Germany and Russia: The end of the honeymoon period?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L), French President Emmanuel Macron (C), Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) at the Normandy Four talks in Paris on 9 December 2019. Screenshot: tagesschau 

International, Op-ed

Article by: Colette Hartwich

Editor’s Note

The term schröderization or schroederization designates the coopting of a key political elite in an important position within a Russian state-owned energy entity, or, in a broader sense, it means co-opting and corruption of foreign political and/or business figures by hostile regimes.

The term is derived from the last name of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. While in office, he advocated the Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream and, in 2005, signed a deal to construct it. Later, just after stepping down as Chancellor, he became the chairman of the Nord Stream AG’s shareholder committee. Later in 2016, Mr. Schröder became the manager of the highly criticized expansion of the existing pipeline, Nord Stream 2 that is now sanctioned by the U.S.

Additionally, in 2017, the ex-Chancellor was employed as “an independent director of the board” of Russia’s biggest oil producer, Rosneft.

Why Germany is rich soil for Russian propaganda and manipulation? Historical myths about WWII and nostalgia of former GDR citizens for “good neighbors” play a role, German humanitarian and environmental assistant Colette Hartwich argues in her article that the Euromaidan Press team publishes below.

The author believes that after the recent assassination in Berlin and the disclosure of a Russian spy base camp in the French Alps, Germans have to do away with a number of dangerous myths about Russia.

The term “schröderization“ is well-known in German business and political circles, as it accurately describes how many influential Germans, who followed former-Kanzler Gerhard Schröder’s example, had accepted to be manipulated by Russian money and/or business contacts. The example of the Russian lobbying for Nord Stream II, which showed that of all EU countries Germany was the most reluctant to see the dangers of energy dependence on Russia for the whole of Europe, illustrates the many myths about Russia’s reality and intentions on which German policy has rested since the end of WWII.

Obviously, since the reunification of two Germanys, the influence of the soviet education and nostalgia of former GDR citizens played a role in German yearning for “good neighbors” kind-of-relationship with post-soviet Russia. Many Germans have the nostalgia of Russia as a “good neighbor,” especially those who had known the GDR. They see Russian “socialism” as a pleasant contrast to a US capitalist society. This “socialist dream” is why many Germans, including the political elites, never wanted to see the reality of either the Soviet Union or today’s highly Stalinist Russia.

Read also: Russian propaganda exploits German feeling guilt for attacking USSR – Yuriy Durkot

Both AFD and Die Linke, German right- and left-wing parties are mostly supported in the former GDR. Source: Financial times

This honeymoon phase is ending. The German “Bild” can shout aloud, “So mordete Putin in Berlin” (“This is how Putin killed in Berlin”). The danger is aggravated by the fact the suspect has had to move to a new prison so as not to be murdered in jail. This puts the safety conditions of Berlin in general in question.

We have also learned that Russia has discreetly operated a “spy nest” for a long time in the French Alps, with easy access to Switzerland. It is probable that the murder(s) of Skripals in the UK have been planned and organized from there.

As per usual, the Russian embassy and the Russian government have denied any involvement and refused to participate in the German investigation. German government expelled two so-called diplomats, no doubt spies, for the first time in years, taking a strong stand against Russia. The independent news website Bellingcat published what they assumed was the identity of the Russian killer.

To ensure their own safety, the German citizens at large and especially the German political elite have to do away with a number of dangerous myths about Russia. The first and most dangerous one is that of Russia being a victim of WWII and therefore a victim of Nazi-Germany.

As a matter of fact, as often pointed out by the historian T. Snyder, Russia and Nazi-Germany were both accomplices if not partners during WWII, up to the time when they both started competing over who would control and exploit Ukraine. To Snyder WWII was essentially a war over Ukraine, its cereals and people as slaves for two imperialistic regimes – Russia and Nazi-Germany.

Watch Snyder’s lecture “Ukraine: The End of Europe?”

The presence of the above-mentioned myths has been recently brought to light by the reaction of the Bundestag to Ukraine’s request for acknowledgment of Holodomor (Stalin’s man-made famine, which probably starved at least eight million Ukrainians) as Genocide. Many, if not all, pseudo-legal objections smacked of bad faith! As an example: Holodomor could not be acknowledged as Genocide because it precedes the UN Genocide Convention. However, the Holocaust also had preceded the UN Genocide Convention; nevertheless, it would have been difficult for Germany after the Nuremberg trials to deny the holocaust and the Nazi-Germany’s responsibility.

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The EU parliament has recently acknowledged that Russia and Germany are co-responsible for WWII: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact sealed that cooperation and together, without any declaration of war, Russia and Nazi-Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 starting the WWII. Ukraine and Poland, not Russia, were the main victims of this criminal cooperation.

It is also time for the EU in general and particularly Germany to realize that Ukraine is European: the war in eastern Ukraine in fact threatens all of Europe. Germany now realized, as had the UK in the case of Skripal poisoning, that Russia is also an internal threat to its security. Does France also know where the “spy nest” is located? Whose consulate in Moscow granted a visa to the suspected murderer of Berlin and why? A. Kramp-Karrenbauer rightly insisted on a stronger reaction to that murder. It only shows that Russia is a threat to all of Europe.

Colette Hartwich is a creator and founder of Hadassah Luxembourg, WEGA Aide Humanitaire a.s.b.l Luxembourg; Co-Founder of L’Ukraine and ALPHEE Paris. She has 40 years of experience in humanitarian and environmental assistance projects in 7 different countries all around the world: Philippines, Ukraine, Armenia among others. For more than 25 years she is educating and coaching in fields of microfinance, humanitarian and development assistance project drafting.


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