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The Fourth Reich and Russia’s War Against Ukraine

She praised her grandparents’ generation for “bringing peace to Europe,” a rather queer assertion from someone whose grandfather was a Wehrmacht officer on the eastern front. Memo to the Minister: the Nazis did not bring peace to Europe. We did.

This was Annalena Baebock talking, Germany’s foreign minister. Oddly, she seems not to know the Nazis occupied and savaged all of Ukraine, murdering millions and enslaving many more. My mother was one of the latter, a slave labourer in the Third Reich, rounded up by the likes of Annalena’s beloved “Grandpa Waldemar.”

In 2022 Germany isn’t helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression. Why? Because, as Annalena chirped just the other day, “never again from Germany will there be genocide,” uttering this platitude even as Germany’s “Greens” contentedly suck on Mother Russia’s gas teats. Yellow is more truly their colour.

This German posturing reminded me of an incident from July 1990, when I was a lecturer aboard a Danube River cruise ship. Most of the clientele were Americans. The crew were Germans, of whom a few listened in on my talks. After I had finished speaking about Germany’s 20th century history, a question came up about whether German reunification augured a Fourth Reich? Without hesitation I responded that it did not. The Germans of our time, I insisted, were not Nazis and must never be held accountable for “the sins of their fathers.”

I should have stopped there. Instead, I went on, sharing a perspective I got from a Ukrainian man who lived through German occupations in the First and the Second World Wars. Although I carefully explained that I did not share this man’s views, I did acknowledge why he might be angry, given what he suffered from German hands. He had told me that “no matter what the Germans might be doing, they should be bombed flat, every 50 years.” My audience, which included a few veterans, got the point. Indeed a Montanan who served as a B-24 tail gunner on raids over Nazi Germany, and saw comrades killed or maimed, later relayed many a story about the brutality of that war. Interestingly, this American airman bore no animus against the Germans he was encountering on his first trip back to Europe since 1945. He ascribed their transformation to NATO, which he recalled had been organized around a simple formula, one that worked – namely to “Keep the Russians Out, the Germans Down, and the Americans In.” Alas, that prescription no longer applies.

Even though I gave a good lecture I soon discovered not everyone felt so. I had barely returned to my cabin before complaints were registered with the tour company. I got an urgent message instructing me to apologize to the German crewmembers, whose lederhosen was reportedly left all in a twist by my talk.

I liked this riverboat gig and did not want it to end. Yet I was not convinced I needed to beg anyone’s pardon. I had made it clear to my listeners, more than once, that my views were quite different from those of the elderly Ukrainian who had suffered German tyranny. Yet I knew I had to do something. So I started my next lecture by stating I wanted to clarify what I said the previous day. Before I could utter another word a guest raised his hand and asked to speak. To my dismay, this American not only repeated my words from the day before but informed his fellow passengers of how very wrong I had been for voicing such sentiments. Alarmed, I interjected, repeating that all I did was quote someone else. The American hushed me, stood up, rolling down his shirt sleeve to expose his Auschwitz tattoo, adding: “The man you quoted was wrong. The Germans should be bombed flat every 25 years!” The Germans at the back of the room, having come there intent on savouring the spectacle of humiliation, scurried away. I never heard another word of complaint. The man who interceded for me was a Polish Catholic, a Holocaust survivor.

Today Ukraine needs Europe’s help against the Russian invaders. Instead, Germany has repeatedly blocked Ukraine’s admission into NATO, has provided no significant military support and continues to cater to the KGB man in the Kremlin, all because of their fondness for gas, their token gesture of not certifying Nord Stream 2 being utterly hypocritical. I no longer believe the Germans have learned anything from their bloody history. They obviously can’t even tell the difference between a villain and his victims.

About the Author
Born in Kingston, Ontario, the son of Ukrainian political refugees, Lubomyr was educated at Queen's University, the University of Alberta and, since 1990, has been a professor of political geography at The Royal Military College of Canada. He is also a Fellow of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto and, in 2019, was distinguished by President Volodymyr Zelinsky with Ukraine's Cross of Ivan Mazepa.
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