Reykjavik

In 2008, Iceland denounced Denmark, Sweden and Great Britain for turning their backs on the country during the financial crisis it was undergoing at the time. Additionally, the International Monetary Fund was hesitant to give financial support to the bankrupt country.

This article was published when Iceland’s bank was nationalized and the country found itself plummeting into bankruptcy. It demonstrates how important of a role the economy plays in the stability of the European Union. Iceland’s financial crisis raised issues about the extent to which EU member states should be bound to other members. Were Denmark, Sweden and Great Britain rightly minding their own business or should they have provided aid to Iceland?

Although Iceland underwent a peaceful regime change between 2009 and 2011 in response to the nationalization of its bank, the parliament originally blamed for the crisis has returned to political stage in recent months. With this in mind, how much economic autonomy can EU member states have? Perhaps it is difficult for Iceland to reject a central banking system if the Union is based around such a system.

Vichy– Fascist France?

Vichy France was roughly the southern half of France that was allowed to remain unoccupied after the conquest of France by the Third Reich. Its name comes from the town of Vichy, which housed the new authoritarian government of what remained of France. Contrary to popular belief, the Vichy regime was not established by the Nazis nor was it created against the will of France’s population. Rather, it was praised by millions of  French citizens and had not a National Socialist agenda, but a French one entirely. Because it existed only during World War II, people tend to think of Vichy France as a temporary government that existed as an extension of Nazi Germany. This understanding is partly accurate– Vichy France was indeed temporary in the eyes of the Third Reich. As Mak puts it, “this ‘free’ bit of France existed only as long as the German had no need for it.” (Mak, In Europe, pg. 520) But the Vichy government, despite being content to conform to a new Europe inhabited largely by Germany, did not see itself as a servant to the Reich. It is more accurate to view Vichy France as a fifth new fascist government in addition to Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal; it had its own aspirations to build an authoritarian France that could one day surpass Germany in power.

Here is a link to the Vichy anthem which Mak mentions on page 522:

Lyrics:

Maréchal, nous voilá

Devant toi, le sauveur de la France.

Nous jurons, nous, les gars,

De servir et de suivre tes pas

Huis Doorn

Doorn is a small town in the Netherlands, known for being the final resting place of the last emperor of Germany, Kaiser Willhelm II. Located in the town is Huis Doorn, the manor in which Willhelm II often stayed throughout his life. Mak cites the Kaiser’s grandson writing about his time spent spent with his grandfather at the manor (Mak, 134). It is at Huis Doorn that we see, based on the writings of his grandson, a different perspective of the German Emperor. Rather than studying this man based on political events in history, Mak shows us the more human side of Willhelm. Mak quotes his grandson’s diary: “Technical things, scientific discoveries, educational reform, theatre, art, he was engrossed by all of that.” (Mak, 134)

Indeed, we can learn from Huis Doorn that Kaiser Willhelm II was very much a kind of “Renaissance man,” a “representative of the modern Germany.” (Mak, 134) For example, the large park surrounding the manor was a crucial part of Willhelm’s decision to purchase it because it not only offered him room to exercise but also a chance to involve himself in maintaining the grounds, woods and gardens. Additionally, his dogs are buried in the grounds of the manor, most notably his beloved dog Senta (buried in the lawn just outside of Willhelm’s mausoleum), who was his companion during the stressful years of World War I.

Huis Doorn is evidence of the Willhelm II that was, in the end, just a man with interests familiar to most everyone. And today, it brings some tourists.