If you want to understand what is going on with all of the debt problems in Europe, then I suggest that you read "The Bubble That Broke the World." It was published in the early thirties and in it Garet Garret describes the world of finance after WWI.
To summarize: The United States, both privately and publicly, lent money to various countries in Europe to continue fighting the war. Once the war ended the European countries could pay for their debt to the US for a while, the twenties, with help from more loans from the US. The US continued to lend in the hopes that they would not lose what they had already lent. Once the Great Depression started those countries tried to get out of their debts, and the US continued to loan money so the European countries could pay back their loans to the US.
All of this led to: the great depression, hyperinflation in Germany, and WWII.
Let's look at the parallels with today's Europe.
Greece, and a few other counties, ran up huge government deficits and borrowed money to pay for it from other countries, and banks in other countries. Just like debt from WWI. Once the money was loaned, they discovered that they could not pay for their continual budget deficits and interest on more debt. The countries that loaned money, not wanting to lose what they had already lent, lent more in the hopes that Greece, and other countries would "turn it around."
And now Greece, and other countries, are wondering why they can't just go bankrupt. And the creditor counties are trying to not let that happen.
I don't predict good things for anybody, but I do recommend the book which is very interesting.