Former German central banker Thilo Sarrazin, whose musings on Muslim immigrants sparked outrage in 2010, has triggered fresh controversy with a book that paints Germany as the euro zone's hostage, forced to pay out vast sums to atone for the Holocaust.
In the book, "Europe doesn't need the euro," being published today, Sarrazin argues that the euro zone is blackmailing Germany into agreeing to euro bonds or mutualized debt.
Supporters of euro bonds in Germany "are driven by that very German reflex, that we can only finally atone for the Holocaust and World War II, when we have put all our interests and money into European hands," Sarrazin writes, according to extracts published in the German magazine, Focus.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition is resisting EU pressure to back the introduction of euro bonds jointly underwritten by all euro zone members, fearing they would remove pressure on heavily indebted states such as Greece to put their finances in order. But pressure has increased on Merkel to reconsider, following Socialist Francois Hollande's victory in France's presidential election. The issue is expected to be discussed at an informal EU summit on Wednesday.
Sarrazin calls Germany's agreement to bail out Greece evidence of its "susceptibility to blackmail" over its Nazi past.
The book prompted comments from politicians even before its publication. "Either he is speaking and writing this appalling nonsense out of conviction or he is doing it with despicable calculation," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.
Peer Steinbrueck of Germany's opposition Social Democrats called Sarrazin's theories worthless. And Greens leader Juergen Trittin said, "It is pathetic that he is using the Holocaust to secure as much attention as possible for his euro bond thesis."
Sarrazin was forced to resign from the board of the Bundesbank after his 2010 bestseller, "Germany does away with itself," accused Turkish and Arab immigrants of exploiting Germany's welfare state, refusing to integrate and lowering the average intelligence.