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Germany

In Germany, An Incest Case Everyone Knew About – But Did Nothing To Stop

Everybody talked about it. And some even made jokes. But a visit to the small German town of Willmershbach where a recent incest case has exploded, our reporter finds that nobody came to the help of a woman abused by her father for decades.

A video image of the family house in Willmersbach, Bavaria (DAPD)
A video image of the family house in Willmersbach, Bavaria (DAPD)
Katja Auer and Olaf Przybilla

WILLMERSHBACH -- At the local fair, little kids chanted mocking verses about boys who look exactly like their grandfather. No need to point this out to Jürgen Mönius, mayor of the commune of Gerhardshofen in the Middle Franconia region of Bavaria: he brings it up himself.

But doesn't he think it's unusual that, at a village festival, reference is being made to children born of an alleged incestuous relationship? The problem is that although rumors have been circulating for 34 years, nobody did anything about it. But no, the mayor does not believe it is unusual. After all, he says, these were just old rumors that had persisted for "many years' following one alleged event that might have provided some basis for their being true.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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