Selenskyj’s speech triggers a search for souls in Germany – POLITICO

Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s condemnation of his country’s reaction to the Ukraine war triggered a fit of national self-reproach in Germany’s political and media world.

In his speech to the Bundestag on Thursday, the Ukrainian president took a dig at what he called Germany’s “worthless” lip service to the Holocaust, a bitter indictment for his audience.

Zelenskyy, the Jewish president of a nation scarred by millions of deaths in World War II and the Holocaust, said Germany prioritized its own economy and energy purchases from Russia over a moral obligation to try to end the war.

It was a speech that should have sparked an urgent and honest debate among parliamentarians, commentators wrote in Friday’s newspapers. And it was “shameful” and “a disgrace” that such a debate never took place, it said.

“Zelenskyj’s speech was historic. The reaction in the Bundestag afterwards was a historic low, wrote Johannes Boie, editor-in-chief of Bild, Germany’s largest tabloid, referred to the German Bundestag’s decision to simply move on to other topics after the emotional speech.


Southgerman newspaper, one of the country’s leading broadsheets, headlined “Tear down this wall” with Zelenskyy quoting former US President Ronald Reagan, while her Chancellery correspondent Nico Fried commented: “What do we value peace and freedom?” Wouldn’t we have if others hadn’t intervened at the time?” He added: “Especially after Zelenskyy’s speech, the discussion on this would have been a real question of conscience debate – unlike the debate on compulsory vaccination, which Parliament instead devoted fervently to. “


On the evening news below public broadcaster ARDBerlin’s office manager Matthias Deiss said the speech would “resonate in the Reichstag building with its eventful history for a long time to come”. He touched on Zelenskyy’s historical references, adding that the Ukrainian president “deftly argued with our past to make clear what is at stake for all of us today.”

In left-hand traffic taz, wrote Sabine am Orde: “It would not have been easy to face this speech. But it is shameful that neither the chancellor nor any of the ministers spoke afterwards.”


Berlin daily daily mirror also focused on the chancellor’s failure to respond to Zelenskyi’s words. “These are days when Scholz doesn’t seem very strong in leadership, when he lacks the right instinct,” wrote Georg Ismar. “The day before, Zelenskyy spoke to Congress and then, unlike Scholz, US President Joe Biden was quick to announce another $800 million package containing anti-aircraft missiles, drones and thousands of anti-tank weapons,” he added.


The world‘s parliamentary correspondent Robin Alexander called Thursday a “black day for [Olaf Scholz’s] coalition” and “a shame for Parliament”. Alexander argued that “any admitted helplessness and ignorance would have been better than the incredibly embarrassing point of order that ensued [the speech].”


The federal government tried to defend itself against the criticism of the Ukrainian president.

“Mr. Zelenskyj’s speech was touching, insulting, accusatory and, from his point of view, certainly completely justified,” said German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck publicly Broadcaster ZDF on Thursday. “Not entirely justified from the point of view of the federal government in Germany, because Germany is doing a lot to support Ukraine and a lot of things that we thought were impossible weeks ago.” Selenskyj's speech triggers a search for souls in Germany - POLITICO

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