Many Germans want to understand Russia

Many Germans want to understand Russia

A reading with Gabriele Krone-Schmalz

by Matthias Klaus

The thesis that there is a big difference between the opinion published in our mainstream media and the actual opinion of citizens in Germany, is being confirmed again and again. In the Black Forest town of Villingen-Schwenningen, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, as part of the interview series “Autor im Gespräch” (Author in Conversation), promoted the normalisation of German-Russian relations and pleaded for a way of dealing with Russia based on reason and understanding. This met with a very positive response.
The extent to which the current one-sided reporting on Russia affects the citizens of Germany was demonstrated by the great response in the new concert hall (Tonhalle), which was fully occupied with over 600 visitors. There was a strong need to hear a dissenting voice to the published opinion, which pleasantly differs from the “demonisation of Russia”. The subtitle of her latest book “Eiszeit” (Ice Age)  is “Wie Russland dämonisiert wird und warum das so gefährlich ist” (How Russia is demonised and why this is so dangerous).
Gabriele Krone-Schmalz has already received many awards and prices for her exemplary commitment, including the “Bundesverdienstkreuz I. Klasse” (Federal Cross of Merit, First Class) for “die Qualität der Fernsehberichterstattung” (the quality of the television coverage) in 1997.
At the very beginning of the conversation Ms Krone-Schmalz explained to what extent language can be abused by not listening to the other person any more, let alone have to take him seriously, by analysing the derogatory term “Russlandversteher” (Russia understanders) in detail. Generally it is regarded as a desirable goal to understand the other person, to be able to put oneself in the position of the other one, i.e. to possess empathy. But the combination of the words in the polemically meant term “Russlandversteher” is supposed to have the opposite effect on the reader’s or listener’s mind. With this word creation the one who wants to understand Russia or Putin is depreciated, one does not even have to dispute with a “Russlandversteher” on a factual basis.
But that is exactly what Gabriele Krone-Schmalz is trying to do. A sensible foreign policy requires that one debates the others’ interests. However, it is not in the interest of the West (the USA) for Germany and Russia to converge and cooperate. A current example is the US government’s attempt to prevent Nord Stream 2.
She considered the statement of the new CDU chairman Kramp-Karrenbauer to be extremely questionable, that Germany must also develop a military option with regard to Russia. She warned against pushing ahead in this direction. Russia rightly feels rejected and threatened by the NATO-East expansion and the defensive missiles stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. It would be easy to replace such defensive missiles with attack missiles.
The overwhelming majority of the German population is in favour of a good relationship with Russia, but the published opinion and politics do not take note of this. Krone-Schmalz sees therein a danger for the political system in Germany.
During the last half hour, visitors had the opportunity to ask questions and get involved. A listener raised his hand and addressed the town twinning of Villingen-Schwenningen with Tula. Ms. Krone Schmalz gladly took up this topic. She sees the expansion and active shaping of lively town twinnings with Russia as an important countermeasure to the current policy towards Russia.    •

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