Tuesday, October 3, 2023

For Russia, German reunification is now illegal

For Russia, German reunification is now illegal Article by Lars Wienand • 30 min. New history book For Russia, German reunification is now illegal German-German jubilation: People celebrate in front of the Brandenburg Gate on October 3, 1990. Thirty-three years later, a Russian history book proclaims that reunification was illegal. Russia is rewriting its history – in school textbooks. There are absurd depictions of German reunification that are already being used for propaganda. The "Day of German Unity" throws Russian students into a tailspin when they turn to a new history book for explanation: There is a wild mix of depictions of the reunification of the two German states. Putin has history reinterpreted and the unity declared illegal because it serves his argument. Since last week, Kremlin-critical and pro-Ukrainian channels have been making fun of what is written on page 77 of the new history book for eleventh graders at Russian high schools: "In October 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany was annexed to the German Democratic Republic." An annexation of the Federal Republic to the GDR? The person responsible and co-author, the former Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinski, is met with ridicule: "With his miracle textbook, Medinski has opened a new chapter in historical science," says the Telegram channel "Polit Circus", which has 100,000 subscribers. GDR is portrayed as a victim of takeover The wording is probably not intended that way and is due to the sloppily worded text in the new flagship book. Because in the chapter it becomes clear that the GDR is actually the victim of a takeover. The term аншлюс used for connection can also mean annexation, but above all it is the almost literal translation of the German word into Cyrillic and in Russia stands for the annexation of Austria to Hitler's Germany in 1938. Instead of a word for reunification, a connection to the expansion of the Nazi Reich elected. According to the new interpretation, reunification is even illegal. This is what the new history book says literally: "In August 1990, the People's Chamber of the GDR, without holding a referendum, made the illegal decision to abolish the constitution of the GDR, abolish its state organs and join the Federal Republic of Germany." In fact, the decision was democratically legitimized and the pressure from the population was great. In the first and last free election, 93.4 percent elected the representatives of the GDR People's Chamber, who then decided with an overwhelming majority to join the scope of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany on October 3rd. When the day came and there was a big celebration, the victorious powers had of course given their blessing for reunification: In September, the "Two-plus-Four Treaty on the final settlement with regard to Germany" was concluded - in Moscow and also signed by the USSR. “Brainwashing in full swing” The historian Hubertus Knabe, long-time director of the Hohenschönhausen Stasi Memorial, is "horrified at how history is being rewritten in Russian school textbooks. The brainwashing is in full swing." After the mass murderer Stalin had already been made a hero and the "reunification" with Crimea was being celebrated, "the GDR's accession to the Federal Republic was now also illegal." Putin apparently wants to raise a new, obedient generation free of Western influences, as he did under Stalin. History according to Putin's taste: In the new history book for eleventh graders, reunification is presented in a completely distorted manner. In the previous history book, the German reunification story was conveyed differently, as the "Deutsche Welle" reports: Students learned about the peaceful revolution out of dissatisfaction with the deep political crisis in the GDR. According to the Ministry of Education in Moscow, the new book is a fifth cheaper than the old one at 849 rubles (around 8.20 euros). This is possible because the state now holds all rights. The period from 1970 to the early 2000s has now been completely rewritten and the period since 2014 has been included again - i.e. the period of the Russian annexation of Crimea, the conflict and invasion of Ukraine. Soldiers who fought in Ukraine should now also come to the classes. The curriculum for tenth and eleventh graders, to whom the four volumes of the new history textbook are aimed, now includes not only training on the Kalashnikov assault rifle and first aid as well as information on two types of grenades. Soldiers from the Ukrainian front are also supposed to instruct students in survival and patriotism.