Germany is Europe’s paymaster because it committed the Holocaust, claims a new book by Thilo Sarrazin, a firebrand author and former board member of the German central bank. The claim by the controversial writer achieved the desired effect of stoking publicity for Tuesday’s launch of ‘Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro.’
Thilo Sarrazin, the former board member of Germany’s central bank who caused outrage two years ago with a bestseller criticizing the impact of Muslim immigrants on German society, presented a new book on Tuesday that could strike a similar chord with Germans: “Europe Doesn’t Need the Euro.”
In his latest work, the combative politician, a maverick member of the opposition center-left Social Democratic Party, controversially argues that Germany is being pressured to bail out the euro zone because it perpetrated the Holocaust.
Sarrazin writes that supporters of euro bonds in Germany “are driven by that very German reflex, that we can only finally atone for the Holocaust and World War II when we have put all our interests and money into European hands,” according to excerpts published in German media ahead of the book launch.
Politicians lined up to dismiss the comment as an attempt to whip up publicity for his book launch with crude rhetoric laced with far-right undertones.
“It is pitiful that he invokes the Holocaust to secure the maximum possible attention for his theories on euro bonds,” the parliamentary floor leader of the opposition Greens, Jürgen Trittin, told the newspaper Die Welt on Monday, adding that Sarrazin was engaging in “deutsche mark chauvinism.”
‘Nationalist and Reactionary’
Carsten Schneider, a budget policy spokesman for the SPD, said: “Sarrazin is once again trying out the usual provocation. His criticism of the euro is nationalist and reactionary.” Volker Kauder, the parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said: “Sarrazin is wrong again. The euro is a success story and will remain so.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has steadfastly rejected the introduction of euro bonds — jointly issued and guaranteed by all the euro member states — as a way to tackle the debt crisis. She says the move would increase German borrowing costs and remove an incentive for high-debt countries to bring their finances in order, because they would have access to funds at affordable interest rates.
Pressure on her to back down is mounting, though. France’s new president, François Hollande, has said he will propose euro bonds at an informal EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is expected to back him.
Sarrazin’s comment on the Holocaust is a blunt way of describing the central tenet of German foreign policy ever since the end of World War II — that Germany’s leading role in pushing for European integration stems from its responsibility for the war and the Holocaust.