When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Ukraine Has Exposed The Bankruptcy Of Germany's "Never Again" Pacifism

A group of pro-peace German intellectuals published a letter asking the country not to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, but they're missing the point completely. Germany needs to reinvent itself in order to face today's challenges — and threats.

The Reichstag building in Berlin.

The Bundestag, or German federal government, meets at the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Sascha Lehnartz


BERLIN — When even the brightest minds — some of whom have shaped the intellectual life of this republic for decades — suddenly seem at a loss, it can mean one of two things. Either the clever minds are not as clever as we were always led to believe. Or the times have changed so brutally that old pieces of wisdom are suddenly no longer valid.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

If you don't want to give up your childhood faith in the Federal Republic of Germany quite yet, you can settle on the second option.

Alexander Kluge, one of Germany's most versatile artists, founded a television production company, proving that there can even be television for intellectuals. Journalist and prominent feminist Alice Schwarzer has done more for the liberation of women in this country than anyone else. Yet Schwarzer and Kluge, along with another two dozen intellectuals, have written an open letter that basically recommends Ukraine to submit to Vladimir Putin for the sake of the authors' peace of mind.

If the other side is only interested in destroying, not talking, then the plea for a negotiated solution that would end the war "as quickly as possible" is only an admission to one's own willingness to give up freedom and self-determination.

In favor of pacifism, but at what cost?

The aversion to military force as a means of politics is historically and psychoanalytically understandable in Germany. But after almost 80 years of peace guaranteed by others, it has led the country to a large-scale erosion of the potential to defend the values and the normative order to which we owe our own existence in the event of a threat.

The fact that it is primarily others, including Americans, who protect our freedom is gladly swept under the table. It becomes embarrassing when this foreign-financed luxurious pacifism is also sold as a morally superior level of knowledge.

Germans had lectured Ukrainians about fascism for decades, but now that fascism is there...

Last Sunday, sociologist Hartmut Welzer attempted to do just that on a talk show, when he tried in all seriousness to challenge Andrij Melnyk, the ambassador of Ukraine — a country currently under assault by Russian invaders — with his own family's inter-generational war trauma.

It is this arrogance of the ostentatiously purified former offenders, which is increasingly unbearable, that U.S. historian Timothy Snyder recently summed up the situation as follows: Germans had lectured Ukrainians about fascism for decades, but now that fascism is there, Germans are financing it while Ukrainians are dying fighting it.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz standing in front of the German, EU and Ukrainian flags.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the nation on television in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Markus Schreiber/dpa/ZUMA

Dissolving German certainty

Quite a few of the old German certainties have dissolved over the past three months as collateral damage from Russian artillery.

For example, the idea that peace can only exist with Russia and not against it. Or that free trade inevitably leads towards liberal change. Or that you're fine if you stay out of it as much as possible.

We are currently facing the bankruptcy of a narrow-minded "never again" snobbery that ignores the fact that unconditional pacifism can be merciless and, ultimately, leads to capitulation to terror. We will not be able to avoid rethinking ourselves and the world.

Germany is not only facing an intellectual generational change. It needs to reinvent itself, completely. And we'd better get started quickly. We will have to learn to think strategically. We will have to become more defense-minded, more fearless and more willing to take risks. And we will have to take responsibility for ourselves.

That means that we, as a democratic nation in the center of Europe, should start growing up. This means that we will have to listen more carefully to neighbors who know more than we do. Surprisingly, there are quite a few of them.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest