Writing at the Gatestone Institute website, Amir Taheri reviews Matthias Küntzel’s Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold, available now from Telos Press Publishing:
In the past 50 years or so, the “special relationship” between Iran and Germany has been highlighted in numerous ways. The first German industrial fair held in a foreign country after the Second World War was hosted by Tehran in 1960 with Economy Minister Ludwig Erhard leading a delegation of over 100 German businessmen. After that, all German Chancellors, starting with Konrad Adenauer, made a point of visiting Iran until the fall of the Shah. Even after the mullahs seized power, Germans pursued the special relationship through high-level visits, including that of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The only time the German Federal parliament approved a law unanimously was when it enacted legislation to guarantee investments in Iran.
Some critics claim that the Germans are attached to Iran for purely economic reasons.
Küntzel shows this not to be the case. As the world’s number-one exporter, Germany has little need of Iran, which represented less than half of one per cent of all German exports in 2013. Nor is Germany a major importer of oil or anything else from Iran.
According to Küntzel, German leaders have at least two other reasons for helping Iran defy the United States.
The first is German resentment of defeat in the Second World War followed by foreign occupation, led by the US. That resentment cannot be publicly expressed, if only because Germany is a member of NATO and needed US protection against Russia, an even more dangerous enemy, during the Cold War. If Iran thumbs its nose at the US, so much the better.
The second reason is that Iran is one of the few countries, if not the only one, where Germans have never been looked at as “war criminals” because of Hitler. For over 100 years, Germany has been the favorite European power of most Iranians. Germans reciprocate the sentiment by having a good opinion of Iran. Küntzel cites a number of opinion polls that show a majority of Germans regard the US and Israel, rather than Iran, as the biggest threat to world peace.