Interview with Antje Rávik Strubel: ‘We need a new narrative of solidarity’ – Culture

Mrs. Strobel, you are among the first to sign a new open letter to Olaf Schultz: a reaction to the letter published in EMMA calling on the chancellor not to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. Why another open letter?
First of all, it would never hurt if there was a broad public debate with different positions for discussion. Secondly, Emma’s open letter shocked me a bit, and I was very happy to have this curated work of the second letter. To prove that it is not Germany’s “intellectuals” who are behind the first open letter, but that there are different positions on this subject.

The question of surrendering arms not only divides the intelligentsia, but the country as a whole. Open messages reflect this, and possibly reinforce it as well. How do you deal with new trenches?
I don’t think attitudes are necessarily standardized through open letters. The first things must be said. The different points of view are not insurmountable differences.

How do you personally justify your position that Germany should provide military support to Ukraine as best it can?
I trust those who have dealt with Eastern Europe for years. I base my argument on my experiences in Helsinki, when people from the Baltic states, Eastern Europe, and Russia opened my eyes to the contrasts between Eastern and Western Europe. Even before the occupation of Crimea, many in Eastern Europe noted that Putin was reviving Stalin’s cult and warning of the growing danger posed by a totalitarian regime, something we are rarely told by any politician in the West. This is also the basis of my view that it makes no sense to sit at a table with Putin – something that doesn’t work at all at the moment because he doesn’t get into it. How are you supposed to negotiate with someone who doesn’t want to?

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

You yourself grew up with a fear of nuclear war. This fear is often used as an argument by those who oppose arms sales. You draw different conclusions. why?
As a child, I had a recurring nightmare: a nuclear bomb fell right into the strawberry bed behind our bungalow. It seems harmless, but the dream was a horror. Fear was very real in Eastern times. I still have it.

But?
The only problem is that a person who constantly lies, behaves completely unexpectedly and does not follow any rules, will also find a reason in everything and everyone to escalate the war. If our fear of telling Putin this stops enough, we will continue to play his game. There is a clever text by Vladimir Sorokin about this mechanism. Sorokin refers to the 1960s Larry Pierce movie, in which two hooligans rampage on the subway, and since no one is opposing them, they become more and more aggressive, simply because they can and no one can stop them. The comparison with Putin’s behavior makes sense to me. It has been this way since 2008, experts say. Each time Putin escalates, he acquiesces or accommodates. This is why my fear of the atomic bomb doesn’t lead me to say: Let’s back off.

Jürgen Habermas and Alexander Kluge see it differently. One can only learn from war how to make peace, says Kluge.
This is a beautiful and basically correct sentence. But what does that mean now? Can Putin tear Ukraine to the ground because it is a nuclear power? and then? Peace at any cost does not seem to be the answer to me at the moment. Weren’t we happy about stopping Hitler? I find the idea of ​​us sitting at the same table with Putin and only accepting that he is expanding his terrorist regime appalling. I have the uncomfortable feeling that such a peace would primarily calm things down for the time being.

The end of the war will at least end death on earth. No more bombs.
I can think of a meeting. On a reading in Vienna, a Ukrainian author came to me and thanked me for speaking in favor of an oil and gas embargo in the Federal District some time ago. We are not the ones dictating to Ukraine how to move forward. It is Ukraine itself that says: We must defend ourselves, otherwise it will be dark. If the Ukrainians ended the war with concessions, people would still be kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed. It just doesn’t stop. The Putin regime will not be frozen in this way.

In your novel, Blaue Frau, you describe a Europe of two classes: the East is subservient to the interests of the West. Does this not appear again?
This was actually evident in the political position of Germany from the beginning of the war – which, along with Italy, was among the last countries to agree to the sanctions. An absolute lack of solidarity with me, an economic thinking driven exclusively by German interests, struck me. In such a situation, how could a country like Germany, with a special historical responsibility, hesitate for so long to agree to sanctions for fear of losing some of its wealth? I think we basically need a new political narrative.

Which novel will it be?
We need to move away from the rhetoric of economic growth, and instead of constantly drawing the demon of poverty and social unrest on the wall, I will endorse the solidarity narrative. across national borders. Now will be the moment when prudent policy combines efforts to save the climate with efforts to achieve energy independence from totalitarian and dehumanizing regimes, rigorously accelerated and framed as opportunity. The feeling of wanting to do something spreads rather than just watching helplessly. Politicians can learn about this much more. Now it’s back to the disaster of an East German oil embargo.

And it’s not entirely wrong.
Of course this is a difficult situation. But here, too, one can say: Let’s make something really new in a joint effort. Fossil energies are finished, so let’s become Schwedt’s pioneers. Changes are not alien to us, especially in the East. Let’s make something out of it!

You mentioned your first statement on Ukraine several times, angry rhetoric…
…I didn’t call it a letter of anger. Those were the editors, I found that misplaced.

So a distress message?
Yes, it is more similar to it.

It broke away from Germany at the end of March because of Ukraine’s hesitant policy. They signed, after Tucholsky: “Ravik stopped the Germans.” What will there be now?
Ravik was the only one who signed him at that time. Rhetorical hoax. I bowed slightly to hear the call for an energy ban. I am very engaged all the time. Hajar, this is not working. Better get involved.

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