Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Has Germany Learned from its Past?

Berlin Lessons Learned?

Germany is a relatively young country. Created as a 'Customs Union' it quickly became an Empire as Bismark consolidated power through a war with France. In 1871 all members of the Zoll Union became provinces of the Empire, with the exception of Luxembourg whose ruling Duke opted out.

Bismarck introduced reforms such as health insurance, but mainly the period from 1871 to 1945 were of colonial expansion and territorial war.

During those years and its wars Germany, from Imperial to Nazi earned a reputation for extreme brutality. It pursued its aims showing contempt for those who opposed it. The treatment of Africans and Slavs were similar, guided by a belief that they were lesser beings. Treatment of the Jews is rightly remembered as the most appalling genocide in modern history. Unfortunately, some Germans remain in denial. Even the historian ex Chancellor Helmut Kohl refused to admit the horrors of German treatment of African.

Of course judged by today's mores German history is truly awful. So too is that of most countries including the UK. More importantly, judged by the mores of then German actions were truly frightful, whereas those of the Anglo Saxon world were not.

At the end of WW1 there is little doubt that the French inspired Versailles treaty was designed to punish the Germans. Punish them not just for WW1, but 1870 too. Many claim that the hardships and hyper-inflation that resulted gave rise to Hitler. That may be so, but one might have expected that lessons would have been learned too. Sadly they were not.

At the end of 1945 Germany was defeated, crushed almost beyond recognition. This time the peace was overseen by the US and Britain. They did not believe that punishment of the whole population was either practical or desirable. They set about rebuilding and seeking to create a new Germany in their own image. Marshall aid poured in. Berlin was relieved. Volkswagen saved by the British and a National Newspaper Die Welt created, also by the British.

Western German debts were written off and its cooperation with its neighbours encouraged. Democracy introduced and a Chancellor elected. Job done? Those who shared this optimism were delighted when the 1952 "Coal and Steel Pact" morphed into the Common Market. Friends and an erstwhile enemy sharing the goal of bringing peace and prosperity to a war ravaged continent. Only Hard Left Tony Benn warned that membership of the Common Market would soon become a stage in the creation of a single European state and he foresaw that Britain would be a minor part in that.

The political class in Britain remained oddly naive through stages of EEC and EC metamorphosis until its final form as the European Union. Britain came close to adopting the Euro and senior, now elderly Conservatives like John Major were attracted to the idea. Already by 2000 the German economy was dominant. Wages, social care and tax rates were never harmonised across the Union and it was a marriage of unequals. Germany benefited by some 15% when it joined the EURO forcing all but Holland into economic difficulties.

While the liberal media were demonising UKIP and elected MEP Nigel Farage, and those who exposed the ambitions of the European Unionists they ignored totally the sinister figure at the heart of Brussels. In office since 2004. Martin Selmayr was never forensically challenged. He was a career bureaucrat from Berlin, left free to shape the EU in Germany's interest. So great was his stranglehold on the European Commission that even his admirers like Jean-Claude Juncker jocularly referred to him as 'The Monster' and a speaker in the Commission acclaimed Selmayr "the most "powerful bureaucrat in the World". It is in exposing Juncker and Selmayr that Farage contributed most profoundly to modern Britain and tapped a deep instinctive unease in Britain that led to the 2016 Brexit result.

Whether deliberate or not Germany dominates the EU economically and politically. Its refusal to complete monetary union with a transfer union condemns the Euro to exist as a German Fiat and the other users as pawns in a game of diminishing returns. Indeed they are paying a modern day Dane Geld. Those who see the EU as the Fourth Reich have merit in the argument. What is missed is that the German economy is a mess and its politics too. It is pertinent to ask, "If Germany cannot manage when it has a 15% advantage, what does the future hold?"

Germany's double standards are starkly apparent in respect Ukraine. Backed into a moral struggle Germany has shown no embarrassment in operating gross double standards and has cheated on Britain and its EU associates and NATO allies. Although signed up to sanctions against Russia, Germany continues to have a flourishing export trade, dishonestly doing so through Russia's neighbours, to create a smokescreen of compliance. In May Reuters reported that though direct trade with Russia was diminished by half, German exports to Kyrgyzstan were up an implausible 949 % and those to Russia's neighbours like Armenia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan an implausible 150 %. So, Putin's war continues to enjoy German economic support.

Those who fear that the German leopard has not changed its spots, but that history may repeat itself, have a point. Those who support the creation of an EU Unitary State are playing with fire. The component nations are unequal. Further integration will simply make the matter worse. It will create a pressure cooker that future generation will resent. They will not be able to keep the lid on inequality. Inequality, and oddly enough disappointment in Germany that the plan failed.

There is a way to avoid what could be a future catastrophe. Break up the Euro, return to real value floating National currencies. Abandon the EU Imperial idea and come together in a free trade area that benefits all. EFTA, for example. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames