War is bringing back old enemy images, and that's not good
It is the second week of the Russian war of aggression. Ukraine fights and bleeds, but does not fall. War brings back old enemy images. It pushes us out of our comfort zone. A lot comes under scrutiny, and that includes the blog. We have to rethink, one of our projects will probably be postponed. Because the war in Europe changes everything. More than we care to admit. But we have to be careful. Falling back into old enemy images is dangerous.
The ghosts of the past
Both of my grandfathers were very different personalities. Politically, they were in opposite camps, and the fact that they had to get along with each other was probably an impertinence based on reciprocity. But what can't you take when it comes to family? But there was one thing they agreed on.
Nothing good ever comes out of Russia. Because that's where the enemy is.
As a child, I often heard that when the two old people were sitting together talking. What you heard as a child shapes you. Many years later, when I got into a Russian military convoy in Potsdam with my company car, it was there again. As a child in a garrison town, I knew the Americans. This GI, always relaxed, exuding superiority. With a smile on his face and chewing a gum. That was John Wayne and young Elvis in uniform.
And then the Russians. The complete opposite. Ill-fitting uniforms, grim-looking people. Beyond the friendly cowboys riding across the prairie. The military convoy, whose vehicles appeared menacing, burned something that might have been of fossil origin. In any case, it was ignitable and smelled pungently acrid.
So that was him. My grandfathers enemy.
Naturally. I am who I am. The result of my western heritage and my upbringing. Shortly before Christmas I was packing parcels for the East at the boarding school. So for the GDR. Because things were going badly there, coffee was scarce and toothpaste was not available. And chocolate, we were told, was out of the question. It went like that, year after year. Now and then a letter came back from the East. It confirmed everything we children had learned.
It wasn't good where the Russians were.
Luckily, the world moves on, and the generation after me in my family saw things differently about Russia. Through studying there were Russian friends. There were flights beyond the Urals, shared hobbies, and for a time, joint business plans.
That gave me hope. That the world learns and gets better. And that young people don't repeat old mistakes.
War brings back old enemy images
In retrospect, however, there must have been a point at some point when development took a wrong turn. There was Putin, who was a smart president for a while. Unlike its Soviet predecessors, more modern, more cosmopolitan. Was it all a facade or did we have an illusion that we wanted to see?
At some point, the president became the power politician who brutally walked over dead bodies. Georgia, Armenia, Syria. The rhetoric became more violent, more national, and discussions with Russian friends intensified. Soon there were no more flights over the Urals.
The war throws us back in development. Nothing gets better, quite the opposite. Old enemy images climb out of the grave, fears from the past creep into the present. These are not good prospects for the future.
Ukrainians defend their country. They probably defend a lot more. They are defending the Republic of Moldova (Moldova). A former Soviet republic that has a scenario similar to that of Ukraine. Maybe they also protect Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. The states could be next on the list of Soviet renaissance. The fear is there. And who can guarantee that the Russian president's hunger for land and power would be satisfied?
So we must support Ukraine. Anyway, everyone as he can. Maybe with monetary donations, with taking in refugees. A scenario we'll have to tackle if the war lasts longer.
And we should have further considerations. There is China, which does not condemn the Russian war. On the contrary! Which has a similar item on the agenda with Taiwan. Here, too, a small, democratic country is to be “brought back”. Just as we feed Putin money for his energy sources, we feed Xi by buying his products.
China is an undemocratic country that has been harassing its smaller neighbors by building islands in the South China Sea, building military bases on them and asserting territorial claims. As in the case of Russia, German politics has accepted Chinese ambitions for more than a decade without consequence.
Don't fall into old patterns of thinking
What we shouldn't do is fall into old ways of thinking. Don't adopt the enemy images of your grandfathers. There is no bad Russian or bad Chinese. This way of thinking sneaks in secretly. Anyone who carefully read the brief press releases from Germany this week will see the danger.
I dare say that the majority of the Russian people did not want and do not want aggressive war. Just as little as the Chinese people want to bring Taiwan home by force of arms.
What remains for us is to distinguish. Avoid buying Chinese products if possible. Not until Beijing takes a clear stand against the war. But state things clearly. Yes, it's war, it's an invasion, there's murder. It's not just Putin's war every day, which is a convenient verbal position of German politics.
With each passing day it becomes more and more a war of the Russian army, its generals and backers. That's the ugly truth that we have to deal with somehow. It's exhausting and demanding, and I'm sorry if I bother my readers with it on Sunday.
But one thing must be clear. There is no understanding of Putin and his motives. A war of aggression can never be excused.
Where do the images for the post come from? The images from Chernihiv come from the Northern Territorial Defense Force. Their authenticity has been confirmed by independent journalists. They show a residential area after a Russian attack on March 3rd.
IIn Chernihiv there was a lively Saab scene before the war. A Video We showed the Saab fans from peacetime a few days ago. We don't know what happened to the fans there. The contact failed, websites are offline.
Chernihiv is under fire from Russian troops preparing to wipe out the big city, like the Tagesspiegel schreibt.
9 thoughts on "War is bringing back old enemy images, and that's not good"
Thanks Tom for the thoughtful text.
There are currently 20 wars in the world. Each one is one too many. Now one is so close - and comes close to us. Perhaps also because we are now being rudely confronted with the fact that we are partly to blame for this war, in which our dependence on Russian energy sources fills Putin's war coffers every day; of human rights violations in China, because we would like to have everything as cheaply as possible. Whether it is really a good idea to do business with authoritarian regimes is a question that is overdue. And you could have answered them with a resounding no a long time ago. Our prosperity is also based on the fact that things are very bad elsewhere in the world. We prefer not to look too closely, now we have to. Are there lessons to be learned from this? Just yesterday I heard that a large German car manufacturer now wants to set up a plant for wiring harnesses in Turkey because the plant in the Ukraine cannot deliver. It still sounds like this: We all know how Turkey is governed, how human rights, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press are there. But it doesn't seem to prevent, even in the face of the current catastrophe, from looking past it when it comes to doing "good" business. I waver between speechlessness and being disgusted...
Thanks to you.
I also asked myself the question: Aren't other things more important than some things that seemed important just 14 days ago? Yes and no. If I go into shock, Putin has achieved what he originally wanted. To intimidate us with the image of the Siberian bear gone berserk. No, I won't allow that. But the list of priorities has changed. And the appreciation of some things.
My grandmother said – she is 90 and at the end of December 1944, at the age of twelve, she fled with her family from near Marienburg to north-west Germany – she had hoped that she would never, never have to experience anything like this in Europe again. And now it is. war, escape.
And there was a very interesting incident that my brother related to me. He works in a machine factory. A German from Russia works at the reception. He affectionately calls her the "Receiving Dragon". She is resolute. And then there's a worker, a "real" Russian, who up until Friday defended Putin's actions. He watches state television from Russia. As my brother said, he was incorrigible. Until, yes, until the reception dragon took him to his chest and showed him videos of the shelling of apartment buildings in Kyiv, Kharkiv, etc. He was silent, then horrified. The state television – and there it is one – had not shown him these pictures. It must have been a shock. He now fears for his nephews, who are currently serving in the Russian army. He had been wrong in his view.
And as long as there are moments, all is not lost. And hopefully we don't forget those Russians who are currently fleeing their homeland to Finland because they are afraid of developments in their own country.
Thanks Christian Arndt,
the story from the machine factory is encouraging. And she shows how important it is that we Russians in Germany do not exclude and do not hostile.
That would be Putin's narrative, the threat to Russia and every Russian. If Russian children are NOT bullied by classmates in German schoolyards, colleagues are not excluded, cars with Russian license plates are not scratched, Putin is refuted. Russians in Germany then have a completely different experience. No one is hostile to “the Russian”. Putin does not ward off any danger at all, but he himself is the danger ...
Russians who recognize this abroad can have a deep impact on their homeland as multipliers and through their family ties and contacts - not as "Western agents", but simply as Russians who believe in understanding and friendship and want peace.
Heavy fare on Sunday. Everything correctly described, we should not fall back into old schemes. I see the danger, and it would be tragic if that happened. We would be back in the cold war (which is no longer cold but war. And would have lost decades.
History doesn't repeat itself.
No, it does weigh on us - also with its old enemy images that it keeps ready - but it continues without repetition ...
The "verbal position of German politicians" that it is Putin's war may be a "convenient" one in some respects. But it is also good and right in its domestic and foreign policy effect. It is precisely this rhetoric that puts the bridle on old enemy images.
History repeats itself.
There is an interesting pattern that dictators have compulsively followed for centuries, even millennia. And it's reliably absolutely devastating for themselves, because they all reliably strive for a complete loss of reality by putting themselves exclusively with yes-men, carcass obedience in an artificial environment without contradiction.
They don't even know the end of their dictatorship and their personal fate a few days in advance. The list is long, all readers are probably aware of several examples. Here is just one exemplary and thoroughly typical end of a dictator: The great Saddam Hussein had been lying in a hole in the ground whimpering for days when he was arrested in an embryonic position...
To build the bridge back to Putin. He has long since organized his personal loss of reality, aligned his immediate environment accordingly, suppressed the public and the free press. Despite this, or precisely because of this, videos of Russian soldiers are now circulating, which are firstly classified as authentic and secondly bear witness to a clash between Putin and his troops.
According to the completely distorted reality and propaganda of Vladimir Putin, they thought they were on a harmless “manoeuvre”, but have now been at war for 9 days and haven’t eaten anything for 3 days.
Putin is suffering from a loss of reality and his troops are gradually arriving in reality. It is right and proper if we now only talk about Putin's war and if we lock away old enemy images in the archives...
History doesn't repeat itself. man learns. The unteachable need to be identified and isolated. It is Putin's war and it is Putin's personal loss of reality. The sooner this view prevails among the majority of Russians, the more connected they will feel to the Russian people, including their soldiers.
It's Putin's war. I find that not only convenient, but quite a valid view.
It's still Putin's war. But the Russian people become accomplices and perpetrators, the longer the killing takes. I'm counting on civil disobedience in Russia, which will make Putin give in. A faint hope, but a hope.
It's correct. The longer a people endures their dictator's loss of reality, the more guilt they bear upon themselves...
I share your view and hope. And maybe there is reason for hope? Difficult to classify the news. Independent confirmations are mostly missing. But if it's not mere propaganda, then there is actually discontent and sabotage within the Russian armed forces. I think that's damn good...
And if that were the case, man would have learned a surprising amount since WW II. And it would be Russians who would show us today what a positive difference disobedience makes and how many lives it can save. That would be great. We will see …
Even now, for me personally, certain Russians are the greatest heroes of this war. The children, mothers and grandmothers of Russia in prison who have demonstrated for peace are all heroes. I admire each and every one. Great people rewriting history. All heroes I want to thank on my knees...
"Yet," you say it...
Every new day of the war I miss a clear sign from the ranks of the Russian armed forces more painfully than the day before.
For example, a fighter pilot who would rather land behind the front lines or use the ejection seat there and let his MIG crash in a controlled manner than carry out a mission against civilians.
Tom had added a valuable comment on international law and jurisdiction under his first article towards the end of the discussion. Well worth reading, but probably only noticed by a few.
In fact, there are now investigators in Ukraine documenting war crimes and acts against humanity for prosecution. Members of the Russian Armed Forces may face arrest, prosecution and conviction for the rest of their lives.
Vladimir Putin (born October 7.10.1952, 70) is almost 40 years old. He doesn't have much left to lose. Young Russian soldiers have their whole lives ahead of them. They are slowly having to decide whether they will still be internationally wanted war criminals in 50 or XNUMX years, or whether they would rather turn their backs on an old man in good time today...
They could become heroes, celebrated internationally for life, recognized and thanked on their knees. Or they get a medal for "bravery" from Putin shortly before his end, because it was so incredibly brave not to oppose him and attack a hospital instead. Everything you and Tom say about it is true...
There is definitely only a small window of opportunity. Within this window, it is “still” Putin's war. Every shot, bomb and missile in his name, especially against civilians, closes that window - it's shrinking daily and even hourly. I still hope that very soon and in time we can celebrate a few heroes of humanity before it is definitely a Russian war that will damage Russia's relationship with the rest of the world well beyond Putin's lifetime...
It's not worth giving your life at the age of 20 for a 70-year-old, let alone the life of 5- and 10-year-old Ukrainians, to become a war criminal at the age of 20 or 30 for the rest of your life. Right now, Russians have a choice in the military. They can die, they can kill, they can be perpetrators or heroes for life. You have to decide as long as it is "still" Putin's war. Tomorrow it's their war too...
And when they stand before the international court in 20 years, there will certainly not be a 90-year-old Putin. There would be nothing and nobody to justify the air-to-ground missiles on the hospital, the kindergarten, the bakery or the nuclear power plant with the eastward expansion of NATO. Then only crimes against humanity are tried, which were often not compelling and were carried out even though one's own life was not directly threatened.
Pilots in single cockpits in particular will find it difficult to present their numerous (civilian) victims as a compelling and unalterable consequence. The first thing you should do is desert and refuse. They actually have it easier than anyone else. They certainly have the ideal getaway vehicles. So far, however, one has waited in vain for their humane gestures. Really sad …
Thank you for the moving thoughts and suggestions for Sunday. My personal ones could fill pages. About history, political failure, powerlessness, our own responsibility, or also personal experiences in the black and white reality of my socialist youth, which was shaped by “brotherhood” with Russia. However, I won't do it at this point. In the constant rollercoaster of emotions, I decided to do the little that was in my power to begin with. Personal and Saabigen has been put on hold. An aid project launched. My family living in Poland can use the financial donations directly on site. Many small drops may cool down the hottest stone a little.
The moral question of whether it is justifiable to devote myself to the "banalities" of life in these times, I answered "yes" again this morning. The personal queue will be processed starting tomorrow. I try to keep my thoughts, fears and speculations about what will happen next in check as much as possible. Since life keeps changing the script anyway.
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