After Gorbachev’s passing, a lot can be said about his deeds and legacy. Little of it will be positive.
At best, he’s remembered as a bumbling fool, who started reforms that he was in no position to bring to a positive fruition.
At worst he – along with Yeltsin – is remembered as a malicious traitor to the Russian world, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people as the result of the demolition of the USSR, which started several years before the fateful events of 1991.
As a middle-ground, I would recommend Scott Ritter’s article in Consortium News SCOTT RITTER: Mikhail Gorbachev, a Vector of Change
My today’s translation takes a look at Gorbachev’s legacy from a different angle – from the perspective of the reunification of Germany. It was in 2014 that first read a short comment about the German counter-historical stance on the reunification of Crimea in light of the prior reunification of Germany. Back then it was just that – a comment in some other discussion. Yesterday I came across an article at the Federal News Agency site that makes a much deeper , and more passionate dive into the matter. And article, a translation of which I am presenting below.
Germany refuses the Russians what Russians gave her thirty years ago
Pravda Komsomolskaya/Russian Look
In Germany, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is very much loved. Much more than in Russia and many former Soviet republics. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was even called “the best German” because he did a huge historical thing for the German people. He united a divided Germany.
But he demolished his own country.
Germany was divided based on the results of the Second World War. And even its existence in a divided form turned out to be a miracle. Those Russians turned out to be too noble. After all, for what the Germans and their allies did on the land of the Soviet Union, the Red Army had the fullest moral right not to leave from Germany a single intact stone. And no one would dare to condemn it. Germany at that time was an Absolute Universal Evil, smelling of the smell of burnt human flesh from the crematoriums of the concentration camps. Germany was a killer country, a monster country. Very many of the Soviet soldiers who entered the territory of Germany lost everything at home — parents, wives and children. Their houses were reduced to ruins. Revenge in this case is a common thing. But those Russians are very strange people. Not only did they not take revenge, but they also fed the wives and children of murderers with bread and porridge.
And then Germany could have been abolished as a state altogether. Even some coalition allies have suggested such an option. No one would have dared to object.
But Germany remained in the form of two states. Thanks to the Soviet Union. And again, thanks to the Soviet Union and its last leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Germany became united again. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev united the divided German people and became a national hero for Germany.
wikipedia.org/Lear 21/CC BY-SA 3.0
But because of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, another people became divided – the Russian people. It so happened that many Union republics received fat territorial gifts from the Soviet Russia, Russian lands that never belonged to them. (Translator note: for one such example, see my post A short look at the short history of Kazakhstan through the lens of a 1922 map) Lands inhabited by Russian people. And thanks to Mikhail Sergeyevich, all these people simultaneously found themselves in foreign lands. And nationalism became the main ideology of the former Soviet republics that gained independence. It was seasoned with Russophobia, somewhere more, somewhere less, but it was present almost everywhere.
In 2014, the people of Crimea voted in a referendum to join Russia. Those who say that it was a fake referendum, or it was held at gunpoint, are deliberately lying. The referendum was absolutely fair and massive. Crimeans have spoken unequivocally. Since 1991, they have wanted to return home from their stepmother, who got them thanks to Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev’s insane decision. (Translator note: more on it in this article that I posted several years ago: The brief history of Crimea and And what about restoration of territorial integrity of Russia..?)
And the same Germans who idolize Gorbachev for stopping the division of their people, in this case, condemned this reunification. They imposed sanctions, called it “annexation”, refused to take into account the will of the Crimeans. Although — everything was obvious and open. Crimea returned home. And the Russian nation that as the results of 1991 turned out to be one of the most divided in the world, joined its two parts. By the way, it was much cleaner and more honest than the unification of Germany. After all, many people in the GDR did not want to live in the FRG, but no one took their opinions into account.
And there was no “reunification of the Germanies”. There was a typica takeover. FRG absorbed the GDR. With all the consequences. There were also defeats in civil rights, repression and persecution of former employees of the GDR. At a variety of levels, it even concerned teachers. (Translator note: this was especially telling, taking into account how the two Germanies were denazified after WWII, with GDR being much cleaner in this regard, as described in another article that I translated earlier: The denazification of Ukraine should take into account the mistakes and shortcomings in the denazification of Germany in 1940-1960)
Perhaps it is worth reminding the Germans about this on the day when their national hero is buried. I understand that this reproach is unlikely to affect Mr. Scholz or Annalena Berbock. Yes, even Angela Merkel, a former Komsomol member from the GDR, who climbed to the very Olympus of German politics and certainly should be grateful to the Russians, will not notice anything at all.
But the Germans should know that they are united and exist as a nation only thanks to the Russians. And for some reason they want to deny the Russians exactly the same right.
But Germany hasn’t been reunified. And it likely will never be.
Eastern Germany was ethnically cleansed, and renamed “Poland”. The artificial border was created. More than 11 million Germans were killed in the period 1944-1947.
Well, what you say is only half-true. The article talks about the state of Germany after WWII and the reunification of those two parts with Gorbachev’s blessing. The territories that were transferred to Poland are, indeed, a special matter. There was no ethnic cleansing as you write, but rather relocation (the same kind of relocation was happening to the Poles from the Lvov region) and assimilation. I’ve known a German from the border region who now lives in Poland – his family was not relocated. He speaks both Polish and German equally well, and personally thinks of himself as a German.
I’ll do a translation of a historical article touching upon the wider Polish question, where the transfer of the territories is also brought up. (And yes, the political Polish establishment has been getting out of hand lately.)
If I remember correct, the number of perished Germans that you quote is that of the combatants and civilians who lost their lives during the whole of WWII, and not starting from 1944 (which sounds like an arbitrary date).
There is a very good quote of Otto von Bismark that the German nation should have heeded – both back then, and, in fact, right now: “Never fight with Russians” (https://en.topcor.ru/2511-nikogda-ne-vojujte-s-russkimi.html?ysclid=l8hsc7vqzq612755141)
And also: “Do not expect that once taking advantage of Russia’s weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian has always come for their money. And when they come – do not rely on an agreement signed by you, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian is to play fair, or do not play.”
Here is the article that I said I would translate: https://stanislavs.org/reparations-to-poland-from-russia-and-how-much-does-poland-itself-in-fact-owe-russia/