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Aug 9, 2022
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Wiener Zeitung: West against Russia – what is allowed to an Austrian is death to a German

Wiener Zeitung: West against Russia - what is allowed to an Austrian is death to a German

Photo: IMAGO/Wolfgang Maria Weber/TASS

Despite dramatic, often tragic events in Ukraine, support for the Kremlin in German-speaking countries is still high. Why? You can’t figure it out without a bottle, as a last resort you need to write an essay, says a young German journalist Gerhard Lechner. The words about “strange German love for Russia” in the title of his article made some of our publications interpret the reflections of the editor of the Wiener Zeitung newspaper as a statement about the high level of sympathy for our country in Germany and Austria.

Among the inhabitants of these countries, discontent is brewing due to the economic consequences of anti-Russian sanctions. Inflation is on the rise, gas is in short supply and prices are outrageous. All this reduces the enthusiasm for Ukraine. Many see the president of the independent Vladimir Zelensky as an instigator of the conflict, interfering with the establishment of peace and the usual order. Therefore, they say, the level of support for both Russia in general and its President Vladimir Putin in particular is high.

However, according to political scientist Timofey Borisovthere is nothing surprising in the article:

– Firstly, we are talking about support and friendship between Russia and Germany in connection with the demonstrations that took place starting on February 24, and there were several of them. They regularly take place on Sundays in a particular German city. But these marches of friendship with Russia are carried out mainly not by native Germans, but by former Soviet citizens who, among other things, came from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. So it is not entirely correct to speak of “German performances.”

Secondly, such a phenomenon nevertheless exists, because these citizens have German passports, and their demonstrations are quite numerous – it is impossible not to notice them. But if in Germany itself they are commented only in a negative way, then in Austria there are enough forces that, looking from the outside, are trying to sort things out objectively.

I remind you that the article was not published in the German press, but in the Austrian one. And Wiener Zeitung is not a central publication, like the largest and most authoritative Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung. This is a regional newspaper. In any case – the second plan, and Austria itself is a small republic.

But the Austrians look at the Germans and notice everything that is going on with their neighbors. It is not surprising to me that they are trying to understand this phenomenon. These are the reflections of an honest man, a professional journalist who is struggling to understand what is happening in Germany.

“SP”: – But the article is not limited to this. This, as they say now longread, in which whole layers of history rise. In particular, the author argues that Russia is a projection of Prussian Germany, just as Germany is a reflection of Russia. Both countries began to develop quite late compared to other European countries, France and Britain.

– This is the author’s point of view, about which there is no point in discussing, because an inquisitive young man who has the right to his opinion writes. In addition, I repeat, this is not a German, but an Austrian, and how he understands German history is his own business. This point of view was published not in a headline, popular publication in Germany, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or in Der Spiegel, but in an ordinary Austrian newspaper, although not a tabloid.

Personally, I don’t understand what he was trying to put into his reasoning at all? His philosophical and historical parallels do not touch me at all. For me, another thing is important, that the Austrians are still trying to understand what is happening. They notice certain phenomena, believe that they are worthy of study. Everything else is up to the author.

But sometimes you can listen to the opinion of young people. So, for example, an Austrian observer believes that in the past six months the Ukrainian flag has flickered everywhere, creating the impression that the West “stands shoulder to shoulder against the policy of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin“. But even a cursory browsing of the Internet shows that this impression is deceptive. Yes, governments can do whatever they want, but the population is outraged.

Previously, the United States was clearly more popular in Europe than the Soviet Union, and then Russia. But this dull, rational, materialistic, senseless, “technoid world of the West” has long begun to annoy many people. And what to oppose to him? Maybe a small “green” Annalen Burbockor you can – huge Russia with its expanses. A couple of times they tried to break into it on tanks – it didn’t work out. But there is another possibility – to take your reliable Volkswagen and go there with peaceful intentions, just to live without touching anyone – something like that.

And yet you should not rejoice violently at more or less objective, in-depth information regarding Russia, because perhaps a simple public, both German and Austrian, will not fully master the popular science opus. And they will think at the same time with the words of Dashenka from Chekhov’s play “The Wedding”: “They want to show their education and always talk about the incomprehensible.” Only politicians, the aforementioned Annalena with Robert Habekcan speak the language of simple burghers and their wives.

Political scientist, professor, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Financial University Alexander Shatilov recalls that for one pro-Russian article in the West there are a thousand anti-Russian ones:

– To be honest, the main intellectual elite of the West is lured, included in the ruling establishment and performs the prescribed functions. Plus, many of the Western intellectuals are influenced by neo-libertarianism, an ideology that runs counter to traditional Russian and classical European values. Therefore, at the ideological, intellectual, almost at the genetic level, they have a negative attitude towards our country, people and leadership. After all, we oppose their priorities with our own, directly opposite ones.

Most of the Western intellectuals are anti-Russian. At least those who speak in the public sphere. It is very important to understand that someone can support Russia, but he is not allowed to reach the media. Such a person can write somewhere in his blog in support of Russia and against modern Western civilization. Well, at the same time, he will have a thousand subscribers, and this does not make the weather.

Western elites clearly manage this, both by administrative means and with the help of overt and covert prohibitions. In addition, anti-Russian rhetoric is financially stimulated.

“SP”: – In addition, this author is a young man. For example, he recalls that the young Joseph Goebbels, also a German intellectual of the 1920s, by the way, was at first against Hitler’s plans to attack the East, because he loved Russia and its culture very much. But then he grew up and his views changed. It all ended very badly for him. Approximately the same can be said about the modern “Goebbels”, such as Arestovich.

– As for the Ukrainian elite, it is very muddy and multifaceted, and “who is xy”, we will see only after the victorious, I hope, completion of the special operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.

Once upon a time, Germany, one might say, fertilized Russia with the communist ideas of Karl Marx, and now, in the opinion of the Austrian, the next step is the “rational state” of Immanuel Kant, well organized and efficient, emerging in Russia, a real role model.

This is on the one hand. And on the other hand, the seething, indefinite, border-breaking, intoxicating, contemplative, mystical Russian soul, which, in turn, can enrich the stingy “German essence”. In general, everything is difficult, but interesting.

And in short, Russia for the Germans can be defined in two words: fear and charm. The “giant empire in the east” has always been alien to them, but at the same time mysterious, and therefore alluring, igniting the imagination and arousing an interest that has never been experienced in Russia, for example, by its closest neighbors, the Poles. In addition, those are Catholics, and most Germans have a Protestant mentality, they have nothing to share with the Orthodox.

From Moscow, everything looks different. Here is the attitude towards the West since the reforms of Peter the Great as a rival and double. The West is a role model, to the level of which people aspired to reach. And there was also a desire to fly ahead of the locomotive of progress, which sometimes happened – when the first satellite was launched, and so on. The West seemed ideal, but… alien. There was always resistance, rejection. And now Russia, as always, is building its identity in the traditions of the “Third Rome” as a conservative antithesis of the radical liberal “geyrope”, writes an Austrian journalist – well, just our man.

At the same time, after reading, the “enemy voices” of the Soviet era are recalled. There, in addition to stupid Russophobic propaganda, there must be either a pleasant Sergey Dovlatovor bright Victor Nekrasov – for the sake of interest, for the appearance of objectivity.

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