A)How to Make a Green, Grassroots Movement in the Online World
Most “ninja weaponry” was originally found not in an armory but on a farm. Items like the sai, the bo staff, and the mighty nunchuck were used by desperate, impoverished people in their fight for a better world. By the time of the American Revolutionary War, weapons progressed to the point that the “shot heard round the world” was fired from a black powder musket. Today, the weapons of progress and change are different. I’m not referring here to the machine gun or the nuclear warhead, either, but to something altogether more powerful: the World Wide Web. In each of these cases, the core power came not from the weapons’ form but from the ability to be heard.
We’ve already seen the power of grassroots movements in the online world. Two of the most prominent examples can be found with the Million Mother March of 2000, where, less than a decade after the first Internet browser was introduced, early-stage web tools were used to bring more than 800,000 mothers together for a political rally; as well as Barack Obama’s campaign, where an essentially unheard-of candidate received half a billion dollars in online contributions.
So, how can the green movement make a real change through these web-based grassroots movements? These past examples have shown us the basic framework.
Step 1: Begin with a Foundation of Strong Values
Your cause must be clear and direct, with a mission statement that shows your vision in a compelling manner. History has shown us that people are far more drawn to topics that are positive and noncontroversial. This doesn’t mean that you can’t oppose something — such as corporate waste, in the case of green movements — but that it must be stated in a positive manner. Using the corporate waste example, you’re not fighting against evil corporations, but for retaining natural beauty.
The Million Mother March gave us an admirable precedent. Although its campaign could be stated as “against violence directed toward children,” its main campaign message was focused on “for protecting a child,” which far more strongly conveys the anti-violence message than a direct statement could.
Step 2: Know Your Arsenal
The weapons in your online armory need to be learned if they are to be used. A few of the tools to familiarize yourself with include: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, podcasting, StumbleUpon, Digg, PPC campaigns, email marketing, and RSS feeds. Not every tool should be used universally, but it’s crucial that you understand the purpose and appeal of each. Additionally, you should understand the advantages of keeping all your resources and platforms online. A single website can serve the same purpose as neighborhood canvasing, handing out opinion surveys, sending updated information, scheduling events, and far more.
Step 3: Make Involvement Easy and Immediate
Once you have decided how to frame your presence, make getting involved with the cause as simple and immediate as possible. Make your navigation clear and direct, provide materials and resources that answer visitor questions, and make the “next step” obvious. Whether it’s providing step-by-step directions on local organization, giving utilities to take action directly from the web page, or something else entirely, getting people involved increases both their level of contribution and commitment.
The case in point here is the mass cold-calling labor force that was organized through the Obama website in 2008. More than a million calls were made using this tool — all from grassroots users who gladly volunteered their time.
Step 4: Know What You’re Selling
It may just be that there’s no such thing as a completely unselfish action. In the case ofgreen causes, your contributors and volunteers act because working for the common good, promoting social responsibility, and feeling like they’re making a real impact are all empowering things. Further, a sense of community involvement and connection provides substantial positive reinforcement during the course of action. By understanding these motivations, you can build a platform that more effectively involves contributors at every level.
The Million Mother March illustrated this point incredibly well with its Tapestry of Woven Words forum. Intended as a place to share stories, this forum (according to Donna Dees Thomases, founder of the Million Mom March) became a real family, largely thanks to users sharing their own stories. By allowing for this sense of community, the Million Mom March opened the door to unprecedented success.
Step 5: Make It Personal and Impact-Oriented
Too often, citing a problem and focusing on it will create nothing more than a sense of helplessness. The best approach to creating a message is to focus on the impact of solutions and to do so in a way that brings the need for such solutions home.
Yes, you must write with conviction, and yes, you must encourage users to spread the word, but it’s the connection to their own pre-existing desires that will truly involve them. People rarely connect with abstracts, such as being “environmentally friendly.” However, these same people will become quickly enraged when a small local lake is polluted. The answer is connection.
It’s important to use a personal angle in your campaign structure. One example of this comes from the Million Mom March, where the greatest source of monetary contributions came from donations made in the name of a child. Here, it was not about violence against children but violence against a specific child.
B)Germany Should Pay its Debt to Greece
The French economist and consultant to the French government Jacques Delpla stated on July 2, 2011, that Germany owes to Greece 575 billion Euros from Second World War obligations (Les Echos, Saturday, July 2, 2011). On September 18, 2011, the German newspaper Die Welt admitted that Germany owes to Greece many billions of Euros at least from obligations arising from a forcibly obtained loan from Greece during World War II.
by Dr. Costas Tzanos*
Please go to http://www.greece.org/blogs/wwii/ and sign the petition of the Forum of Hellenic Professors and PhDs requesting the German government to honor its long-overdue obligations to Greece by repaying the forcibly obtained occupation loan, and by paying the World War II war reparations awarded to Greece by international agreements.
In the summer of 1940, Mussolini, perceiving the presence of German soldiers in the oilfields of Romania (an ally of Germany) as a sign of a dangerous expansion of German influence in the Balkans, decided to invade Greece. In October 1940, Greece was dragged into the Second World War by the invasion of its territory by Mussolini. To save Mussolini from a humiliating defeat, Hitler invaded Greece in April 1941.
Greece was looted and devastated by Nazi Germany as no other country under Nazi occupation. The Nazi minister of Economics, Walter Funk, said Greece suffered the tribulations of war like no other country in Europe.
Upon their arrival, the Germans started to live off the country. They appropriated whatever they needed for their stay in Greece, and shipped back to Germany whatever they could lay their hands on: foodstuff, industrial products, industrial equipment and stocks, furniture, heirlooms from valuable collections, paintings, archaeological treasures, watches, jewelry, and from some houses even the metal knobs from the doors. The entire output of Greek mines of pyrites, iron ore, chrome, nickel, magnesite, manganese, bauxite, and gold was obtained for Germany. James Schafer, an American oil executive working in Greece, summed it up: “The Germans are looting for all they are worth, both openly and by forcing the Greeks to sell for worthless paper marks, issued locally” ( Mazower p.24). Mussolini complained to his Minister of Foreign Affairs Count Ciano: “The Germans have taken from the Greeks even their shoelaces”(Ciano p.387).
The massive looting of the country, the hyperinflation generated by the uncontrolled printing of German Occupation Marks by German local commanders, and the consequent economic collapse of the country, precipitated a devastating famine. In addition to providing food for the 200,000 to 400,000 Axis occupation troops stationed in Greece, the country was forced to provide the Axis forces involved in military operations in North Africa. Greek fruits, vegetables, livestock, cigarettes, water, and even refrigerators were shipped from the Greek port of Piraeus to Libyan ports (Iliadakis p. 75). The International Red Cross and other sources have estimated that between 1941 and 1943 at least 300,000 Greeks died from starvation (Blytas p. 344, Doxiadis p.37, Mazower p.23).
Nazi Germany and Italy imposed on Greece exorbitant sums as occupation expenses to cover not only their occupation costs but also to support the German war efforts in North Africa. As a percentage of GNP, these sums were multiples of the occupation costs borne by France (which were only one fifth of those extracted from Greece), Holland, Belgium, or Norway. Ghigi, the Italian plenipotentiary in Greece, said in 1942, “Greece is completely squeezed dry” (Mazower p. 67). In an act of utter audacity, the occupation authorities forced the Tsolakoglou government to pay indemnities to German, Italian and Albanian nationals residing in occupied Greece for damages, presumably suffered during military operations, which were never defined. The Italian and Albanian citizens alone received sums equivalent to 783,080 dollars and 64,626 dollars respectively! (Iliadakis p. 96). Greece, which was destroyed by the Axis, was forced to pay citizens of its enemies for presumed but unproven damages.
In addition to the occupation expenses, Nazi Germany obtained forcibly from Greece a loan (occupation loan) of $ 3.5 billion. Hitler himself had recognized the legal (intergovernmental) character of this loan and had given orders to start the process of its repayment. After the end of the war, at the Paris meeting of 1946 Greece was awarded $ 7.1 billion, out of $ 14.0 billion requested, for war reparations.
Italy repaid to Greece its share of the occupation loan, and both Italy and Bulgaria paid war reparations to Greece. Germany paid war reparations to Poland in 1956, and under pressure from the USA and the UK (to placate Tito and keep him from joining the Soviet block) paid war reparations to Yugoslavia in 1971. Greece demanded from Germany payment of the occupation loan in 1945, 1946, 1947, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1987, and in 1995 (after the unification of Germany). Before the unification of Germany, using the London Agreement of February 27, 1953, West Germany avoided to pay its obligations arising from the occupation loan and war reparations to Greece on the argument that no “final peace treaty” had been signed. In 1964, German chancellor Erhard pledged repayment of the loan after the reunification of Germany, which occurred in 1990. As the German magazine “Der Spiegel” wrote on July 23, 1990, with the Two (West and East Germany) Plus Four (USA, former Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and France) Agreement that paved the way for the German unification, the nightmare of demands for war reparations by all those damaged by Nazi Germany, which could be raised by signing a “peace treaty”, disappears. This statement by Der Spiegel has no legal basis whatsoever, but it is an acknowledgement of the devices Germany is using to refuse a settlement with Greece (see also guardian.co.uk, June 21, 2011). The same magazine, on June 21, 2011, quotes the economic historian Dr. Albrecht Ritschl, who warns Germany to take a more chaste approach in the euro crisis of 2008-2011, as it could face renewed and justified demands for WWII reparations.
Indicative of the current value of the German obligations to Greece are the following: using as interest rate the average interest rate of U.S. Treasury Bonds since 1944, which is about 6%, it is estimated that the current value of the occupation loan is $163.8 billion and that of the war reparations is $332 billion.
Nazi Germany did not just take “even their shoelaces” from the Greeks. During WWII Greece lost 13% of its population as a direct result of the war (Doxiadis p 38, Illiadakis p 137). During the Battle for Greece almost 20,000 enlisted Greek men were killed, and more than a 100,000 were wounded or frostbitten, while about 4,000 civilians were killed in air raids. But these numbers pale by comparison to the loss of human life experienced during the occupation. According to conservative estimates, the deaths resulting directly from the war before the war ended adds up to about 578,000 (Sbarounis p. 384). These deaths were the result of the persistent famine, caused by the looting and economic policies of the Axis, and of the atrocities committed either as reprisals, as a response to the resistance, or as means to terrorize the Greek population. The above number does not include the deaths which occurred after the end of the war from diseases such as TB (400000 cases) and malaria, from persistent malnutrition, wounds and exposure, all of them a direct result of war conditions. Thus, in WWII Greece lost as many lives, mostly of unarmed men women and children, as the USA and the UK together.
Most of the atrocities committed by the Nazis in Greece stemmed directly from two executive orders issued at the highest levels of the Third Reich. According to the torching directive, issued by Hitler himself, if there was a suspicion that a residence was used by the resistance, that building was a legitimate target to be burned down with its inhabitants. The second order, signed by Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, specified that for every Nazi killed, a minimum of 100 hostages would be executed, and for every wounded one, 50 would die (Payne 458ff, Goldhagen pp 189-190 and pp 367-369, Blytas pp 418-419).
The first mass executions took place in Crete even before the island fell to the Germans. In 1945, under the auspices of the United Nations, a committee headed by Nikos Kazantzakis enumerated the destruction of more than 106 Cretan villages and the massacre of their inhabitants (see video on Kontomari massacre). During the occupation, the Germans murdered the population of 89 Greek villages and towns (see the massacre at Distomo), while over 1,700 villages were totally or partially burned to the ground and many of their inhabitants were also executed (see the Greek Holocaust). To the Greek victims of the Nazi reign of terror should be added about 61,000 Greek Jews who, along with about 10,000 Christians, were deported to the concentration camps and most of them never returned (Blytas p.429 and p. 446).
Another aspect of the Greek occupation is the systematic looting of Greece’s many museums, both under orders from the occupation authorities, and as a result of the individual initiative of officers in position of command. The names of General von List, commander of the the 12th Army, of General Kohler, of the Larissa command, and of General Ringel, of the Irakleio and Knossos command, are associated with the removal of significant archeological treasures. List was responsible for accepting as a present a beautiful ancient head of the 4th century BC, while Ringel sent back to Austria several cases of antiquities from the historic Villa Ariadne as well as boxes containing small objects from the Knossos Museum. “Officially sanctioned thefts” have been recorded at the museums of Keramikos, Chaeronea, Thessaloniki’s St. George Museum, Gortynos, Irakleio, Pireaus, Skaramangas, Faistos, Kastelli Kissamou, Larissa, Corinth, Tanagra, Megara, Thebes and many others (Blytas p. 427). What is especially tragic is that in many of these lootings, well known German archeologists provided expert guidance to the perpetrators. And although some of these antiquities were returned to Greece in 1950, the majority of the stolen museum pieces have never been traced.
In Crete and elsewhere, local German commanders ordered the excavation and looting of many archeological sites. These excavations were carried out by German archeologists, while Greek archeologists, curators and museum inspectors were forbidden to interfere, usually under threats which could not be ignored.
We request the German government to honor its long-overdue obligations to Greece by repaying the forcibly obtained occupation loan, and by paying war reparations proportional to the material damages, atrocities and plundering committed by the Nazi war machinery.
*Costas Tzanos PhD, Nuclear Technology, wrote this on behalf of the Forum of Hellenic Professors and PhDs.