In the midst of a wrenching war, cracks in our society are being revealed. In the northeastern German city of Lubmin, the mayor initially issued instructions this week not to accept refugees from Ukraine into the town. Otherwise, attacks on critical infrastructure are to be feared. This refers to the “Nord Stream 1” gas pipeline, which pumps 60 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year to Germany. Despite Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, this business continues. And apparently he shouldn’t be bothered by people who need war.
Much of the infrastructure in eastern Germany depends on Russia. Political action and collective thought show a widely cultivated closeness to war tyrant Vladimir Putin, as must now be recognizable to those who downplayed his terrorist bombings in Syria and annexation of Crimea. However, Russia still has a kind of bonus in parts of East German society. Because in reality?
The entanglements of East German politics can hardly be unraveled
First, there are economic interests. The structurally weak East kept all doors open to Russian investors. The Brandenburg state chancellery has already become a kind of Russian consulate with the father of the state, Manfred Stolpe. The tangles can hardly be disentangled. The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig, is hastily liquidating her so-called climate foundation, which was supposed to help avoid sanctions for companies that helped build “Nord Stream 2”. Saxony’s prime minister, Michael Kretschmer, made the offer in Moscow in 2021, but received only a phone call with Putin instead of a meeting; the image of an errand boy appeared. Now Kretschmer explains almost in Kremlin fashion: “The blocking of gas supplies must be mutually exclusive as a means of exerting pressure in this current conflict.” After all, he has now withdrawn and no longer understands the world.
Not to mention the AfD, which is strong in the East and whose anti-democratic slogans are being spread by Putin’s troll factories. And the left, in which Sahra Wagenknecht Putin speaks not only of western import according to the mouth of the propaganda. The confessions of the SED era that the United States and NATO are the true enemies of peace live on. The party must be honest after the narrowest possible entry into the Bundestag, otherwise it will fail on its own.
Many GDR citizens were closer to Moscow than to Munich
Its own fragile history continues to shape Russia’s image in the East: the Soviet Army’s victory over Nazi Germany, the first flight into space, and decades of academic anti-Americanism. The citizens of the GDR went on vacation to the Soviet Union, learned their beloved Russian and were closer to Moscow than Munich. Mikhail Gorbachev also had a positive effect, as the last Foreign Minister of the GDR, Markus Meckel, correctly analyzed: The “Gorbi”, which is still popular today, enabled the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe and German unity. After that, there were disappointments with the West. The loss of hope for unity is reflected in continued strong skepticism about democracy, right-wing election results, and mass coronavirus protests. The cracks in society run deeper in the East.
In the midst of war, one must not lose sight of the essential: the Russian dictatorship is campaigning against democracy. In Eastern Europe, Putin has long been a hated imperialist. Just as the Soviet Union once represented the hated communists who crushed the popular uprisings of June 17 in East Berlin and 68 in Prague. Russia wants to bomb itself back to that Soviet era. East Germany in particular has to admit this truth.