Russo-german partnership: A museum exhibit. Part two of two

Genscher, Gorbachev, Kohl, 1990

Arnold Schölzel

in Junge Welt, November 9, 2015

Translated from German by Tom Winter

[Click here for part one]

The show at the Gropius-Bau is mainly on the essential acts and acts of State; many documents can be read in facsimile, originals are in display cases. Some individuals are presented who, in the opinion of the curator, symbolize German-Russian relations since the “confrontation” (term for the the German war of extermination 1941-1945): the film director Konrad Wolf, army interpreter and translator Eugenia Kazewa, the writers Heinrich Böll and Lev Kopelew, pop singer Helene Fischer from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, and others. 

Not represented are the everyday relations between tens of thousands of DDR and Soviet citizens, who were studying in the Soviet Union, or were professionally active, many of whom had a life partner from the other country.

Along with the known and familiar, there is the mostly forgotten Treaty of 1990. In view of the ignorance of Russia — well-maintained in the Federal Republic outside of industry — the exhibition could be instructive. However, this is affected by the fact, in both the old and the new Federal Republic the anti-communist treatment of history prevails. 

This can be seen in the nine temporal turning points that are set. This does not apply for the beginning, the capitulation of the Wehrmacht on 8 / 9th May 1945, which documents should be read in different languages.

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It also does not apply to the founding of the two German states in 1949, whose constitutions are side by side on a display board, but rather for the dates 8 to 14 September 1955: “West German state visit to Moscow.” Shortly before swearing in the first Bundeswehr contingents, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer attained the establishment of diplomatic relations and the release of almost 10,000 German “prisoners of war.” In reality it was almost exclusively Wehrmacht and SS members convicted of war crimes. 

Logically considered as the next cross-section: 13 August 1961, the “construction of the Berlin Wall.” The Soviet Union and East Germany at that time rightly regarded closing the border to West Berlin as a necessary measure in order to clamp down on the advancing political destabilization of Bonn, which risked war. 

The completion of the gas pipeline between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1970: was it marginal, or a turning point? Anything about the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) from 1975 up to the Two-plus-Four-Treaty of 1990 is skipped. 

The stationing of NATO short-range missiles and the mass mobilization entailing a deliberately induced high risk of nuclear war in Europe does not matter here. 

At the close of the exhibition: The strategic partnership of 2005 and the speech in the Bundestag by the Russian writer Daniil Granin on 27 January 2014, commemorating the day of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The exhibition could have put a little counterpoint to the prevailing ignorance of Russia and our media’s incitement to Russophobia. Instead, the prevailing view is victory in the Cold War. This is reminiscent of what the late Soviet diplomat Juli Kvitzinski once wrote: For Russian foreign policy, Germany was always the first choice, for Germany, Russia has always been only the second. And: Since the First World War, Germany has abided by no treaty.

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