News from Berlin

Defying Politics. The Year of German Language and Literature in Russia.

September 17th, 2014

News from Berlin – The past weekend, the city of Moscow was home to the official opening of the Year of German Language and Literature in Russia. In the middle of troubled times between Russia and countries affiliated with NATO, the German Foreign Ministry and the Goethe Institute decided to go ahead with the festivities, seeking the opportunity to for once defy international politics. In retrospective we can say that this decision has proven to be very fruitful indeed.

In fact, the weekend was a great success, with thousands of visitors showing up at the opening event in the popular Hermitage Garden in the middle of Moscow. All of these visitors were curious about, and highly interested in, German language and culture. The decision of the German government to go ahead with the celebrations came as a surprise to some. Earlier, the governments of both Poland and the United Kingdom decided not to go ahead with the festivities they had planned for respectively the Poland-Russia Year and the UK-Russia Year of Culture.

The belief of the Germany in spreading its culture is thus perhaps surprising to some, but nevertheless outstanding to many. This belief was put into words by as a member of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who stated that culture “is able to find new words, when politics runs out of words to say.” Despite European sanctions against Russia and vice versa, both Germany and Russia agree that the spread of culture should not be influenced by this. In the words of Michail Schwydkoj, Putins advisor on cultural matters: “Culture, Art, Education, these matters should not be part of any sanctions. To be honest, that would be absurd!”

The festivities in Moscow focus not only on the spread of German culture, but also on the understanding of the German language in Russia. While English is becoming increasingly important as a second language in Russia, interest for the German language seems to be fading a bit. The Goethe Institute in Moscow however is confident that, with the right amount of support, the German language can be given the attention it deserves.

It is incredible to see that in a world which is often defined by borders and interests culture still has the ability to spread across the globe, even building bridges while the water underneath seems to be rough indeed.

News from Berlin – Berlin Global