- Jenny Mountain
- BBC Berlin correspondent
Other allies have expressed surprise and anger at Germany’s refusal to arm Ukraine.
But the refusal of this powerful European country to give up arms is historic and it is important to understand its reasons.
To the east of the capital Berlin is a large meadow where horror stories are buried in the mud.
As farmers plow the field, they can see human bones, weapons, and traces of World War II.
That was in 1945. Hitler, the former dictator of Germany, was hiding in a bunker in Berlin. His soldiers were retreating. Soviet troops were advancing from the plains in the east, but were stopped by the Nazi army on Mount Silo Heights.
Following this, corpses piled up there and blood flowed. The Soviet Union won and World War I advanced rapidly toward its end, but about 30,000 of their soldiers were killed.
Looking at the monument erected at Silo Heights, one can understand how deeply the history of this country is deeply ingrained in the minds of many Germans. How does that horror of the twentieth century still affect its foreign policy today?
This may also be one of the reasons why Germany refused to give arms to Ukraine.
This is a country with mostly peace loving people.
War in Germany
According to the annual survey, Germans believe that diplomatic talks are the best way to resolve any conflict.
The German military has little involvement in any campaign other than peacekeeping operations. There are some exceptions to this, which are highly controversial. These include the Balkans in the 1990s and more recently Afghanistan.
Germany is one of the largest arms exporters in the world (although its production is lower than that of the United States and Russia). But there is strict control over where weapons are sent. It was also alleged that Angela Merkel’s government did not fully comply with the rules.
“Germany has an old regulatory policy and is seen as encouraging rather than reducing the arms export conflict,” said Thomas Klein-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Fund. This policy states that Germany does not export arms to war zones.
However, Thomas says Germany has avoided this policy in arming Kurdish militants to fight the Islamic State militant group in northern Iraq. But the situation in Ukraine is different. The reasons for this are in history – millions of people were killed by the Nazi army in Ukraine and Russia.
He says, “Sending weapons to fight from one bloody part of Germany to another can create a huge political debate in Germany.”
A test on the border with Ukraine for Germany’s new coalition government.
Challenge to the new government
President Olaf Scholes, who has so far considered the Govt-19 to be the biggest challenge, is now facing pressure from international allies due to Ukraine.
A coalition government of Social Democrats, Greens and Independent Democrats came to power late last year. This government has promised the people a valuable foreign policy and strict restrictions on arms imports.
Despite calls from within the government to send arms to Ukraine, President Olaf paid for a field hospital in lieu of weapons, volunteered to treat wounded soldiers in Germany, and Germany sends 5,000 helmets to Ukraine.
Some believe that sending arms will not solve the crisis.
Foreign Minister and Green Party leader Annalina Berbokh has stressed that Germany is a financial donor to Ukraine and that it would be more effective than supplying arms.
Annalina Berbok said, “I do not believe that arms exports can bring about any change in the military. The best way is to stop the occupation.
President Olaf Scholes, like his predecessor Angela Merkel, is in favor of a negotiated settlement. Angela Merkel has already worked with French President Emmanuel Macron on what is known as the Normandy Format, with Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia aiming to establish a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
“It is not right for France and Germany to arm Ukraine with mediators and a mediator because we are trying to find a diplomatic solution,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Niels Schmidt.
Interests in the Northstream 2 Pipeline and Germany
Thousands of German companies work there. Many Germans, even Angela Merkel, grew up in the Iron Curtain region of Europe and learned Russian at school.
Due to similar experiences in Eastern Europe, he was able to communicate better with Russian President Vladimir Putin than with other leaders.
But what is even more surprising and annoying to many Western countries and some in Germany is why Germany did not use its trump card.
Russia’s oil pipeline Nordstream 2 is coming to Germany and doubling Russian gas going to Europe.
President Olaf is pressuring Russia to suspend the program through sanctions. But they have not yet done so, and critics blame Germany’s own interests.
This is a difficult issue for his government. Social Democrats believe it is a private economic project, so it should be kept out of the conflict, but the FDP and the Greens, allies of the government, believe it should be political and stopped.
The German chancellor has indicated that all possibilities are open if Russia invades Ukraine. But the gentle manner in which it is said, whether subtle or weak or hesitant – raises the question of what history considers them.
Niels Schmidt said, “There must be some kind of strategic ambiguity so that Putin does not begin to think about which option could harm him.” So it is important to keep all options open.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has been testing the patience of the West, with Germany facing questions about its pacifist tendencies.
Even at the end of Angela Merkel’s tenure, there was a growing demand for Germany to play a more important military role on the world stage.
However, Silo Heights spectators can only imagine the roar of rockets and the screams of dying men, knowing what danger Germany is in and what its cost would be if something went wrong.
“Evil zombie enthusiast. Unapologetic foodaholic. Friend of animals everywhere. Reader. Devoted bacon practitioner.”