The German flag was burnt in Athens last week as fury over further austerity measures boiled over. Harriet Alexander travelled to a town that bears the scars of hatred between nations, and found a town both angry at German demands and frightened for the future.
Eleftherios Basdekis has lived his entire life beneath a German cloud. As a boy he escaped from a Nazi massacre in his village, running for three days barefoot through the Greek countryside to flee the hellish scenes. As a businessman, he bought German-made Mercedes trucks, becoming heavily indebted in the process. And as a pensioner, looking back on 83 years spent in this mountainous pocket of central Greece, he finds himself scarcely able to survive on his meagre pension – with German-led EU politicians demanding yet more austerity. “Once again, Germany is controlling everything for us,” said Mr Basdekis. “They are pushing us around, and I just don’t trust them. They change what they say all the time. “Greece will pay its debts back, if you let us. But not with a German knife held to our throats.”
Yet last week the knife was once again brandished at the ailing Greek government by its EU paymasters. Riots erupted in Athens on Friday, with furious Greeks hurling petrol bombs at the police as the harsh austerity package was unveiled. Unions also began a 48-hour strike, with politicians expected on Sunday to vote on the cuts and reforms.