The Russian complex in Germany – what to do with it?
The events surrounding Nord Stream 2 came as a shock to Ukraine, and it is not surprising that words of betrayal were heard in the media. The authors also mention the well-known Russian complex that exists in Germany, saying that Germany now believes that it must now atone for its guilt before Russia for the human sacrifices and damage caused to it in the Second World War.
There are two paradoxes here. First, Russia itself has long ceased to view that war in terms of casualties and damage to Germany. In Russia, there is an official “victory” that views the Second World War only from the point of view: “This is how we gave them all, Russia is a champion.” In fact, the Russian government itself and the Russian propaganda after it have generally removed the issue of casualties and losses from the field of attention – both from their own policies and from foreign ones in particular.
The second paradox is this. Germany has long known and realized that the former Soviet Union is not equal to today’s Russia, that the USSR was a collection of Russia and its dependent (and formally and legally, on paper, under the Soviet constitution, even equal to it) countries. But the feeling of guilt and the need to atone for it, even in common sense, shows only to Russia.
Unfortunately, our media does not mention one important background that would change our perception of what is happening. The fact is that the current policy of the collective West towards Russia resembles the policy of the collective West towards Brezhnev’s USSR. At the time, the United States and Great Britain were uncompromising critics of the Soviet regime – but from time to time Brezhnev met with the next president of the United States and concluded agreements with him on “peaceful coexistence” – until detente. France was a “friend among enemies” – that is, France was fully subject to anti-Western rhetoric of Soviet propaganda, in general, France was also a critic of the Soviet regime – but this did not prevent close cooperation between the USSR and France in economic, cultural and many political issues. To the extent that the Frenchman Jean-Lou Chrétien became the only representative of the West, who flew into space on a Soviet ship with Soviet astronauts – apart from him, they were only representatives of the communist countries and the then pro-Soviet India; even representatives of communist but West-oriented Yugoslavia were not in the program.
Germany – or rather, West Germany – was “a political enemy, but an economic friend.” Soviet propaganda portrayed Germany as one of the most hostile countries to the USSR, and at the same time it was the largest economic partner outside the communist camp. And the gas-pipeline agreement was portrayed by Soviet propaganda itself as an act of eternal friendship and cooperation.
Let’s agree: to each other reminds the current state of affairs. By one difference: Putin is a follower and analogue of militant Stalin, not Brezhnev’s “peace fighter.” And the current Russian propaganda is more like Stalin’s than Brezhnev’s.
It seems that the collective West tends to repeat its successful experience to the point of complete copying, without paying attention to completely different conditions. Another example is the migrant crisis: since the post-war and post-colonial times, Western Europe has been home to millions of Arab and African citizens who have integrated into the societies of those countries and are no different from other citizens – we don’t even know that many movie stars show business and sports are ethnic Arabs.
It seems that Western politicians believed that the new wave of migration would be the same – new immigrants would soon become typical French, British, Germans, Dutch, and so on. Only since the post-war period have radical and extremist currents in Islam been strongly strengthened.
Therefore, the policy towards Russia is not the only thing that can seem like a “betrayal” and turn out to be a real mistake.
On the other hand, no one knows what to do and how to deal with Putin’s Russia. Imagine: in your house lives a man who looks very mentally inadequate, but he has a weapon that can destroy your house to the ground. And if only sanctions are applied to her – who knows if she will decide to shoot the whole house together with all its inhabitants? The situation is complicated by the fact that, unlike the occupant of the house, you will not call either the police or a psychiatric team to Russia. We need to find a way to keep it in the least aggressive state – but no one knows exactly how. Therefore, both whips and gingerbread are a way of trial and error in the hope that no fatal mistake will be made. And any straightforwardness in relation to Putin should be forgotten.
And the comments and analysts in our media suffer from straightforwardness. Yes, there are comparisons of current Western policy with attempts to appease Hitler, and it really looks very similar. But Hitler did not have a weapon that could put an end to human existence, and Putin has one. And Hitler did not intend to destroy the world – he only wanted to make it German, and Putin spoke openly about the permissibility of a war that will destroy everyone – remember him ” we will go to heaven, and they will just die” ? He probably said this with the expectation that he would be pacified in any situation.
And it is quite possible that the thing here is not only in the Russian complex of Germany. However, it does exist. How should Ukraine behave in terms of communication?
One month ago, most of our media did not mention the date of June 22 – the date that Russia considers the beginning of the “Great Patriotic War”. Yes, the concept of the “Great Patriotic War” is misleading. But this does not negate the fact: for most Ukrainians, the war came to their homes just then, on June 22, 1941. Yes, this date was not the beginning of World War II, but a new, most difficult stage – no doubt. And now we do not pay attention to it.
Because today we use the term “World War II”, today we know the exact dates of its beginning and end. Today we can be outside observers and researchers. At that time, neither in 1939 nor in 1941, no one had any idea that the war would be called a world war, and no one had the opportunity to look at the war remotely. Most Ukrainians lost the opportunity to look away in 1941.
I remember the war in Afghanistan. Then everyone had acquaintances or at most acquaintances of acquaintances who died there in Afghanistan. However, everyone was convinced that we live in peace and there is no war. Soviet propaganda tried. It was the same in the period 1939–1941: the realization of the war came just then, exactly 80 years ago.
In that war there was no separate Russian army – there was a Soviet one. In the ranks of which a very large number of soldiers and officers were called from Ukraine. And when Putin said that Russia would defeat the Nazis itself, my mother always cried, ” Why and why did my father die then?” . And all her life she tried with pain to imagine who and what she would be like if it weren’t for the war and if her father hadn’t died, how life would have turned out. For her, the war remained a watershed – before and after, a normal happy life before the war and a broken, mutilated after.
My generation is a generation that did not know their grandparents, and many grandmothers. Because they stayed there forever – in the war. And the statistics will not tell us how many people happily returned from the war – but not to their families, because they found a new love there, cemented by fighting.
All of Ukraine was under occupation. Three long years. In Russia, on the other hand, a relatively small territory was under occupation for a much shorter time. For most Russians, war is just fighting, for all Ukrainians, it is also life under occupation. More precisely, survival, three years of wandering.
My father told how, when he was 14 years old, he “rode” with his mother, actually walking with heavy wheelbarrows – to change clothes and household items for food to live. From Donetsk to the current Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia regions. And the house was left to his 12-year-old sister, who had a sick father and a two-year-old younger sister in her arms. My mother told how they baked “bread” from fodder beets, from which her younger sister had ulcers in her mouth. How they starved, how they didn’t have normal clothes. Without water, without light, without heating and without means of subsistence. With the humiliating, sharply discriminatory attitude of the occupiers, when they could punish for anything – and so for three years.
And enterprises, infrastructure, architectural and historical pearls are completely destroyed. Most Russian cities did not know this. One in four Belarusians, one in five Poles and one in six Ukrainians died in that war – the proportion of Russians on this tragic list is much smaller. Ukraine suffered much more than Russia from Hitler’s invasion. But in Germany – the Russian complex.
To change this situation, our diplomats must work fruitfully. We don’t know if they work. After all, the Russian complex of Germany can have a very simple one explanation: the Germans still use Soviet information and Soviet sources, where, of course, the emphasis was on Russia. It is absolutely necessary to acquaint Germans with Ukrainian sources.
This is where we face the problem. When the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation was first celebrated, my mother, a sincere patriot of Ukraine, also cried all day: “ Is it my father’s fault that where we lived, there was neither the UPA nor the Polish army? Isn’t he worthy of memory? “Because then there was a clear division: May 8 – about everyone except the soldiers of the Soviet army, and it is in the perspective of memory, May 9 – about the soldiers of the Soviet army, but more in the perspective of victory.
And really: what do our media emphasize when talking about that war? On the exploits of the UPA. On the crimes of the Red Army command. On the recruitment of untrained and unarmed guys, who were thrown to certain death. About the crimes of Soviet soldiers in Germany. It cannot be said that the exploits of Soviet soldiers are not mentioned at all – but in fragments and somewhere in the background.
I want to be understood correctly. And the victory of the UPA, and the crimes of the Soviet army – all this was, and all this must be reminded. We need to fill in the gaps and correct the lies of traditional Soviet and current Russian propaganda. Yes, we need “positive discrimination” of the same UPA. But the gaps must be filled so that no new ones appear. That in the end there was an objective picture, instead of the same distorted, only inverted.
This requires a jewelry approach, not a bulldozer method. To separate the victory from crimes in the same Soviet army and to call everything by its real names.
Today, we pay tribute to the millions of Ukrainians who fought in the Soviet army, to the OPZZH, and to other Medvedchukists. What is this miracle?
And the horrors of being under occupation – they were a strict taboo in Soviet times and have become unformatted now. And it may happen that this will remain a white spot in history, the media will simply leave us without telling.
In the meantime, an outside observer who gets acquainted with the Ukrainian media may get the impression that the Soviet army in Ukraine is considered more of an occupier, precisely in the context of that war. And that Hitler was a lesser evil for Ukrainians – again, in that context – than Stalin. Yes, Stalin committed the genocide of Ukrainians – but not under the circumstances of the war, and this does not mean that Hitler was the best! After all, Stalin ruled Ukraine for incomparably longer – that’s all.
So where does that outside observer get the feeling of guilt of Hitler’s Germany before Ukraine? If this observer is German, can he have a Ukrainian complex? Very unlikely.
And an occasional question. Poles generally consider the UPA a collaborator. Do they know that Soviet propaganda portrayed the Army of Craiova as the same collaborators? Divide and rule. Maybe such knowledge would change the perception a bit?
As for the general information about that war, today we really need balance and objectivity.