The continuous propaganda for Greater Germany proved it´s efficiency by the fact that developments in south-eastern Ukraine haven’t been seen as what they might well be — the reunification of an artificially divided nation.
At least that is what the events of October 3, 1989 in Germany were called.
And so we must ask ourselves : how can it be, that we Germans are supposed to have felt an indomitable will for reunification, even if the statehood that was to be reunited had existed for just 74 years (until 1871 there were many German statelets but not the German State) and had disappeared 40 years ago, with gigantic colateral effects upon the rest of the planet — and yet, nobody expresses the thought that citizens of the former Soviet Union, which existed for more or less the same time as the German Reich up to 1945, might harbour the same wish for reunification, 23 years after a split that took place against the will of the people?
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Because if we look at it from this angle, all arguments regarding the Crimea, et al become invalid. How could a wish for reunification be denied?
In other words, why should it be more noble and reasonable to recombine the remains of a German Reich which, as is well known, was responsible for two world wars and where the Berlin wall obviously served as a plug in Dracula’s heart (as soon as it was gone, the monster awoke to a new life), than to recombine the remnants of the Soviet Union?
No, there is a simple and rather uncomfortable reason why this perspective doesn’t exist — because the idea of German nationhood is still based on the premise of “ein Volk”. It is based on the idea of descent. Thus, Ukrainian fascism is swallowed whole, without gagging, and no one applies the concept of reunification to the Crimea or the Donbass.
When Germany was reunited, the western anticommunist interpretation of the Soviet Union as “prison of the peoples” was officially endorsed. Because all those people who wouldn’t be a nation based on bloodlines must have been forced into it. And after the downfall of their state they were expected to resort themselves into clear bloodlines.
In Bavaria the expression “Saupreiss” (Prussian pig) is still a curse. This tells us something about free will at the moment of unification in 1871.
Actually, in Germany itself the version of statehood based on descent is more recent. In 1913, at the onset of World War I, a law of nationality passed by the German Parliament referred to the German State, not the kingdoms and duchies within it, and introduced the idea of “German blood” into the legal system. This premise of “German blood” became the basis for war with neighbouring countries in the decades to follow. (It should be noted that up until 1975 in BRD, blood lines could be transmitted only through sperm, as children of a German father and a foreign mother were considered German, but not children of a German mother and a foreign father).
Therefore — aside from this specifically German anomaly — on what basis should a wish for reunification by the population of Crimea and the Donbass or any other former Soviet Republic be criticized when the desire for reunification of Germany was never connected with the longing for an new German Reich? (A desire the ruling class in the west certainly had, but not the masses in the east.) Or, conversely, if what happened on Crimea cannot be considered a reunification, then the suggestion the German newspaper FAZ made to “return the GDR to Russia” — a suggestion made to ridicule a recent call for peace signed by 60 elder statesmen, -women and artists — should be followed through. Because then the German event of 1989 wasn’t a reunification either, it was against international law and should be reversed.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind that, as long as it’s guaranteed that Ms Merkel and I will be on opposite sides of the resurrected Wall.
But back to the original theme. Oddly, nobody in Germany puts the nationhood of the USA into question. Even though its law of nationality isn’t based on descent. And that’s not because it is the exceptionalist USA; Brazilian nationhood is also accepted despite the diverse ethnicity of its population.
Why then is a similar point with regard to the Soviet Union so unthinkable that it never surfaces as a possible argument? Throughout all the past months, I have never, ever read the word reunification.
Probably it is because the real story of German “reunification” — in contrast to that of Crimea — is a story of annexation whereby the GDR was treated like an occupied country, down to the occupation of administrative positions. Therefore the word “reunification” may only be used in an atmosphere saturated with incense, to be returned to its showcase soon afterwards so as not to suffer damage from too much oxygen. This annual act of national pathos plasters over what was an act of violence. It has the same character as the Ukro-fascist mythologies — pathos to cover up an act of violence, the end of the Soviet Union, and twist it into an imaginary liberation.
And of course, because Germany is already more than challenged by a republican idea of nationality, that simply includes all people living inside it’s borders (one may recall the awful campaign against dual citizenship in the state of Hessen which raised a lot of racist dust) — how should it cope with someting like a Soviet nation. Or even with what we might call its historical shadow.
Yes, I think I will stay with this concept — it fits well, the seams come together nicely. No problem if it pinches a bit.
I’m humble and abstain from words like “eternal, indivisible”. But doesn’t it sound nice, just to say it: all citizens of the former Soviet Union have at least the same right to wish a reunification with other parts of the former Soviet Union as the Germans had with their two parts (even if it might have been better for the world if……). That they have this right not only in the form of a departure, but even by taking along their territory.
(I am imagining Ms Merkel, counting the months, trying to differentiate between former Soviet Republics, until someone whispers “Saarland” into her ear, or “Ruhrgebiet” so that, frightened, she drops the paper clips she was using to count the months……because it can’t be that the Soviet Union has existed longer than the German Reich as it was before 1945 ….where would that lead, especially for herself, whom nobody would want back as secretary of agitation and propaganda?)
Crimea was not annexed. Nor was this about a secession. Crimea reunited with another part of the former Soviet Union. Other parts may possibly do the same in the future.
Dagmar Henn is a social services professional, she is a former member of the Munich City Council for Die Linke (“The Left’”), formed from a fusion of the former ruling party of the German People’s Republic, the Socialist Union Party, with a left-wing split from the Social Democratic Party.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.