.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 altered all that. A reunited Germany emerged on the world stage as the most populous and prosperous country in Western Europe, leading to rediscovered confidence and, in some cases, a hankering after some of the ideas that the Nazis were spreading in the 1930s.