From history distortion into denial: German Pres. Steinmeier on North Stream 2

German Nazi invasion into USSR in 1941. Picture by WW II Maps by USHMM in Washington D.C.

I think it is time to establish a ranking of political exploitation of history for the sake of current politics. We live through an intense time of abusing history, distorting facts, and promoting denial in search of day to day political traction. Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian politicians employed history for the sake of building a new distorted history-based identity. In Germany, President Steinmeier exploits and distorts history to close down an economic deal with Russia.

In an interview with the German newspaper Rheinische Post, Steinmeier defended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline by saying that fuel sales were “one of the last bridges between Russia and Europe.”

“I believe that burning bridges is not a sign of strength,” Steinmeier said.

“For us Germans, there is another dimension,” the president said, noting that June will mark 80 years since the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. He said 20 million Soviet citizens were killed in World War II.”

I was dismayed by the level of manipulation behind this argument. Maybe 80 years is just about time for Germany to get real and realize who were the actual victims of Wehrmacht and SS in 1941 and later. Maybe it’s time to look at the maps and start differentiating territories of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and their actual losses in population and resources in WWII. If we employ history here I would rather compare North Steam 2 to the Ribbentrop — Molotov pact and the time from 1939 till 1941. The time when two totalitarian systems of Nazi Germany and the USSR cooperated militarily and economically over the dead body of Central European countries and their citizens. Yes, they have replaced those countries with USSR, the same USSR that the German president in 2021 is willing to compensate for losses. The Barbarossa plan and 1941 invasion were mostly physically devastating for the Ukrainian, Belorussian, Lithuanian, and eastern Poland territories. Ukraine only, lost from 6 to 8 million of its population, which gives a certain proportion to the 20 million USSR deaths exploited frivolously by president Steinmeier in his interview. Anton Drobovych correct me if I am wrong. North Stream 2 will bring an economic disaster to Ukraine pushing the country more into full energy dependence from Russia. Just to remind president Steinmeier there is a war in Donbas only 2000 km from Berlin, and Russia has just imprisoned again Алексей Навальный Aleksiej Nawalny. Yes, the same one who was miraculously brought to life in Germany after being poisoned in Russia.

I know that history awareness is low but please don’t distort history to the level of denial for your contemporary machinations. This year is the 80th anniversary of 1941 and it is alarming when the Russian propaganda machine, which will start to roll soon is inaugurated by the German president.

About the Author
I hold an MA in International Relations and Politics and an MA in Middle East Studies, both from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. I am a PhD in the field of Political Studies, writing on the changing patterns of Holocaust and Auschwitz memory. I am a scholar of comparative genocide studies and author of a book "Auschwitz after Auschwitz". I work professionally as Jewish genealogist. I am a guide and genealogist through complicated matters and sites. My research company Polin Travel was initiated in 2000 to merge three of my passions: Jewish history, genealogy, and guiding. The last 20 years brought many explorations, genealogical finds, and emotions that proved to be transformative for me and my clients. Pursuing an academic career I don't lose sight of moving my travel activities on-line with first successful on-line guided tours, on-line genealogy, supported with customized films, and lectures. During the COVID pandemic I initiated a new visual history and historical site interpretation project SKY HERITAGE PICTURES.
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