The news of Putin’s war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked and alarmed many. Thousands of people have already taken to the streets in several German cities to demonstrate against the Russian invasion and against Putin. Berlin’s landmark – the Brandenburg Gate – was lit up with the Ukrainian national colors blue and yellow for the second day in a row. Protests also erupted in dozens of Russian cities. There were many arrests. Solidarity statements can not only be seen on the streets.
German-Russian Museum with a symbolic sign
In Berlin, the German-Russian Museum in Karlshorst symbolically changed its name to “Museum”. The inscription “German-Russian” in front of the entrance to the museum. In addition, the organizers of the museum removed the German, Russian and Belarusian flags that usually hung in front of the museum. Now only the Ukrainian flag can be seen there – next to three empty poles. Museum director Jörg Moreh told the daily in an interview that he wanted to set an example. The house considers itself an anti-war museum. The topics are Hitler’s Germany’s war against the Soviet Union and the end of the war.
Social media protest: peace instead of war
Many forms of expressions of solidarity can also be seen in social networks. Some users frame their profile picture again – this time with a small Ukrainian flag. This is now a well-established tool. The black tiles appear to be back, the black profile picture that was meant to express sadness in the attacks on the French editorial office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Or the death of George Floyd. What was striking on Twitter in the morning was that the word “peace” preceded the word “war” by hours in the most popular messaging trends. Certainly conscious resistance – against many dark messages.
There are also quite creative examples of how people express their solidarity with Ukraine. The art of British street artist Banksy is currently widely circulated on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. His photographs often comment critically on the war. A little mouse holds a sign that says “No to war”. Two braided tail girl hugging a bombshell like an adorable stuffed animal. Or a Stormtrooper in a white ‘Star Wars’ uniform with a brush in his hand, and red paint dripping from it. He painted the letters of the film series – to STOP Wars. All of these photos are being shared a lot at the moment.
The record cover of Tocotronic’s new album appears over and over again: “Never Again War.” The Hamburg squad named Käthe Kollwitz’s anti-war poster CD. And musically, John Lennon’s “Imagine” definitely tops social media. The song was composed during the Vietnam War in March 1971 and has become an eternal protest song and a symbol of hope.
How can these trends be evaluated? It is often criticized that such a black photo or frame on the photo is easy and quick to make – and that there is not much discussion of the actual content behind it. Perhaps this is also a new form of protest culture, which can have its own intense power. Which doesn’t happen on the street but on the internet.