Mrs. Lang Mueller, which parts of this letter do you still endorse and from which part do you distance yourself?
Katja Lange Mueller: I try to see the right thing on one side and the right thing on the other. It’s no use if we continue to appear as these split mushroom growers: some insult others, and somehow completely lose sight of what’s going on around them. Of course you have to try to act with a sense of proportion, and of course I think the chancellor is doing the right thing when he says that Ukraine should be helped by all the means at our disposal. But one must not lose sight of the danger. The probability of World War III is increasing day by day, and we fill the chancellor and each other with expressive opinions on whether or not Germany should supply heavy weapons. One faction of the intelligentsia contradicted the other, and the real problem, the unpredictability of the Russian rulers, was almost lost sight of again. that’s the problem.
What specifically bothers you is “calling on those who have been attacked without reason or guilt, namely Ukraine, to surrender”. Can you explain?
Lang Muller: What bothers me the most is the sound that keeps making music. That the ball passed to Ukraine as it were. One could conclude – though she doesn’t say so – that Ukraine should disengage from some of its claims. Obviously, no one can win this war. Tone: “Think of us now, we are also in danger” – we have no right.
But in such a debate, isn’t it also important to have an outside perspective and not just look at the position of those directly affected?
Lang Muller: This is the point. Perhaps the message should have been there for two more days, maybe it should have been phrased differently, maybe it should have been more clear. Because the explanation that Ukraine is being asked to back off a bit in the interest of all of Europe and because we all have a real fear of nuclear war – perhaps it should have been phrased more clearly that responsibility for the situation does not lie with Ukraine will. It is not enough to say that we know, of course, that the aggressor is not Ukraine, but Russia. This is not enough in this case.
So you could say the intent of the message was good and correct, but it was worded a bit skewed?
Lang Muller: It is not a little strange, but a little transcendent: there are some intellectuals in Germany who know better than the Ukrainians what is good for all of us.
But you were the first to sign – did you realize it only now?
Lang Muller: No, of course I didn’t realize that until I read the letter very carefully again. I was in Estonia and thought: I think Alice Schwarzer, I’ve already done some things with her, she’s an author in the same publishing house as me – now I sign her first. And when I came back from reading, I read the letter correctly and thought: No, I’m not really behind it.
What do you think of the last message from the Ralph Fox group that Germany should provide more weapons?
Lang Muller: It bothers me a little: one faction of the intelligentsia is at odds with the other, and the real problem, the unpredictability of the Russian rulers, is almost losing sight again. This is not the case only for intellectuals: everyone is arguing about whether heavy weapons from the West reduce or increase the risk of Russian nuclear weapons being used. What do we know? Each of us, as helpless as all of us now, wants to do something. So we write letters, articles and comments.
But isn’t there something positive that such a debate takes place not only in the Bundestag, but we all discuss it?
Lang Muller: Of course, there is also something positive about it. The drawback is that again we mainly care about ourselves. This brings the whole problem back to Germany. The difference between those who still have the experience of World War II in their bones and the post-war children, whom I consider myself, and those who have known only in peacetime, is astounding. It has to do with empirical experience. After all, who knows whether heavy weapons, which guarantee Russia’s victory once in Ukraine, will push the irrationally behaving Putin to an extreme, or whether even he himself will soon be afraid of himself and his unbridled destructive energy? we do not know. We can only hope that there are still some influential forces in Russia that will somehow cancel it out.
It’s all very unsatisfactory – but this somehow brings it with it. What do we learn from that? At what level should we have discussions now?
Lang Muller: We’re having discussions the way we’ve been doing for a long time, no matter what the topic: some people beat up others. They say “the so-called intellectuals”. What’s the point of it if we insult each other? This only consumes energy. Sometimes you lean more to one side, sometimes you lean more to the other. But basically it’s as if not only Ukrainians, but all Europeans are standing on some kind of landmine: some think it’s better not to move – others think the thing is probably just a puppet.
led the interview Jan Wiedemann.