It may come as no surprise that West and East Germans have different assessments of Russia, the attack on Ukraine and the country that was attacked. It is easy to find many reasons why, according to the latest Germany trend, 58 percent of people east of the Elbe call for a cautious course towards Moscow, while only 40 percent of west Germans share this view. 53 percent of Westerners are even in favor of decisive action against Russia.

On the other hand, it is becoming more difficult to understand why Eastern European states such as Poland are more resentful of Moscow than former GDR citizens. Didn’t these suffer as much under the Soviets as their eastern neighbors? Didn’t they share the aversion to the Soviet occupation, which also crushed the freedom movement in their country in June 1953?

The answers are numerous and can only be conjectures. A deceptive longing for the past certainly plays a role in many East Germans. She gives a foothold to those who still feel alien in the West.

This nostalgia also includes the glorified view of the successor to the Soviet Union and the memory of one’s own school atlas with the European borders before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Affected by an arrogance that is rampant like weeds, many East Germans tend to ignore the states between Berlin and Moscow as terra incognita and equate Russia with the East, for which only Moscow can speak.

But there may be something more important that will affect the country for a long time to come. Unlike in Poland, the bourgeoisie and with it the sense of society has disappeared in large parts of the former GDR population.

Not a few feel the desire for the national community, the joy in authoritarianism, in the spirits of destruction and decomposition, in the forces of a value-neutral, democratically camouflaged nihilism. The AfD draws its strength from this feeling, just like the Putin understanders between Rostock and Radebeul.

“Kick-off Politics” is WELT’s daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.