Greek newspaper Avgi, close to the Syriza party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has published a cartoon of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble “dressed in a uniform of the Wehrmacht, the army of the Third Reich, with a war cross around his neck”, observes Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer of French newspaper Libération.

Tsipras did not condemn the cartoon until two days after it was published. The Greek prime minister, writes Quatremer, was in fact the first to “open the floodgates of anti-German sentiment” by asking Germany for compensation for damage suffered by Greece during the Second World War.

With the crisis, anti-German sentiment is creeping around the continent, and Berlin “is starting to worry”. In the United Kingdom, “part of the political class […] and the popular press are upset to see the loser of the two world wars impose itself as the uncontested master of the eurozone,” writes Quatremer, adding the hostility towards Germany is growing in France as well. Right-wing sovereigntist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan qualifies the European Union as the “Fourth Reich”, Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon says “the attitude of Germany is arrogant, domineering, and leading Europe to chaos”, and the leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, has denounced “Greece’s capitulation to Berlin’s blackmail”.

The journalist notes anti-German discourse is even gaining ground with the centre-right UMP and ruling Socialist Party, due to divergences in the handling of the euro crisis. “The Germans work according to the rules. It’s only afterwards that they consider the context, while we and the Anglo-Saxons are much more pragmatic,” a French government minister tells Quatremer, who explains that —

it is enough [for Berlin] to follow the agreed rules and to not get into creative interpretation or adapt to the circumstances. As such, their “neins” become repetitive: no to a European plan to rescue the banks, no to a European recovery plan, no to financial aid for Greece, no to a soft interpretation of the rules.

However, the Bundestag endorsed the result of the most recent negotiations with Greece, “which was not a foregone conclusion”. German tabloid Bild campaigned against extending aid to Greece, and the plan was far from winning wide public support. Quatremer writes that —

Each time, Germany has accepted what it initially rejected: keeping Greece in the eurozone, financial solidarity with countries in difficulty, banking union, relaxing the terms of the Stability Pact, the European Central Bank’s new expansionist monetary policy, the agreement given to a partial recognition of the reforms sought by Athens, and so on.

The journalist asks whether France is responsible for these anti-German sentiments, since “the waning influence of [France] on the European political scene reinforces the impression of brutal domination by Berlin.”