When I read a few days ago that 196 of the 293 battle tanks that Western governments have already delivered to Ukraine or intend to deliver in the near future are coming directly from Germany1 – in addition to battle tanks of German production from other countries for which the German government has granted export licences – I asked myself again: How is it possible that a German government – 80 years after a war of extermination against the peoples of the Soviet Union waged with the utmost brutality and 80 years after Stalingrad and Kursk – does such a thing: to wage war against Russia again on the front line? Without having been attacked or threatened! To wage war by means of Ukrainians who are giving their lives by the tens of thousands for a war that brings their country nothing but death and destruction. A war in which people with the same history are now shooting at each other, people who have lived together peacefully for decades.
Not a “Zeitenwende”
There is the view that the Western war against Russia is being waged by the USA, that the European states are just vassals under pressure, taking part (rather unwillingly) in this war – against their own interests.
I think that this view must be put into perspective. For Central European states like Poland and the Baltic states, their own anti-Russian reflex is obvious. Their current governments are entirely on a war course. Is the German government now starting to escalate German great power politics and to wage war in the process – very much with its own interests in mind? And is this perhaps not a “Zeitenwende” (turning point) after all, but a policy that has been emerging step by step since the German “reunification” with its “Berlin Republic” – and also in the years before that, during the old Federal Republic?
Here are just a few key words:
German great power and war policy for more than 30 years
Sure: it never were the Germans as a whole who did this, nor the German power elites as a whole. Chancellors Kohl and Schröder and weighty parts of the SPD, for example, did not go for confrontation with Russia, but for economic (and political) advantages from a good relationship with this country and its government. There were also such interests in the German economy. But weren’t these – in the long run – just side-tracks?
War mongers in Berlin
Then the attempts to convince the German government with arguments that Russia is waging a war in defence of Russians and Russia against a Ukraine that has been made willing to go to war and, above all, against an aggressive West, and that those responsible in Ukraine have step by step – even before 24 February 2022 – been establishing an extremely nationalist dictatorship that has nothing to do with “freedom”, “rule of law” and “democracy”3 cannot bear fruit either. For the real war mongers are not only sitting in Washington, but also in Berlin. World War II has already shown that fascist regimes can be used for wars. Hitler’s anti-Bolshevism was not just a German thing. History can repeat itself in new constellations.
This time, German politics has managed to avoid a two-front war as in the First and Second World Wars. With massive disinformation and propaganda, they have managed to make large parts of the German population believe that they are helping an innocently (“unprovoked”) attacked small country that is fighting for nothing more than a life in freedom and democracy – against an overpowering and dictatorially led, inhuman aggressor. They wanted nothing more than peace, wanted to avoid any escalation, but now must do everything to make the “aggressor” lose its “brutal war of aggression” (“create peace with more weapons”).
The fact that this disinformation and propaganda can be effective with many people in Germany is also because old, deep-seated prejudices against Russia and the Russians are being served – many times more strongly in the West than in the East of the country. The fact that the clocks tick differently in the East is shown by the many voices against the war from this part of the country which do not come from “extremists” (see also box).
Is there an outlook?
On 8 April 2023, RT DE headlined: “Why the West deserves a punch in the face.” It would be better if in the West, if especially in Germany, not just a few but millions of citizens actively got behind a call like that of the Berlin Peace Conference “Dialogue, not weapons – peace with Russia” (cf. “Let’s dare more humanity!”). But time is running out for this.
The question of Germany’s role in Europe is of central importance. The much-heard demand that Europe should break away from the USA and follow an independent path in world politics can only make sense if this independent path is defined as a path of international law, of equal rights for all states and peoples, of cooperation and peace. In this respect, very critical questions must be asked of German politics over the past 30 years. These questions also go to other European states. But especially to Germany, because since the financial crisis of 2008 at the latest, Germany has claimed the “leadership” in EU Europe and has not been very squeamish in its treatment of other European states. Many still remember former Finance Minister Steinbrück, who in 2009 threatened to send the cavalry towards Switzerland, and the German dictates in the euro crisis since 2010 (Volker Kauder, parliamentary group leader CDU/CSU in the German Bundestag, 2011: “Now [...] Europe is speaking German.”).
Most likely the truth is: conditions in Germany have to change fundamentally, otherwise also a Europe without the US will not be a supporter of peace. •
1 https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/2023/deutschland-liefert-zwei-drittel-der-fast-300-westlichen-panzern-fuer-kiew/ of 5 April 2023
2 Hardly remembered today it was the German Defence Minister Volker Rühe (CDU) who pushed for NATO’s eastward enlargement from 1993 onwards, initially against the objections of the then US President Bill Clinton, and that in the years 1993–1994, which were decisive years for the eastward enlargement, Rühe’s predecessor in office, the CDU politician Manfred Wörner, was NATO Secretary General.
3 Cf. for example most recently https://globalbridge.ch/in-der-ukraine-wird-unter-dem-laerm-des-krieges-eine-oligarchische-diktatur-errichtet/ of 2 April 2023 and https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=96200&pdf=96200 of 11 April 2023
Dear Sir or Madam.
We, the Alliance of Saxon Entrepreneurs, would like to address you with this open letter today.
We are an association that has set itself the task of representing the interests of Saxon companies on the basis of the Basic Law, while upholding democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law. Currently, more than 300 entrepreneurs belong to our association, representing several thousand jobs mainly in the small and medium-sized business sector in Saxony. As different as the industries are in which we are all active, we are nevertheless united by our concern for the future of our companies and thus also by our concern for the future of our families and our homeland.
We are committed to all conceivable measures aimed at restoring normal conditions in Saxony – conditions that are not characterised by war, sanctions, agitation and paternalism and that allow us to work diligently as usual and to live peacefully without stoking fear.
Unfortunately, we currently see the danger that our federal government is probably doing everything possible to intensify the danger of war for the whole of Europe. We as a business association, as entrepreneurs and as people do not agree with this! It is completely incomprehensible for us how it can be possible that a country, which has already punished itself and the whole world twice with a world war, now ignites again and thus conjures up the danger of a further, large conflict. We openly oppose this aggressive policy of the German government and call on all parties involved in the conflict to seek and find peaceful and diplomatic solutions! None of us wants to put the existence of his company, his employees, his family and his own person at risk just to satisfy geopolitical dictates from overseas.
We German entrepreneurs from the small and middle class are a peaceful people. We reject any conflict that is carried out with weapons! Weapons always mean that people die. We stand up for life – for a peaceful life together and next to each other! We wish peaceful coexistence and cooperation within Germany, but especially between Germany and Russia. We want to continue to trade peacefully together for mutual benefit. We do not want to lose our sons and daughters, nor our employees in a warlike conflict!
Therefore, we strongly appeal to all parties to work together and diplomatically for the peaceful well-being of our peoples and to stop any warlike action as well as arms deliveries immediately!
With peaceful greetings
Frank Liske & D. Jörg List,
Board of Directors ASU Alliance of Saxon Entrepreneurs
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