Sunday, April 21, 2013

Merkiavelli and the Spiked Helmet

Photo AFP/Getty
Yesterday I read an article by Dominic Sandbrook in the right leaning Daily Mail, sometimes considered as The Newspaper that Rules Britain : Angela Merkel has made Germany master of Europe in a way Hitler and Kaiser Wilhelm only dreamt of. The implications are frightening.

What attracts the potential reader in the first place is a picture showing our chancellor crowned with a spiked helmet and naming her Merkiavelli. This is an interesting photo composition, for the headgear marked FR - mirror inverted, by the way - is the helmet of the tragic Emperor Frederick III, FR standing for Frederick Rex of Prussia. The British newspaper choose the wrong helmet, for the Emperor who only reigned for 99 days before he died of cancer of the larynx was anglophile and known for his liberal views. This was partly due to the influence of his wife Victoria Princess Royal, the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria.

Frederick, mourned even in Britain (Puck)
Frederick had been the hope of the progressive forces in German society pushing for a transformation of the authoritarian Second Reich into a democratic constitutional monarchy. Most historians are convinced that history would have taken a different course if Frederick had lived on.

Court ball in the White Room of the Berlin City Palace in 1886. Star of the evening is the impressive crown prince Frederick surrounded by members of the Progressive Party. To the left Berlin's mayor and speaker of the Reichstag Max von Forckenbeck, on his side wearing the red gown of the dean of the medical faculty of Berlin's Humboldt University is professor Rudolf Virchow whose motto was liberty with its daughters education and affluence. In between there is the physisist and president of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (equivalent to the National Bureau of Standards in the US) Hermann von Helmholtz. Painting by Anton von Werner.

Otherwise I learned from the article why Germany clings to the euro. It is trying hard to keep all those wobbling Mediterranean members in the eurozone. Its reason is not that it cares for the European Union but pure economic egoism. Admittedly, there is an element of truth in this statement.

Many countries spend more than their financial resources allow and they drown in their debts, not a good legacy to bequeath to our great-grandchildren. One way to escape the debt trap is to cut spending with all the consequences for the national economies. Bringing down social programs and reducing investments both give rise to an increasing unemployment. Will leaving the euro help those countries? I am not sure. Devaluating their new/old national currency will on the one hand help boosting exports and attracting euro-tourists, however on the other hand the debts remain counted in euro. Fact is that we Germans guaranteeing the eurozone bailout fund with billions of euros are slowly becoming fed-up by all those attacks of those who slipped under the so-called rescue umbrella and now moan about the consequences. Is there a solution to the problem?


  1. Hello,
    My name is David Stroebel and I am an author from the United States. May I please introduce my Krupp dynasty book to you in the hope that you would consider doing a review of it for your blog?

    Thank you
    David Stroebel

    1. Hello Dave,

      it will be interesting to read what you have to say in addition to those who published about the Krupps earlier.

      All the best, Manfred