This post on the “Free Idel-Ural” forum became the starting point for describing my considerations.
“When ruzzians try to prove that they are against Putin, it looks something like this. Germany, the 1940s, Hitler is at war with the whole world. A random German living in Germany: I’m against Hitler, but Jews certainly suck; Hitler, of course, is wrong, but the lands we have occupied are our lands and those who wish to secede must be hanged; I am against Hitler, but Gestapo is doing everything right; I am against Hitler, but Germans must rule the world.”
I would like to discuss this allegorical analogy. Let’s start with Germany.
Germans have something superficial, something that is gone (National Socialism), and there is something core, something that remains for all time – discipline, hard work, good organization, although I do not idealize Germans.
A Ukrainian friend of mine from the city of Kropyvnytskyi described his homeland as a region of German colonists who had entered the place during the reign of Catherine the Great. He mentioned several local villages (their names did not survive in my memory), former German colonies. And he laughingly noted an interesting detail: all thieves, swindlers and horse thieves steered clear of these settlements, although houses were not locked there. The residents used a small piece of log to lock their houses so that everyone could see whether anybody was at home or not. And if anyone stealing a chicken, for example, was caught, he was stripped naked, tarred and feathered, the stolen chicken was hung around his neck, and the whole village dragged him with kicks and screams and hooting through the “dorf”/colony.
During World War II, all those Germans were interned in Kazakhstan or the Urals, although some managed to hide their nationality and go to fight – some for the Red Army and some for the Wehrmacht.
The author happened to meet several of the internees. Some of them were not very dignified, and some, on the contrary, proved to be honest and reliable comrades. The latter were in majority!
One more thing about Germans…
Once upon a time the author happened to go on a train to Leningrad in one compartment with an old, intelligent and wise man. He was on his way to see his grandson, a student. We got to talking…
The old man told me that in 1945, he, a 20-year-old senior lieutenant-signalman, was appointed mayor of a small German town. Soon the order came to prepare a local factory for relocation to the Soviet Union. The order frightened him a lot – the young mayor expected sabotage by the Germans. This, in turn, could lead to him being accused of disobedience of orders, negligence, and even worse. And imagine his surprise when he saw factory workers methodically and diligently performing the assigned task. He watched with interest the process of demounting the machine, disassembling and packing it up. “A German worker carefully removed a pinion, carefully lubricated it with solidol, wrapped it in wrapping paper, tied a tag to it, and put it neatly in a box,” my wise fellow traveler told me.
One day he couldn’t help asking the German why he was working for his enemy with such scrupulousness, and the latter answered that the government could change, but order and labor had to remain inviolable, otherwise everything around was meaningless.
The veteran signalman also told me that once he and his orderly were transporting some bulky telephone equipment to a neighboring town. They had to wait for the train at the station for a long time, in the cold, and they went to the station restaurant, leaving their trunks and suitcases under its window outside – well, they did not want to drag them inside. While they were drinking their tea and snacking, the maître d’hôtel came into the hall three times and asked whose trunks were under the windows. The senior lieutenant kept silent, avoiding possible claims and scandal, but after the third question an explanation followed: “Now an echelon with the Russian military is passing through the station, and the restaurant personnel cannot take responsibility and ensure safety of the luggage, so please put the things away or have them guarded!”
I am not going to praise Germans too much, I know many cases where they showed themselves as badasses and criminals, both during World War II and then during rare contacts of the USSR citizens and Germans from East Germany and even more so from West Germany. But again, I will say the main and the secondary things – their basis remains positive, rational and humane. They were able to admit the error of their steps, work on their mistakes, and absterge themselves from corrosion of National Socialism.
They can be criticized for their burgher miserliness and philistinism, and we can rightly point to overestimation of the role of trade in geopolitics and Schröderian-Merkelian involvement in raising the Russian-Putin monster. But Germans are proving in practice that they can overcome all this. Already overcoming little by little. And I believe they will have their way. They convert all Turkish, Arab, Vietnamese, Chinese, Slavic and other immigrants into Germans – with different customs, religion, culture, but with the discipline, diligence and law-abiding attitude common to all citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany. They will switch all utilities to green energy, and the world’s best cars – to hydrogen and electricity. I have a feeling that they are not going to beat about the bush.
Our interest in this question consists in comparing historical processes in the post-Nazi states. In trying to predict whether Russians (specifically Russians, not Russians-citizens of the present RF) will be able to carry out such an upgrade of national consciousness in their future renewed country. Will they be able to build their “shining Temple on the hill” without imperialism, without ridiculous and awful bonds and disgusting “greatness”? Will they be able to change themselves for the sake of a new normal country? Or is it “Alles für Russland!” again?
We’ll see, dear compatriots, everything is happening before our eyes.