Streetwise Professor

May 11, 2015

Merkel in Moscow: A Laudable Sentiment, A Misguided Message, and a Lost Opportunity

Filed under: History,Military,Russia — The Professor @ 7:17 pm

Angela Merkel tried to walk a thin line on VE Day. She traveled to Russia, but did not attend the atavistic, militaristic, and jingoistic parade on the 9th. Instead, along with Putin, she laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the 10th. She also met with Putin, and criticized him for Crimea and Donbas.

Merkel said this to explain her visit:

“We cannot close the book on our history,” Ms. Merkel said in her weekly video message May 2. Despite deep differences with Russia over Ukraine, she said, “it is important for me to lay a wreath on May 10 together with the Russian president in remembrance of the millions of dead for which Germany is responsible from World War II.”

Those are laudable sentiments, but she could have done things differently, and better. Indeed, her Russian-centric approach is deeply flawed, and has implications for current events.

Ukraine and Belarus suffered far more, proportionally, than did Russia during WWII. Not that Russia got off lightly. Clearly not. But in terms of loss of life, and in terms of German war crimes, Ukraine and Belarus were ground zero.

Merkel could have and should have gone to Kiev to participate in Ukraine’s far more restrained and somber commemoration. She should have laid a wreath there, in remembrance of the millions of dead in Ukraine for which Germany is responsible. Then she could have gone to Moscow on the 10th.

By going to Moscow only, and not Kiev, she implicitly accepted Russia’s assertion that it is the heir to the Soviet Union; that to Russia is due the honor and the glory for defeating the Nazis; and that Germany owes apologies to Russia, or that at least Russia accepts apologies on behalf of all other ex-Soviet peoples. This implicitly subordinates Ukraine, Belarus and other former-SSRs to Russia. By going to Russia only, she implicitly stated that Russia is the first among nations spawned from the collapse of the USSR, and that the others are inferiors.

This is a particularly dangerous message to be sending now, when Russia is quite explicitly attempting to subordinate these other nations by force, economic pressure, and subversion. Merkel is effectively validating Putin’s belief that Ukraine is not a “real country,” and that Ukraine’s independence is illegitimate and a historical injustice.

By visiting Kiev, Merkel could have sent a very different message. She could have paid homage to those that Germany victimized from 1941-1945, while also saying that the lesson and legacy of the Second World War should be that large aggressive nations should not dominate small and weak ones.  Should could have implicitly upbraided Putin, given support to those he wants to dominate, and made amends for wrongs that Germany inflicted on non-Russians.

Merkel walked a thin line, but she could have walked a much better one.

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  1. Germany today is not the same as Nazi Germany of the 1930’s and 1940’s

    Germany today does not seek the legitimacy of its government from Nazi roots.

    Russia today is exactly the same as the Russia of the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, etc.

    Russia today seeks its legitimacy from stalinist – fascist – roots of terror, dictatorship, fear, threats, intimidation and force.

    Nazi Germany, not Germany, victimized millions.

    The Sovok Union victimized millions.

    Putler and his Kremlinoid thugs should have been remembering the victims not only of Nazi Germany, but also of the Sovok Union.

    After all, Nazi Germany and the Sovok Union collaborated together to invade and devastate Poland, before they decided to fight each other and create a vast Bloodlands in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Central and Eastern Europe.

    Today, Putler is trying to rehabilitate the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, by which the Sovok Union collaborated with the Nazis.

    This is the sick mentality exhibited by the Kremlinoid thugs and their front man, the fascist dwarf Putler.

    Germany has made reparations for Nazi Germany.

    Russia, which views itself as the heir to the sovok union, has not. Instead, Pukin and his Kremlinoid thugs invade other countries and create wastelands, so that Putler and his inner circle can continue to retain their thug autocracy and their vast wealth.

    You know – for the “greater glory” of Oily orthodox Moozer Rasha.

    Comment by elmer — May 12, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  2. Merkel also got “edited” by the Russians in the process:

    “We achieved cooperation between NATO and Russia,” Merkel said. “Due to the criminal and illegal, under international law, annexation of Crimea and the military conflicts in eastern Ukraine, this cooperation has suffered a serious setback.”

    The word “criminal,” however, was excised in real-time by the Russian-language interpreter at the press conference. Those listening exclusively to the interpreter were given the impression that Merkel considers the takeover of Crimea only a “violation of international law.”

    Comment by Ivan — May 14, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

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