For years the Germans— media, citizens and politicians alike, loved to point fingers at the poor frauds to the south— those pathetic Greeks who have cheated and swindled their way to self-destruction.
Although the headlines, stories, politicians’ quotes and online banter is countless and impossible to gather on a single website, no one put it better than the fine folks at the German magazine Focus, who manipulated an image of a famous statue of the goddess Aphrodite showing her middle finger.
The story was titled “Swindlers in the euro family” and shared stories of Greek corporate and government fraud and called out Greece as “fraudsters” in the european family, disgracing the nation through the use of something like the Venus de Milo, which is a piece of its national identity.
Another cover on Der Spiegel called Greeks liars and depicted a man on a donkey with euro bills flying out of his bushel. Still another Der Spiegel called Greeks “strange people.”
Many might have believed Siemens, which has corruption built into its corporate culture, was an isolated incident— a bad apple in a bushel of honest and responsible companies in a country known for honesty, productivity and straight-forward business dealings.
Enter Volkswagen. Here comes the karma train. Choo Choo… or as the Germans say… Töff-Töff.
The Christian Science Monitor said it best:
The scandal cuts deeper than just run-of-the-mill corporate fraud. Volkswagen, the closest thing Germany has to a national icon, lied. It cheated. It polluted – breaking the standards of reliability and environment implicit in a German label. And now it has shaken German conceptions of who is trustworthy – and what Germany stands for, at a time when its leadership of Europe amid immigration and financial crises has put it under enormous pressure.
The cheeky covers have come back to haunt Germany, and a lot of Germans who have repeatedly pointed the finger at Greece and Greeks as being fraudsters and cheaters.