On May 9 Russia marks the victory over Nazi Germany and the end of World War II with a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square and celebration events all over the country. Victory Day is one of the biggest national holidays and Russians commemorate the 27(!) million victims the Soviet Union suffered in the deadliest conflict in history. Interstingly, most of the Western world is normally not aware of these numbers – simply because Russian make no fuss about it. The history is the history.
The point I want to make here is that despite the horrible sufferings and the truly huge number of victims, presently Russia and Germany are probably the best friends internationally seen. Apart from the personal friendship beween H.Kohl and B.Eltzin, G.Schröder and V.Putin, the trade turnover figures achieved between Russia and Germany last year were 33 billion dollars, according to Russian estimates. Are there many examples of other countries who had been in such a deadly fight before getting close friends? Unfortunately this is a rare example in the human history if we look at the war map of today… In the international friendship survey 2000 over 60% of Russians speak of their “friendly” attitude to Germans, although almost every family has lost its beloved members in the war. And many of the war generation (like my grandmother) are still there. How could they forget so fast?
The mystery of this fast revival of friendship between Russia and Germany may lay in the FORGIVING POWER of Russians. This rare nationwide quality can be seen also throughout the daily behaviour of the people (see more in my post about Russian Women here).
One possible explanation may be the tradition of the Forgiving Day. It is the original Russian celebraton, combining both Christian and pagan traditions that takes place before some time before Easter. On this day people ask each other to forgive voluntary or accidential injuries and forgive each other with the words: “The God will forgive you!”. Isn`t is beautiful?
I believe that this tradition worked out in the collective consciousness of the Russian people the pattern of forgiveness. The Western propaganda, however, is doing a great job working on the image of the “evil Russians” – thus such precious fact of a nationwide forgiveness are almost unknown to the world. Unfortuntely, since 10 years of my living abroad I have NEVER seen any postive TV /newspaper report on Russia, only negative or neutral ones. No wonder, the folks believe in evil nature of Russians 🙂 But we are not evil! Russian people have a good forgiving heart and a good will.
In my own family this Russian-German realtionships worked out in a truly amazing way: German language is my favourite, I live in Austria (German-speaking), have many Germans as friends, my aunty is a Professor of German and my sister is married to a German (it means my grandma who had to fight against Nazis as a young girl, has a German grand-son-in-law).
Every time I see the conflict between nations (like Arab-Israel, Afrika, etc.) I ask myself – IS IT TOO DIFFICULT TO FORGIVE? Thanks God, I am born Russian.