- In 2008 in Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, an unusual exhibition was shown called “Our Germans are our Russians”. The exposition was devoted to the prejudices and stereotypes that are inherent in German society in relation to the “Russians” and “Russians” in relation to the Germans in the two-century period 1800-2000. The newspaper Zyuddoyche Zeitung noted with irony: “The exhibition highlights the clichés that are deeply rooted in our creation with regard to Russians: Russians love and know how to drink, they are generous and constantly suffer from the oppression of their rulers.”
Due to the great success of the exhibition, one of the largest sociological agencies in Germany conducted a survey on the attitude of the Germans to the Russians and Russia. 86% of respondents reported that they are interested in events in Russia, of which 40% are actively interested and 46% less active. The difference between age groups is clearly evident: among those older than 60, 53% of respondents are very interested in what is happening in Russia. In the 18-29 group, those are only 18%. 84% of respondents admitted that the image of Russia in the view of the average German is full of stereotypes. But at the same time in the answers to the questions themselves confirmed the stereotypes.
So, the respondents at the mention of Russia have the following associations: a huge country 96%, social inequality 90%, honoring 87%, powerlessness 65%, etc. Particularly surprising was the fact that despite such a high percentage of people interested in the events in Russia, 42% of respondents still associate Russia with a planned economy. At the mention of Russian, such images appear: alcohol use 90%, hospitality 88%, courage 78%, “Russian soul” 65%, loyalty to the government 62%. In assessing the political regimes in Russia, 68% of Germans believe that Gorbachev's perestroika was the best time for Russia.
Very interesting were the answers to the latest research questions. 45% of Germans are of the opinion that the image of Russia in Germany is rather negative than positive. 51% of respondents expressed disagreement with the image of Russia presented in the German media and would like to receive more information from other sources. Only 36% believe that modern Russia is objectively represented in the German media space.
Beg a short excursion into history. Fear of Russia and Russians are not new to Germany. To some extent, it united the right and left in the 19 century — the first third of the 20 century. The liberals feared the image of the “gendarme of Europe”, the conservatives believed that “barbarous and huge Russia” was dangerous for Germany in military-political and cultural terms. Oswald Spengler stated: "Russia is Asia."
The German historian Gerd Koenen, author of the book “The Complex of Russia. Germans and East 1900-1945 ”, published in Munich. He called the 4 complex, which formed the cliché: domination, inferiority, fear and imperial spirit complexes. In the circles of intellectuals, nobility and officers ply so-called. "The Testament of Peter the Great", in which Peter I allegedly left to his descendants detailed instructions for the phased conquests of the whole of Europe over the next two centuries.
The German historian Peter Jan draws a parallel between this text and another fake - the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which are very similar. Further, Yang writes with reference to the First World War: “There is no doubt that the image of the enemy was attributed not only to Russia. Other opponents of Germany, England and France, were also hit by propaganda. But in the information war against Russia there was one, only an intrinsic feature of it: the struggle against the Russians seemed to be a battle against Asian barbarism. The victory of Germany was to mark the victory of European civilization. ”
We see a clear coincidence with the period of another world war, the rule of the Nazis. I will not dwell on Hitler’s Russophobia. Only two observations.
1. Gottfried Feder, now forgotten by one of the first key theorists of the Nazi Party, commenting on the 1927 party program, pointed out to "enemies of Germany" who, by definition, "cannot love her," even if they live in the country. There were Russians in the list, the Communists in brackets. And this is despite the fact that approximately the 150-thousand-strong Russian community of that time consisted of almost 100% of white emigration, which by definition was not communist.
2. The Russophobic caricature of a supposedly “typical Russian”, published in 1915 in the quite respectable newspaper Tagesblatt, was exactly repeated in 1942 on the covers of a series of brochures “Untermensch”, which was published by the SS.
In the post-war FRG in the context of the Cold War and the confrontation of the two systems, politicians and journalists have repeatedly used the image of the enemy in the person of Russian to create a certain effect among the population. The election poster of the CDU 1953 of the city depicted a caricature image of a Red Army man with a sickle and hammer on his cap, looking across the horizon. The inscription read: All roads of Marxism lead to Moscow. So vote for the CDU! ”
With reference to modern Germany, I would like to consider separately clichés and stereotypes regarding Russia and Russians / other residents of the post-Soviet space, associated by the majority of Germans with the concept of “Russians” and with respect to the Russian-speaking diaspora in Germany. Although there are many parallels.
Russia and Russians. Negative images in the German media are closely related to the political sympathies and antipathies of a significant part of the German elites. In the 90 years, Yeltsin and his administration were perceived positively in Germany. Accordingly, the negative connotation of Russia was the poverty of the population and, as a consequence, the need for assistance from Germany. In the midst of the August financial crisis 98, the Berlin newspaper "BZ" published on the first page some photographs of Red Square and grandmothers in the food queue. The headlines read: “Hunger in Moscow. Winter is coming. Should we Germans save Russia? ”
It should be noted that a.) Despite the severe impact of the economic crisis in Moscow, there was still no hunger, b.) Winter, a battered cliché associated with the cold and Russia, was not very suitable for August, c.) There was no question of financial aid to Russia , the leadership of Germany and Russia at the time of publication of the newspaper did not discuss anything like that. Nevertheless, the reader was already given a “duck” and negative emotions were implicitly suggested.
In the beginning-middle of 2000, the wealth and rudeness of the “new Russians” became the leitmotif of many publications. In 2008, the magazine Stern, which cannot be called tabloid, placed on the cover photos of caricature men with overweight in gold chains surrounded by no less caricature beauties in bikinis. Title: “Russians are coming. How Russians take their places from the Germans on the beaches. ” An extensive article cited only negative reports of drunkenness, bad language, defiant behavior of the “Russians”, because of which both German tourists and resort hotel owners suffer.
The prosperity of Russian tourists is also blamed for them, and in a very original way: “Russians come to the beaches where our Germans rested. They are willing to pay more than others. As a result, German tour operators no longer get profitable contacts at good hotels. And prices are rising everywhere. ” Also, the Russians are to blame for the fact that there are many of them: “Recently, the number of Russian tourists has increased by 70%. The Germans do not have time to take good places on the loungers by the pool or on the seashore. " True, it should be noted a large number of critical reviews from readers.
Finally, today the media is dominated by the politicization of almost any issue related to Russia. There is a “Putin Russia” stamp, Putins Russland, which has already become a stable phrase, although the use of similar formulas does not apply to other states. Spiegel: “The State of Gazprom. Putin's Energy Empire ”Di Zeit repeats the phrase twice in one paragraph of an article on political repression in Russia, October 2013:“ Putin's Russia. At first you are “uncomfortable”, then you go to jail. But political repressions in Putin’s country can be brought not only to prison ”(The fate of Khodorkovsky was in mind).
Many significant events in the life of Russia are also called Putin’s events: summits, sports events, for example, the Olympics in Sochi. Stern Magazine, August 2013: “Homophobia in Russia. How the whole world is outraged by Putin’s Olympics. ” The MDR channel in December 2013 showed a documentary about Sochi called “Putin’s Games”. It should be noted frequent attempts to link any non-political event with politics.
An interview with Peter Frey, the editor-in-chief of the second state channel TsDF, devoted to the future coverage of the Olympics, was published recently. The first question was not entirely related to sports:
“Question: - How difficult is it to report criticism from a country like Russia?
Answer: - It is easy if there are journalists who can do it. We have three correspondents in Russia. We reported on Pussy Wright, on violations of human rights, on opposition politicians. All this plays an important role for us. As the owner of the rights to broadcast, we will try to make the reports about the Olympics interesting. But journalism obliges us to talk about problems in construction, about expelling the local population, about environmental problems. We have already reported this, we will continue to report it, moreover, more widely. Question: Is it necessary to make political accents during the broadcast of a sporting event? Answer: We do not want to spoil the spectator holiday sports. But we see the tension of the conflict in Russia. Sure, these are Putin’s games. ”
Perhaps, one can definitely name two areas free from politics. These are reports about the Russian nature on the German counterparts of the Discovery Channel and folklore, primarily associated with the great popularity of the Don Cossacks choir headed by the late Ivan Rebrov, who, by the way, was actually called Hans Rolf Rippert and he was not Russian.
Russian-speaking diaspora in Germany
In Germany, about 4 million Russian-speaking people currently live, only in Berlin more than 230.000. This is the largest emigrant diaspora in the country. Nevertheless, the media rarely pay attention to the Russian-speaking. If the plots and go, then they also manifest certain stereotypes. A positive trend is a gradual departure from the generalized image of the “Russian”, which is important due to the fact that representatives of 80 nationalities from the post-Soviet space reside only in the German capital. However, in the press and on TV there is practically no information about the success story of Russian-speaking migration.
According to the report of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees for 2013, the two largest groups of Russian-speaking, German immigrants and Jewish immigrants, are highly educated, well integrated, and have a low level of unemployment. However, in television reports and newspaper articles the emphasis is on negative examples, mainly crime. Moreover, despite the primacy of tolerance in German society, the publications indicate the national or linguistic affiliation of offenders.
A.) Alcohol abuse, propensity to violence. Regional newspaper Helmstedt, February 2007.: "Drunk Russian Germans laid siege to a gas station." Radio Memmingen, December 2009. Drunk Russian German beat a cyclist. The largest newspapers in Germany afford a very unfounded generalization. "Di Zeit", October 2006 g: "For a long time, the Russian Germans were considered silent emigrants. Today, their sons are heading violent crime lists. Their actions are completely unmotivated and extremely cruel. ”
B.) Moral depression, poverty, unwillingness to learn German. Over the past 12 months, two main German TV channels, bearing the reputation of TV for intellectuals, ARTE and Phoenix, have shown stories about Russian-speaking immigrants. One of them (December 2012) tells the story of a young Russian German, Dmitry, who, as stated in the story, “is stuck between two worlds, Russia and Germany, is morally depressed and cannot find a place in life.” In another documentary film (2013 broadcast in May), the life of Russian-speakers in a small town in a residential area was presented. It is very persistently pointed out the lack of knowledge of the German language (all interlocutors, except one, speak Russian with translation), poverty (recipients of social benefits, clients of the social store of free products). Pictures of a visit to a Russian cultural center and a joint performance of songs are offered as a “positive” fact.
In Germany, there is no controlled or nested Russophobia. There are no social restrictions based on nationality, country of origin, or membership of a particular culture. German society has a high degree of tolerance, the political model does not require loyalty to the titular nation. Many Russian speakers are very successful in Germany. Non-objective stories about Russia, politicization or selective reflection of certain events are the product of the desire of journalists to follow the mainstream, which does not exclude their own conviction that their position is correct. Cliches and stereotypes largely continue to live. An effective means of fighting them is an information transfer, the contact of Russian-speaking activists with the country's leading media.