A new Russian high school history textbook has sparked debate among historians and experts by describing the reunification of Germany as the "annexation" of East Germany (GDR) by West Germany.
According to DW, the textbook, published in September 2023, is authored by Vladimir Medinsky, a former Russian Minister of Culture and advisor to President Vladimir Putin, and Anatoly Torkunov, the rector of the Moscow Institute of International Relations.
The textbook argues that the reunification of Germany was not a mutual agreement but an annexation of the East by the West. It claims that this perspective aligns with the anti-Western narrative of the Putin regime.
The book also criticizes the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe in 1989 as an "ill-considered decision" that weakened the Soviet Union's military presence and led to a rise in nationalist and anti-Soviet sentiment.
German historians react
German historians and experts have criticized the textbook for distorting history. Ute Frevert, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, stated that the Russian interpretation is a form of "historical falsification" that does not align with the facts. Zaur Gasimov, a lecturer in Eastern European history at the University of Bonn, added that the textbook's perspective could be influenced by Russia's view on the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Interestingly, a Russian textbook from 2021 described the events leading to German reunification as a peaceful revolution due to a deep political crisis in East Germany.
The new textbook, however, promises a "deeper insight" and has been adopted into the curriculum as of September 1, 2023.