The German president has decided to teach Russia to fight with remnants of totalitarianism, and could not think of anything better than to call to repent. Original article by Alexander Romanov
German president allowed himself to teach Russians to fight “remnants of totalitarianism”
The German president decided to teach Russia to fight with remnants of totalitarianism, and could not think of anything better than to call to repent. Although, in theory, one should not teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs as well as the loser should not teach the winner.
It happened during the 15th annual forum called “The Potsdam Meetings” which was held near Berlin. The event was organized by the German NGO “German-Russian Forum”. The main topic for this year’s meeting was “The influence of the past on the future.”
The two-day conference was attended by politicians, artists, scientists, civil society representatives from Russia and Germany. They discussed the following topics: “How history impacts national identity?”, “What are the major historical images that shape the consciousness of the Russians and the Germans?”, “The Future of the Past – the lessons of history.” The number of participants in such meetings is usually quite small – 15-20 intellectuals on both sides.
The highlight of the forum was the meeting with the German president Joachim Gauck in Bellevue palace, Deutsche Welle reports.
The participants were brought by bus from Potsdam to the Berlin residence much ahead of time. For an hour, they stamped in the foyer of the presidential administration, passing time by trying mineral water, juice, coffee and biscuits. Then they proceeded into the palace itself, and sat in semi-circle still waiting as the palace staff was removing extra furniture.
Appearing late by just six minutes Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor, now an active advocate of gay rights, immediately declared himself an expert on the issue and went on to a lengthy discourse on how and why Germany repented.
It was a long and painful process for Germans, he told. In West Germany, “after some delay arose a self-critical historical discourse.” At the same time, the president said, “the focus was not our own suffering and losses but on the guilt of our compatriots, their failure to save democracy, their cruelty.”
Well, this is not surprising: the suffering of German people make up only a tiny fraction of the suffering they have brought to other nations. In a different way to do it was simply impossible. What is there to discuss?
Next Gauck said that the recognition of the truth, a sense of shame and guilt allowed the Germans to regain confidence in themselves and trust of their neighbors. “National identity of the Germans – he said, – includes the awareness of our own guilt, which has a positive and stimulating effect on our nation”
Again, this is all clear. The nation, which started WWII, had to go through a drastic change. The mere shock which it had delivered to the rest of the world simply obliged to do so. It was impossible to move forward with the burden of old Nazi ideas about the “superior race”, “subhumans” and so on.
But then Gauck switched to Russia, which, as he must have known, had defeated Germany.
German President pointed out that although our country maintained “impressive historical discussions on the crimes of the Soviet regime,” the German experience of getting over the Nazi past is still not being utilized.
This immediately caused some bewilderment in the Russian part of the audience. Which crimes Mr. President is talking about? We did not have gas chambers, we did not exterminate Jews and gypsies, we declared no race subhuman, we did not make plans to destroy neighboring nations in order to free up the “living space” for ourselves.
But Gauck stood his course. He said that it would be helpful if the Russian post-communist society had analyzed its own historical guilt and repented. Nostalgia for bygone imperial status, he said, as well as the obstacles that authorities put on the “Memorial Society” (Russian anti-soviet NGO), do not contribute to overcoming the past.
And in general, Gauck said, “there are many strange things happening in the Russian society”. He said he was “shocked” by the level of popularity of such historical Russian figures as Lenin, Stalin, and even harmless Brezhnev.
Apparently, Mr. German president believed these figures are equal to Hitler. Well, let us explain that it is not so. Lenin created the Soviet state, which under the leadership of Stalin won the war, and it was the moment of greatest triumph in the history of our country. Isn’t a country’s leader worthy of popularity for such achievement? Then under Brezhnev our country had the longest period of stable and predictable life enjoyed not by some narrow groups, but by the vast majority of the population.
But Gauck thinks that we just must repent, feel guilt, shame, remorse and ask for forgiveness for everything. Perhaps he would be satisfied, if Russians had a feeling of not just guilt, but an existential guilt, well-described in the novels of Franz Kafka. This is when a person thinks that he is guilty for everything and everyone around, and especially for everyone else’s potential unrealized due to the very fact of his existence in the world.
Perhaps if the Russian society would to listen to him for a moment and started to repent, it would look just as ridiculous as the scene in the comedy movie “What a Mess“: “Vasya, forgive me, I’m such a sinful pig!” Fortunately, this is not happening and hopefully will not happen.
The participants started to carefully and at times awkwardly express their objections to the German president – an expert in repentance. Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights, Professor Mikhail Fedotov suggested instead of repenting to use a fragment of the Christian rite of baptism – a threefold renunciation of the devil. “All nations who lived through the horror of totalitarianism – said Fedotov – should not repent but to follow the path of renunciation of the regime’s crimes.”
Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, professor Sergei Karaganov considered German experience inadmissible because: “we are not the defeated country, but the country that won the war.” This fact, he said, “makes our exit from communism much more difficult.” He started kind of good, but then he blew it by making the old liberal spiel that for almost 70 years, one part of the nation was killing and oppressing the other. “And to fully admit – he believes – what we had committed would be very hard for our people.” The experience of others is not applicable to Russia, he said, “We have to recover by ourselves.”
It would be better, of course, to tell the host outright “Rubbish, my friend!” , but, apparently, the role of a guest called for politeness and he called-the German criticism of what is happening in Russia “entirely fair.”
However, at last Karaganov finally gave the hosts, including the president, a cold shower, “My friends, do not fall into the sin of arrogance! Keep in mind that Germans can instantly be reminded by other nations of what they did in the XX century. Be careful, with Russians included”
German president startled and took a defensive stance. “I assume, Mr. Professor, that your statements are not related to our after-dinner conversation,” – Joachim Gauck cut in response to the words of Karaganov. “There are nations where most of the population lives under the principle of “right or wrong, but this is my country, “- he concluded. – This country (Germany. – Comm. KM.RU) absolutely does not share this view”
Yes, there are such nations, I would say in response, and Russians is one of them.
There’s nothing Russia has to repent of towards Europe or any other country. Germany is free to either share or not share this view, but not to equate themselves and Russia and not to forget that it was Germany, which created the universal chaos in the world in XX century, and that it was Russia, which cleaned that filth up.