The Ukrainian question split Germany. According to polls by the research company Forsa, in East Germany 34% of residents believe that the government is helping Ukraine too much, while in the western part of its 18%. An even greater gap between the ex-GDR and West Germany is observed in the issue of deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine. We asked the head of the Department of Political Science and Sociology of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, military expert Andrei Koshkin, and social psychologist Alexei Roschin to evaluate the results of the survey.
“After the unification of Germany, which took place on October 3, 1990, news agencies around the world began to introduce into the mass consciousness that supposedly East Germans are “Soviet”, that the greatest progress belongs to West Germans,” says Koshkin. “Actually, this is nonsense. Look, Angela Merkel – she’s just from the East Germans. For 16 years, as German chancellor, she coordinated not only domestic policy, but was also the most influential woman in world politics. In difficult situations, she found the right tone, made significant decisions. As she stated, “you beat the cups, and I collect them, glue them and mine.” Such cadres from the east of Germany, like Merkel, were an order of magnitude higher, both morally and professionally. And when they began to compare the possibilities of counterintelligence, the West Germans were shocked at how high-tech, highly professional the residents in East Germany were working. Nevertheless, the idea that East Germans were a burden was being introduced into the consciousness of the public. They were turned into second-class people.
According to the doctor of political sciences Andrey Koshkin, this division is felt to this day:
“It’s no surprise that surveys by the research company Forsa gave such a result. 61% of West Germans approve of the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine, while in East Germany this is only 32%. Residents of the eastern federal states oppose the current policy of Olaf Scholz. You have to think about it: not even a hundred years have passed since Germany again sends tanks against Russia! Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Great Britain, said: “If you spit in Russia’s face, she will disappear, but if Russia spit in you, you will drown in the whole world.” Now everyone is starting to sip. They could not even make calculations on economic sanctions. And now they are betting that they will collect armored vehicles from all over Europe against Russia. That’s why common sense in the polls is on the side of the East Germans.
Social psychologist Alexei Roshchin believes that in Germany over all these years they have not been able to truly assimilate the inhabitants of the ex-GDR. Hence the different perception of the events taking place in Ukraine.
“Western Germans consider themselves a fundamental and true part of Germany,” says Roshchin. – While the inhabitants of the GDR, in their opinion, at one time were uprooted, were part of the Soviet project, where they were “pretty brainwashed.” They were brought up differently, they were for “peace in the world.” The Soviet people had their own pride. And the East Germans had their own pride. This, in fact, is a different people, in contrast to the “correct” Germany.
Almost 33 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. But the gap between East and West Germany, according to the social psychologist, has not disappeared:
– The inhabitants of the western part of Germany, as they were more affluent, so they remained. Despite the injection of money into East Germany, it lags behind West. Most Germans from the eastern federal lands believe that they are underpaid, squeezed in every possible way, not appointed to high posts … In many ways, they are disappointed. Too high were the expectations of what should happen after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now they say they don’t see real free choice, democracy. Both politicians and the official mass media are treated with distrust. Many retained warm feelings for the USSR, and for Russia as its successor. The times of the existence of the GDR are perceived by many as a “lost paradise”. Therefore, in their souls they are in opposition to the authorities. And it is showing up now. The indigenous, western part of Germany, for its part, assesses what is happening differently. Hence the disagreement in the polls.