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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Great hoarders, the Hun

In May 1945, sixty-five years ago, British troops including my father fanned out across northern Germany in a conclusion to the liberation that had started nearly a year earlier. Having come from an England in which the rationing system had left the population hungry, if lean and healthy in objective terms, they had seen real starvation in Holland. The Dutch, their entire agricultural product having been taken by the Germans, were eating grass. Northern Germany astonished them. The people were plump and rosy, and each neat house had a store cupboard or cellar crammed with foodstuffs - jars of preserved fruits, smoked hams and sausages and commercial tins and packets.

They couldn't hide the food, but they hid their gold as peasants traditionally do, burying it under the hearth or in the pigpen. For gold, too, had flowed back to Germany from the mass looting of an entire continent. Economists wondered at Germany's post-war miracle recovery, and I suspect it was driven in large part by the German people loosening their grip on their stolen gold. Great hoarders, the Hun.

Today of course they're buying gold, not looting it, and have driven the price up to record levels. The collapse of the Euro, and a devastating global financial crisis, have become real possibilities and the Hun is going into hoard mode. The Bundesbank is checking its contingency plan to go back to the Deutchmark, and security printers in Hamburg and Dresden may even as I type be banding and stacking pallets of new D-mark notes.

Neither the UK nor indeed the world will be unaffected by such a collapse, and the deep crisis we all feared in 2008 could well happen in 2010.


Demetrius said...

Indeed, as someone who was in the British Army of Occupation several years after 1945, I did wonder who exactly had won or lost the War. Even then they were still short of cigarettes but to my advantage had plenty of food to barter.

Chuckles said...

Ja vell, akk ve vanted vos the Sudentenland

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"I did wonder who exactly had won or lost the War."

Watching with horror the tsunami of meddling and power-grabbing that floods out of Brussels, I often find myself asking that question.

Elby the Beserk said...

Who won the war? Well, I gather that the Russians think it hilarious, that, having applauded the collapse of the Iron Curtain, we have now created our own EUSSR.

And so they should. The EU will be seen over the next few years, as it tears itself apart and burns money as even Gordon Fuckwit Brown never managed to do.