Thilo Sarrazin, the former Bundesbank member who caused outrage with his racist theories about Muslim immigration, has stoked fresh controversy with a new book claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s European policy is motivated by German guilt for the Holocaust and World War II.
Mr Sarrazin, 67, won dubious fame in 2010 with his best-selling book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany is doing away with itself), which argued that the country was being swamped with illiterate, semi-criminal Muslim immigrants. Despite being widely condemned as racist propaganda, it sold over 1.3 million copies.
The former finance expert, who lost his seat on the board of the Bundesbank because of his controversial views, has now written a second 464-page treatise called “Europe doesn’t need the Euro” to coincide with the current eurozone crisis in which he rants against the single currency.
In a deliberate attack on German political correctness, Mr Sarrazin insists that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to rescue the Euro are being: “driven by the very German reflex that the Holocaust and World War II will only be finally atoned for when all our interests, including our money, is in Europe’s hands.”
He also claims in his book that the process of European integration is a piece of “pure ideology” which derives from the fact that Germany started the war. He claims it had since resulted in “Germany becoming a hostage to all those who could be in need of help in the eurozone.”
In the book, which goes on sale in Germany tomorrow, Mr Sarrazin argues that the Berlin’s decision in May 2010 to provide financial backing for a Greek bailout was a travesty of justice because it contradicted the terms on which the government had persuaded voters to accept the euro. “It threw the German model for currency union on the scrap heap of history,” he insists.
The author says his work is a response to recent statements by Chancellor Merkel in which she claimed: “If the euro fails, then Europe fails.” He argues that as Germany has an export-based economy, it does not need the Euro.
Mr Sarrazin’s theories were given a first test last night when he appeared on the German ARD network’s prime time evening talk show. Insisting that the euro was a common currency which “does not work”, he discussed his new book with Peer Steinbru(umlaut)ck a former Social Democrat finance minister.
Mr Steinbruck accused his discussion partner of overlooking the many advantages that the euro had brought to Germany and argued that the single currency had been a “pillar of European integration.”
Dismissing his Holocaust claims as “ historical amnesia”, Mr Steinbruck described the book as a piece of “banal economic analysis” and said it ignored the fact that a bank crisis was as much to blame for Europe’s problems as the crisis over debt. “Sarrazin can make up all the bullshit he likes,” he told viewers.
Politicians today lined up to condemn the book. Wolfgang Schäuble the German finance minister remarked: “Either he (Sarrazin) writes screaming nonsense out of conviction or his work is an act of contemptible calculation.”
Green Party leader Juäregen Trittin accused Mr Sarrazin of “Chauvinism for the Mark” and said he ignored the fact that as a top exporter Germany had profited massively from the euro. “Paying out money to keep the euro is a worthwhile investment for our country,” he said. Reinhold Robbe, the president of the Germany-Israel association dismissed Mr Sarrazin’s theories as “nonsense which is not worth talking about.”