The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

The weight of Z on the Russian nation

Tuesday, 14 June 2022, 09:17 Last update: about 3 months ago

Almost eighty years ago, after the end of the Second World War, what was left of the German nation experienced an unprecedented sense of enmity, resentment, and hostility as a result of the atrocities they had contributed to, proudly or submissively, since Hitler’s rise to power.

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie.”

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The vanquish of the Third Reich has imprinted an invisible mark on the foreheads of each and every German. Being a German in post-war Europe meant being a suspect, a Nazi, and, essentially, an enemy who deserves nothing more than to be stepped on, again and again, by anyone who desired to do so.

In the aftermath of the war, 14 million Germans lost their homes after the organised resettlement from Germany’s former eastern areas and the Sudetenland. Up to 2 million women were raped during the war and the occupation. German industry was bombed to the ground. The territory was split into four pieces. And, finally, the German nation as a whole was physically and morally bankrupt, with up to 3 million men ending up as prisoners of war. This is a mere glimpse of the consequences the defeated nation had to carry on its shoulders during the past decades.

The 42 recorded attempts to assassinate Hitler and the other resistance groups against the Nazi regime, such as The White Rose, serve as proof that not everyone in Germany agreed to the rules of the Third Reich. Of course, it would have required courage, at that time, to admit that not all Germans were Nazis and, in the current geopolitical situation, that not all Russians are followers of the United Russia party and Vladimir Putin.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, people went out to the streets, risking their freedom and life as the Germans did during Hitler’s rule, to speak out and stand up for Ukraine. As a result, people like Oleg Orlov, a prominent Russian human rights activist, Maxim Galkin, the richest comedian in Russia, Ivan Urgant, a well-known Russian television presenter, and many more, have been either detained, forced to flee, or are facing fines and possible prison sentences. This is not to mention the journalists and independent media who have been threatened with severe consequences, if their narrative even slightly deviates from the official one imposed by the regime. The only thing separating the Russian apparatus from the Third Reich’s is the use of the guillotine for anyone who has a mind of their own. In Russia, this is still illegal.

But 23 years of Putin’s rule using the state media as a propaganda tool, despite the access to the internet and social media, has left the majority of the Russian nation accepting, proudly or submissively, the lie of Great Russia and the West being its main enemy. As Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, once pinned down, ‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.’ That is what happened in Germany after the First World War. The concept of the Great German nation and Jews as their primary enemies propelled the little-known Nazi party to power. In parallel, the same theme of propaganda has been communicated in Russia for the past 23 years as the current regime, especially under the present circumstances, cannot allow the lie of Great Russia to burst, at any cost. It would be the end for Putin and his followers. Thus, they continue using the state media and any other means possible to keep the Russian nation enveloped within the hoax. As Goebbels notes, ‘The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie.’ And in the case of the war in Ukraine, it is evident how momentous it is for the regime to protect the Russian nation from the truth of Russia being an economic, political, and military failure, therefore, Goebbels again, ‘It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’ That is why people like Oleg Orlov, Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Lev Ponomaryov, and others, most of whom are living in exile, have had to be silenced, free speech and the press suppressed, and the truth of the misuse of power by the regime erased. The longer this goes on, and the Russian people allow it to go on, the deeper and more painful the mark of the current rule will imprint itself on the foreheads of each and every Russian.

This mark will exclusively touch those Russians who are living abroad or who, due to the war in Ukraine, have recently fled Russia, as 9/11 had turned, overnight, all Muslims into terrorists. In the eyes of the world, the Russian nation is a brainwashed flock that justifies killings, rapes, and loathing in the name of a non-existing thing called Great Russia. And this will affect, sadly, even those who are against the current regime and the war in Ukraine. It will have an impact on those who want to see and fight for Russia to become a civilised country, where human rights are respected and protected, and the government cares about the people it promises to serve.

As the Swastika imprinted itself on the German nation for decades, the letter Z will imprint itself on the Russian nation for the coming decades as a consequence and a reminder of how one person’s personal ambition, and ill-vision, dictates and ruins the lives of millions. When the war in Ukraine is over, the Russian nation will have to accept the responsibility, as all Germans did, for the atrocities the Russian soldiers have committed on Ukrainian soil. At that point, just being a Russian will be enough to be considered a war criminal and an enemy, who deserves nothing more but to be spit on again and again, by anyone who wishes to do so.

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