Greek immigrants remain stoic in face of German taunts

As Greece faces financial disaster, its people face hostility and conflicted feelings in Germany. While they sometimes endure jokes and taunting, they know that their countrymen are suffering back home.

Greek immigrants remain stoic in face of German taunts
Photo: DPA

In Frankfurt, Eviampios Betakis’ anger is unmistakable. He rails against Greek politics and the reports from back home and describes his personal feelings as, “Somewhere between frustration shame and aggression.”

The chairman of Frankfurt’s Greek Community organisation, representing the 6,000 or so Greeks who live in the city, said he things are so bad in his homeland that many young people are looking for a way out.

“Every day I get a mail from above all young people who want to come,” he said.

Yet the welcome they can expect in Germany may be less than warm. Betakis is starting to get sick of the jokes and comments he hears every day, with even his friends asking him, “Shall I just give you €100 in cash now?”

As Greek’s financial problems reach a peak – and European countries are forced to pitch in billions of Euros to solve them – Germany’s Greek community feels as if it’s under attack.

To some extent, the tight-knit community understands Germans’ frustration. But it still hurts that while their homeland is suffering, they must absorb the brunt of German frustration here.

Babis Kalaitzidis who sells Greek food in Cologne said the Germans were, “… afraid because they think the Greek debt will be paid by German taxpayers.”

There is also concern and anger among Greeks about the situation back home.

“People in Greece have really big trouble, they have debts,” said Kalaitzidis, who talks of people selling gold wedding rings to get money.

Added to the worry are the biting stereotypes about Greeks being lazy, not caring about the rest of Europe, or being freeloaders.

“Greeks are not lazy. The people are industrious and correct,” said Frankfurt restaurant owner Asterios Kokkinoplitis. “As a Greek, the news hurts. One could write it differently, use other words.”

The solution? There’s no easy one except for Europeans to help Greece, they say.

Kokkinoplitis and many other many Greeks believe corrupt politicians should be blamed for the crisis that has enveloped Europe.

But in the end, perhaps everyone has responsibility for what has happened, Kokkinoplitis said, explaining how his country’s entire political environment has to completely change in order to move forward.

“We’re all to blame, the politicians were indeed chosen by us,” he said.

DPA/The Local/mdm

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