Sarah and Gerhard Pross
The European Union is pretty catholic at the moment. It all depends on the Pope, currently a female Pope, and actually a protestant vicar’s daughter with the household name Angela Merkel. She is our only hope. Only she has the power to do what has to be done during the next few years.
A long-term transfer of resources from northern Europe into its poorer south is urgently needed. The southern countries will never attract enough private investment to create the much needed workplaces for their young people.
A lost generation will be the result. And Europe cannot afford a southern breeding ground for right and left wing extremists.
Therefore, even I had to vote for Angela Merkel’s conservative party and because many other people from the left did the same, she achieved such a convincing victory in the last German elections.
She failed to get a majority on her own however, forcing a grand coalition with the left-wing Social Democrats (assuming party members vote in favour later this month). The German left has always supported a deeper and more equal European Union.
But her main advantage is that she does not need the German voter anymore. During her last term Mean Mother Merkel can work for the history books. God gave her the big chance to achieve the next level of an ‘ever closer union’ and she is clever enough to know it.
Why? Why are Germans like me so obsessed with Europe?
“I got him right behind the ear and on the other side his whole skull flew away. He was immediately dead. You know, in those days I used only ‘dum-dum’ projectiles.”
I was 13 years old and I knew exactly how father had produced his ‘dum-dums’. With a pair of pincers you clip away the sharp top of a normal projectile and into the flattened part you cut a deep groove with your bayonet. ‘Blut und Ehre – Blood and Honour’ was written on the bayonet’s blade. At 13 years old I had quite a deep knowledge about the equipment of Hitler’s army too.
“My company belonged to the last units which marched through Smolensk. It was totally destroyed. There were just ruins. Our pioneers had blown up all the stone buildings and we had burned down all the wooden houses.
“Then we marched west from one little Russian village to the next one. I cannot remember how long it lasted. You will only survive in these huge Russian plains if you can forget about time. You have to stop counting the days, otherwise you get mad.
“We slept with the Russian farmers in their small wooden houses and then we marched on. But before we left a village we burnt down everything. These people had basically no chance of surviving. It was winter and bitterly cold”
Father had been Hitler’s dream soldier; a tough and precise killing machine. He was seventeen and a half years old when he volunteered – like all his classmates – for the Nazi army and after a short basic training in France he arrived in the Russian theatre of war, the ultimate training centre for war criminals.
Shortly before his 19th birthday he lost the game. A Russian shot him straight through the head. The Russian didn’t use ‘dum-dum’ and therefore father’s body survived – but not his soul.
Later on, fighting on the Western Front with Russian Cossacks, he shot dead everybody who was in his way. The description above is how he killed a German officer who still thought to win the war near the French-German border in the spring 1945.
The Americans still get it wrong. For 20 years I had the pleasure of being a liaison officer for WHNS (wartime host nation support) with them; great breakfast – “How would you like to have your toast, sir” – and lovely films in the evening.
It is a holiday war situation and therefore it is so dangerous. War is always organised murder and innocent people are killed or get the licence to kill. Both are a crime. There is no winner, there are only losers.
All the American officers whom I met were nice guys but they tend to see the basics of war differently. And therefore, in 40 years, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, they have organised bloody disasters.
We Europeans do not have the power to stop them, but according to good old Winston Churchill there is hope. He once said: “In the end the Americans will always do the right thing – after exhausting all other possibilities.”
And although the English suffered a lot during WW II, they also got it wrong. “Don’t mention the war!” they joke. Shall I laugh about the war crimes of my father? And Erwin Rommel is not a hero! The ‘desert fox’ was as much a war criminal as my father. He signed all the orders which came along to kill the Jews in his African theatre of war.
Only the Russians got it right. I had many Russian students in Limassol, fluent in English, and of course sooner or later we discussed their ‘Great Patriotic War’.
“Grandfather on mother’s side was 17 when he became a soldier. He died as soon as he reached the front line near Orel.” Many, many Russian grandfathers died as soon as they reached the front line.
At least 28 million people living in the Soviet Union had to give their life to break the backbone of the Nazi army. The West arrived when the main job was done.
That is what you need whenever you talk about war. Precise information about death and human cruelty. Dangerous is all that Black Hawk Down nonsense in films. And the worst thing on earth are heroes sitting in a pub telling young people what great fighters they had been.
Of course, we had a lot of them in Germany after WW II. But thank God, they were a minority. People like my father, those who told at least their sons the truth, were a minority too.
The vast majority had done nothing wrong and had been “basically” always against Hitler and the Nazis.
There was a lot of political correctness in Germany after the war, but behind the official smoke screen, the fighting – a silent civil war – went on. It took the Germans half a century till a solid majority had muddled its way through to the truth.
And of course, there are still many Germans who believe in nationalism. “Right or wrong, my country. – I am proud to be a German!” And German nationalists are a solid part of Angela Merkel’s right wing party, but during the last elections she got the votes of the sons of the heroes and at the same time she could attract the sons of the war criminals. That was her main achievement.
Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, put the basic idea of an ‘ever closer union’ into two words: “Never again!” Adapted to the present European South we need three words: “No golden dawn!” And all the rest is just money.
Dr Gerhard Pross is an economist based in Cyprus. Sarah is his daughter