Marx and Lenin

Does Mrs. Noem know what she is talking about?

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem actually said the following sentence yesterday during the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston: “Let me tell you the truth about the enemies of the Second Amendment. They are schooled in the ways of Marx and Lenin.”

Soviet propaganda banner with the heads of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin), Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx (from left). We were fed up with such images in GDR times, because they hung in every classroom. I can’t believe that I have to come back to these pictures now, in the supposedly freest country in the world, of all places. At least no harm happened to us in school during our childhood, not once in the whole country – and that in the midst of a socialist dictatorship.

What pathetic nonsense.

“In the ways of Marx and Lenin” I was trained against my will in 1987/88 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on the Kalashnikov, the most widely used sub-machine gun in the world at the time – and I did not like that at all. Even that “schooling” did not change my attitude towards guns.

In the GDR, where I lived for 29 years, military education was a compulsory subject in schools, as well as military camps – by the way, also for girls -, where the young people were trained on weapons. This also included hand grenades.

Notice something? Marxists, Leninists, Communists, Socialists, were sinister propagandists in line with Mrs. Noem and the NRA in their opinion about guns. Both sides for different, but in both cases self-serving purposes. Both are characterized by efforts to sell their propaganda with all sorts of history distorting arguments to disguise their true intentions. Politicians in the U.S. for reasons of votes and donations from the gun industry, no matter how many children have to die in their own country due to gun violence. Communists and socialists believed that guns were desperately needed to succeed in the “revolutionary struggle against the class enemy.” I am not sure anymore which is worse.

So, I don’t know where the lady from South Dakota gets her wisdom from. But she doesn’t care about historical facts – because she knows how well any nonsense goes down propagandistically with the majority of her countrymen as soon as terms like “Socialism” or “Marxism” come into play. My special friend Ron DeSantis from Florida uses far-fetched allusions to German history, including odd remarks about the Cold War, with such regularity that you can’t help but laugh at them. But with a majority of Americans, that kind of thing resonates.

The radical, naive and inflammatory speeches of the Trumps, DeSantis’, Cruz’ are easy to see through, especially for those who are informed about the historical background. I understand more and more why the political right, together with the churches in the fairway, wants to teach children in schools only what they think is right. For there is nothing more dangerous for the goals of propagandists than an enlightened humanity.

No Guns in Private Hands

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

If the previous reports are somewhat accurate, then it is difficult to understand for a layman like me how parents could be so quickly in front of the school building and still heard the gunshots which killed the children …, while the local police in Uvalde/Texas allegedly could not do anything to stop the murderer for an entire hour. Because they had to wait for the “Tactical Team?”

In terms of gun advocates, then, following the theory, how are armed teachers or school security personnel supposed to stop a heavily armed murderer – when not even trained, local police officers can accomplish this?

Even in previous mass shootings at American schools, armed protective personnel have never been shown to contain, let alone prevent, a crime. These are the facts.

So, what are the gun-obsessed people talking about who believe that only guns in the hands of do-gooders can prevent such carnage? What if these good guys are scared to use their guns as apparently happened in Uvalde? Gun rights advocates generally talk incoherent, visionary, brainless stuff to justify their own motivations for carrying a gun, invoking a manipulated Second Amendment from 1791. They are kaput.

The spread of such nonsense paves the way for the next massacre. What kind of people are they who can support such a thing – what is their spiritual and mental state? They scream their throats out about abortions, while their born children literally have to run for their lives every day.

Those who still talk about weapons protecting lives should be ashamed of themselves. Weapons kill, and for this reason, without exception, they do not belong in the hands of private individuals. No stricter gun laws can stop the madness in the USA.

The Message of Hitler Admirers

The reasons why it is hardly possible to acquire a gun legally in Germany

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

I often ask myself what I am doing here in the “United” States of America. People of my host country shoot their own people in droves every day. The good thing is that even after a quarter of a century, I don’t owe this alienated land of the Brave a single crumb.

My country of origin, Germany, has one of the strictest gun laws in the world. This has to do with both our culture and our history. Growing up, my generation sat at the dinner table with family members and relatives who had lived through Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and now left a message for us that has been imprinted for a lifetime: Only an idiot voluntarily picks up a gun.

Shocking: As always, the USA leads by a wide margin.

These people, long in their graves, were anything but wimps. They had gone out to conquer the world for Hitler and Germany. They were in France with Guderian, on speedboats in the English Channel, on the Eastern Front at Stalingrad, in the desert with Rommel. Several great uncles were in Soviet captivity for several years, which hundreds of thousands of German soldiers did not survive. We were still children when our old soccer coach suddenly took off his shirt in the middle of the sports field and showed us his war wounds, caused by shell splinters. We were shocked at the sight. “Memory of Stalingrad”, he called it, and “look, what it does.” In the end, they had at least come to their senses after initial enthusiasm for their beloved Fuehrer, and this clearly reflected on me and my generation.

Today I am glad, almost proud, to have been surrounded by people who had their minds together. Their legacy is deeply rooted in me, because they spoke out of a very deep experience that was, as it were, extremely painful for them and for which they had had to pay a high price.

Of course, they saw this experience with weapons from a different perspective than is the case today in the U.S. – from the perspective of war. A society in their own country where people justify their gun ownership by claiming they need to protect themselves from their own people – not even the former Nazi supporters could imagine such a thing. But that is exactly the daily reality in the USA, the most Christian of all countries, where gun advocates and proud gun owners sit in their churches on Sundays and call themselves anti-abortionists to boot. How can someone who calls himself pro-life and anti-abortion, in all seriousness, not be firmly against any private gun ownership when tens of thousands of innocent people, including even school children, are murdered in his country every year?

For obvious and logical reasons, the German system of gun control restricts the acquisition, possession, and carrying of firearms to those who have a credible justification for carrying a weapon. Fully automatic weapons are absolutely prohibited.

Dancing with “Luv” behind the Berlin Wall

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The band “Luv” from Holland was very popular in both Germanys at the end of the 70’s, and of course we in the East saw it all on West TV. Coincidentally, I recently came across one of their old songs, which triggered strange-seeming memories in me of experiences I hadn’t written down at the time.

The Dutch Girl Band “Luv”, performing their “Oh, Yes I Do” in 1979.

In 1979/80, when the “state-owned” Magdeburg Housing Combine built a boarding school for the Technical University “Bruno Leuschner” in East-Berlin, my bearded colleague Burkhardt Zitzke, only a year older than me and already married, had brought his cassette recorder with him. On the ceiling of the fourth or fifth floor he had it turned up to full volume, while we both tried to imitate the dancing of “Luv” on the edge of the chasm, which was not easy to do. In our construction workers’ clothes with gloves and helmets on our heads, we probably offered a strange sight. In the midst of our fun performance, we earned the laughter of the residents of the already completed neighboring boarding school, who passed by below. They knew what we were performing, of course.

The western song resounded undisturbed for hundreds of meters. Only a few miles away ran the Berlin Wall; in the same Karlshorst district where we worked was the headquarters of the Soviet Secret Service (KGB).

Our construction team had their beer bottles in buckets of water to keep them cool. Unimaginable today.

We were anything but “brainwashed by the socialist system,” as some know-it-alls claim these days, who in reality lack a certain amount of knowledge about true historical backgrounds. We knew the truth in our divided country from many circumstances and did not believe the hate slogans of the communists against our own relatives in the West. On the other hand, no one ever called me into their office for a rebuke at that time, as happened forty years later in a company called Walmart for me telling them the truth. The facts also include that we did silly things when we were young in a supposed society of communism, but these pranks were harmless compared to what happens in a country of our time, where gun violence is the order of the day – for we did not harm anyone.

I have no reason to defend in retrospect the dictatorial unjust state of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in which I was born, and I can document my opposition from back then – but private gun ownership was absolutely unthinkable for it was simply forbidden. Common sense says that was the right thing to do, of course. In 29 years, I have experienced a single homicide, when a police colonel shot his wife, then himself, in his home. By profession, of course, he was allowed to carry a gun.

Anyone who believes they must own a gun for self-defense is not supporting a free country, but a sick society where guns will not solve a single problem. A clear “no” against weapons should actually be the explicit attitude of true Christians – one would think. However, most of them read out of their Bible what seems to them advantageous for their purposes of justification.

Here is the refreshing band “Luv” from Holland. The girls are well into their sixties in the meantime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-baUQDHabU

Dangerous Turnaround

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Just a week ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) warned that the delivery of German tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine could lead to an expansion of the conflict and even to a nuclear war.

Yesterday, the head of government – once again – performed a total about-face. Contrary to all earlier assurances and under massive pressure from the U.S. and other allies, the German government now wants to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons in the form of the Gephard tank, reportedly in “mid double-digit quantities.”

The consequences could be fatal: For the first time since 1945, Germany risks becoming a warring party. The arms deliveries prolong the war and the dying in Ukraine, which likes to present itself as a European model country.

Instead of supplying weapons, the German government should work together with other European states to develop a neutrality guarantee for the Ukraine. As uncomfortable as it may sound at the moment, long-term security in Europe can only be achieved with Russia. There are a few intelligent people even in Washington who realize that. Unfortunately, this will not change the fact that the U.S. cannot live without enemy images, both internally and externally. Virtually all of American society is steeped in such notions.

This Must Also Be Said

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

It sounds like a staircase joke, but it’s not: Although the war between Russia and Ukraine has been raging for seven weeks, Ukraine continues to collect money from Russia for the transfer of natural gas through its country. Currently, this amounts to $1.2 billion annually.

At the same time, they accuse Germany and others of being dependent on Russian energy.

Yesterday, Germany decided to provide Ukraine with one billion Euros for military aid. Along the way, Germany is taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are immediately eligible for health insurance on a scale that not only most Ukrainians, but even U.S. citizens, can only dream of.

To be fair, it should not be forgotten that the Ukrainian leadership is not made up of innocent people – and never was. After the breakaway from the Soviet Union, they had great words about themselves, and now, after years of corruption, they are very demanding towards the West, as if acting like a bulwark against the aggressor Putin and thereby protecting Europe.

My country, Germany, should not send them weapons, because that will only prolong the war and possibly make the country a warring party, widening the conflict. But the international pressure is intense, as are the alliance obligations.

While a few in Europe and the USA are earning themselves silly from the production, use and stockpiling of weapons, it hits – as always – the suffering civilian population whose majority would like nothing more than to live in peace. But the dying in Ukraine continues – and who knows for how long.

Memo From Camp David

When George H. W. Bush and the German Chancellor Conferred on the Future about Germany and beyond

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

It should all happen very quickly: Three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) traveled to the United States to reassure himself of American support for Germany’s future plans toward state unity.1 At a meeting at Camp David on February 24, 1990, he easily found the backing he had been hoping for from U.S. President George H. W. Bush. However, the Americans were primarily concerned not only with German reunification, but also with the expansion of NATO.

In the meantime, a public memorandum about the Camp David meeting exists and can be viewed online.2 It illustrates how, in the period immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West was keen to shift its sphere of influence together with EU and NATO to the East and closer to Russia, the legal successor of the then still existing Soviet Union.

Excerpt of the memorandum of the conversation between then U.S. President George H. W. Bush and then German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, at Camp David on February 24, 1990, released by the National Security Archive. The marked comment of the American President is telling.

In contrast, there is little sign in this conversation of plans for compromise or even peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union within the framework of a future security structure in Eastern Europe. One participant in the conversation is intent on a possible reunification of Germany under the protective shield of the Americans; the Americans themselves see their supremacy in the world after the end of the Cold War as their most important interest in the context of “a new world order”. Both sides unfold their strategy at the expense of the disintegrating Soviet Union. The fact that the Soviets possessed nuclear weapons and that up to half a million of their soldiers were stationed in the GDR is completely ignored, as is Moscow’s reaction to the surprise opening of the Wall on November 9, 1989, which could have turned out quite differently.

I had been born and raised in the GDR, the frontline state of the Cold War, and even on the morning after the opening of the Wall, my father did not trust the situation: “The Russians will not tolerate this, they will send their tanks again.” His “again” referred to June 17, 1953, when workers’ uprisings in East Berlin and other cities had brought the GDR to the brink of collapse and the Ulbricht regime could only hold on to power through Soviet military intervention.

But this time, in the fall of 1989, the Soviet tanks and soldiers stationed on GDR soil remained in the barracks during the crucial hours. The reform policies of Mikhail Gorbachev, brought about by huge economic problems in his own country and mass protests in several Warsaw Pact states, ushered in the end of the Cold War; a development that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Whoever looks at Europe today and sees a despicable war, which hardly anyone thought possible especially after 1989, should remember the recent historical development of the past three decades. There is no justification for Russia’s war against Ukraine – but the historical causes of the current catastrophe go back further than pointing to Europe’s and Germany’s dependence on Russian energy supplies. The terrible suffering of the affected people in Ukraine could have been prevented by more than one side if the Western powers, including Germany, had had the honest intention of building trust with the successor state of the Soviet Union instead of cornering it.

Notes:

1 Kohl had the valid fear that the chance for reunification, which had been offered to the Germans as suddenly as it had been unexpected, might not last long, so that swift action was the order of the day. This was especially true of the Soviet Union’s position, whose concession the German chancellor saw as a singular opportunity in history.

2 The published memorandum of February 24, 1990, can be read here: Memorandum of Conversation between Helmut Kohl and George Bush at Camp David. | National Security Archive (gwu.edu)

As a side note: It’s quite amusing that no small number of people in the U.S. believe Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall. In truth, Reagan did not pressure the Soviets, but took successful steps of détente with them toward disarmament, undoubtedly paving the way for what was to follow a short time later. His words at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, remain unforgotten: “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In contrast, American foreign policy under his successor, George H. W. Bush, very quickly returned to Cold War practices.

European Energy Trap

The original failure is not the energy dependence of Europeans from Russia

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

One can imagine how the situation would be now with an American president Donald Trump. Someone in Moscow would rub their hands, and the unity in the appearance of the Europeans would hardly be as determined as it is at present. Hopefully, politicians from Brussels to Berlin and London to Paris remember in this hour that already the next president of the United States might not be a transatlantic friend like Joe Biden.

While his approval rating is dropping dangerously at home, Biden can score points abroad and improve the U.S.’s international standing. But that doesn’t sit well with many of his compatriots, who think along the lines of “America first” and thus in reality support autocratic aspirations – a dangerous path that Trump had already led the U.S. down. Biden’s increasing unpopularity is unlikely to change due to the fact that the Europeans now actually want to buy environmentally harmful fracking gas from overseas.

It is hard to understand why ludicrous sanctions exist against Russian private citizens while the real lever that helps finance Putin’s war on Ukraine is left untouched. Germany, for example – according to Robert Habeck (Alliance 90/The Greens), Federal Minister of Economics and Climate Protection, – is still dependent on Russian natural gas until mid-2024 and is using this argument as justification to continue trading with Russia. A unified and convincing policy against Putin looks different, who now wants the natural gas to be paid for in rubles. Perhaps Germany will experience its decisive showdown next week, when one of the two sides will have to relent. So far, it is hard to imagine that Putin will give in.

A loss of Russian gas supplies would have a devastating impact not only on the German economy and most private households, but also on the entire European market. For the announced gas supplies from America can only cover ten percent of Europe’s demand in the short term.

There has long been criticism that Germany and Europe have become too dependent on Russia, and now we are seeing the consequences. But Germany’s energy agreements – given the country’s long and guilt-laden history with Russia – were seen not least as a guarantee of mutual trust by building reciprocal dependencies. It was assumed that the Russians would have no interest in completely throwing themselves over with us if they themselves have advantages through economic cooperation.

The project has failed. But how to solve the world’s problems without a giant country like Russia? Russia cannot be downgraded or dissolved. Isolated, it would be a constant threat to world peace.

The long-term mistakes were not made in the energy sector, but in geostrategic matters. The West, under U.S. leadership, has not made consistent efforts since the 1990s to integrate Russia into security structures while providing security guarantees to bordering countries without integrating them into NATO and thus not cornering Russia.

From the very beginning there have been no serious efforts to transform the former Soviet Union into a partner after its disintegration. If this had happened, even in America today hardly anyone would be talking about Europeans’ energy dependence on Russia.

German State Secretary: Refugees across the Atlantic as well

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Visiting a shelter for Ukrainian refugees today in Hannover, Lower Saxony, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) said every country in Europe must take in refugees. She added: “We must also bring people across the Atlantic.” Given the dramatic situation in Germany and the economic capability of the countries on the American continent, she could only have meant Canada and the USA.

The German Foreign Minister’s demand is more than justified. The refugees from Ukraine are clearly an overall responsibility of the West due to its misguided policies towards Russia in the 1990’s. In concrete terms, this means that all NATO countries should be required to accept refugees from Ukraine, as the Alliance as a whole has been moving its external border closer and closer to Russia since 1999, thereby unnecessarily provoking the country. Of course, this does not entitle Russia to the war in which it is now bogged down. But the disintegrating Soviet Union should have been treated more carefully by the West, instead of pushing it into the corner of a possibly Asian peripheral power via the American Wolfowitz Doctrine.

Germany’s Secretary of State Annalena Baerbock (Alliance 90/The Greens).

In the meantime, it has almost been forgotten that in 1990 there were even brief considerations of admitting the Soviet Union to NATO.

At that time, there were many opportunities to integrate Russia into European security structures based on reciprocity. These opportunities have been punitively squandered. A prudent policy by the West would have made this bonding possible under the acceptance not to impose Western-style democracy on Russia. Anyone who was able to observe the political upheavals in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980’s from close quarters knows that this is true.

Now the European Union expects ten million refugees from Ukraine – that would be a quarter of the country’s entire population. This represents an enormous social burden and at the same time an opportunity for the entire West, including the U.S., to show its true Christian commitment.

Spied on by Communists

The Secret State Police of the GDR had me in their sights

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The vernacular called the Ministry for State Security of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) summarily “Stasi” or “Peek and Listen.” It was not as harmless as it sounded on the surface. The Stasi, abbreviated for “Staatssicherheit”, was not a civilian secret service, but a military institution.

They called themselves the “shield and sword of the party,” the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Under this emblem they observed, denounced, blackmailed, harassed millions and destroyed the lives of thousands: The Stasi.

When this German Democratic Republic went down, I was 29 years old. Like most people, I didn’t dare in the communist dictatorship to be a real resistance fighter. I was rather one of those who often stood there with clenched fists in their pockets and often burned their mouths – sometimes close enough to expose themselves to the danger of the State Security Service. So, I was more of a dissenter, of which there were a few. Otherwise, the non-violent revolution that swept the country in the fall of 1989 and led to the fall of the Berlin Wall would not have been possible. There is no way to make a revolution with people who have adapted to a ruling system.

Anger pent up over the years about the government, which had not been freely elected, erupted into this revolution. It was about freedom rights and democracy, with freedom of travel at the top of the list. It was like a kettle that suddenly boiled over, setting off a chain of events that led to the fall of the Wall more by accident than design.

Of course, I knew at the time that the Stasi existed – but not how intensively they spied on people in their own country. I could not imagine having people in my immediate environment who cowardly and secretly passed on information about me to a communist power organ. Yet in the course of the last few years, I have read more and more books about the Stasi and its practices. Remembering my own experiences, especially in 1985, when I got into serious trouble because of political remarks, I became curious after so long about my own situation at that time – especially how close I came to being harmed. So, I would like to have certainty.

Now I have proof.

Invalid since 1990: Third page of my GDR identity card, issued December 27, 1988.

Unlike the secret documents in the other states of the former Warsaw Pact, the Stasi files were made accessible after German reunification. Anyone who wishes to do so can submit an application and try to find out whether he or she was classified by the GDR secret service as a “person potentially dangerous to the socialistic state”. I filed such an application a year ago and have now received the notification.

In the decisive passage of the letter from Berlin to me it says: “[Our] research has shown that you were recorded in the files of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic. The registration indicates that documents on your person may exist.” Due to the high number of application processing, it can take up to two years before I can receive more detailed information. If this information exists, of course I would like to know what the communists wrote down about me and who was set on me. Because even for the aliases of the spies, their clear names can be requested.

In the months following the fall of the Berlin Wall until German reunification on October 3, 1990, the Stasi had attempted to destroy as much evidence of its espionage activities as possible. In most cases, the documents were shredded, but to this day the Stasi Archive in Berlin is still trying to piece together these mountains of paper scraps with the help of computer technology.