Greece and Weimar: parallels?

Powerful blog from Paul Mason about the tensions in Greece brought about by the government’s austerity measures. The situation in Greece is getting worse by the day with the openly neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn who picked up more seats in the last election, rampaging through the streets and attacking anyone who looks like an immigrant. Golden Dawn has infiltrated the police and its deputy leader claims that the police are now 60% Golden Dawn.

While many have drawn parallels to Weimar Germany, there are some differences, as Mason explains.

‘Love or nothing: The real Greek parallel with Weimar’

Kurt Weill’s The Silver Lake, written with playwright Georg Kaiser, tells the story of two losers – a good-hearted provincial cop and the thief he has shot and wounded – as they make their way through a society ruined by unemployment, corruption and vice.

After spending a week again in Greece – amid riots, hunger and far right violence – I finally understood it.

The opera was meant to be Weill’s path back into the mainstream. It was his first break from collaborating with Bertolt Brecht, and was scheduled to open simultaneously in three German cities on 18 February 1933.

But on 30 January Adolf Hitler was appointed Germany’s chancellor.

The first performances of The Silver Lake were disrupted by Nazi activists in the audience and on 4 March 1933 it was banned. The score was torched, together with its set designs, in the infamous book-burning ceremony outside the opera house in Berlin.

It is easy to see why the Nazis didn’t like The Silver Lake.

Weill was Jewish; the Nazi theatre critics found the music “ugly and sick”. Moreover the plot contains an allegory of the political situation on the eve of the Nazis’ rise to power.

But there has always been something else about The Silver Lake that goes beyond politics. Something hard to fathom.

Spending time in Greece, as the far right Golden Dawn party breaks up theatre performances with impunity, and street violence is common, I finally know what that something is.

The Silver Lake is ultimately about how people feel when they switch from resistance to hopelessness. And about how strangely liberating hopelessness can be.

Greece right now is a place with a lot of hopelessness. Its own prime minister, Antonis Samaras, has compared its atmosphere to that of the Weimar Republic.

You can read the rest of Paul Mason’s blog here.

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1 Comment

Filed under Europe, Greece

One response to “Greece and Weimar: parallels?

  1. Reblogged this on Representing the Mambo and commented:
    Important piece on an important piece, if you will, by The Cat on the situation in Greece. Paul Mason’s blog post is actually extremely chilling. While of course the parallels with Weimar Germany that some are drawing (and Mason pointedly rejects) are slightly hyperbolic, it’s fair to say that the MO of the openly fascist Golden Dawn is certainly analogous to that of early-period Nazism. The Greek establishment claim to be opposed to Golden Dawn but are creating the conditions for them to thrive, be it the savage austerity (that I don’t think we can fully grasp the brutality of here in the UK), or the baiting of immigrants and racial minorities that the current Greek administration has indulged in and is simply grist to the Golden Dawn mill. It scares and saddens me that Greece is sleepwalking into oblivion, and being encouraged to do so by its own and the European political and financial elite.

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