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Living with the enemy? Ukrainians and Russians find common ground in Germany & More Germany News



Living with the enemy? Ukrainians and Russians find common ground in Germany & More Germany News

For a short while each Friday night, the world feels orderly as soon as once more at the Mayer household’s residence. For two hours there can be no information about the struggle, no footage of lifeless civilians and no unhappy ideas of residence. Instead, British comedic character Mr. Bean will maintain sway right here – he has turn into an necessary and recurring a part of this household’s weekend plans.

“When we watch Mr. Bean all together it just relaxes everybody,” Natascha Mayer mentioned. “It puts everybody in good mood and Polina’s laughter is so contagious that none of us can stop laughing.”

Mayer was born in the Caucasus however moved to Germany round 20 years in the past. Today she lives with her husband and two kids on the outskirts of Bonn. Since March 16, Polina, 12-years-old, has been the household’s visitor alongside with Polina’s mom, Anna, and her grandmother, Larissa. The trio fled the Kyiv suburbs to Germany, through Poland.

Ukrainian children sit on a bench at Berlin's main train station

About half of all Ukrainain refugees arriving in Germany are kids

The Mayers even have one other surname however Natascha was anxious about reprisals towards her household in Russia so requested DW use a distinct surname. But this household nonetheless needs to inform their story. It is one in every of worldwide togetherness and understanding, at the kitchen desk in Germany, lots of of kilometers from the struggle. They wish to present that Ukrainians and Russians can truly stay collectively in peace, now and in the future.

‘Why ought to we be enemies?’

For Natascha, as quickly as the struggle start, it was clear that she had to assist someway. For her, taking in some Ukrainian refuges is a type of protest in addition to a manner of displaying empathy with the folks of Ukraine.


“Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians – we all have such a lot in common in our cultures,” she mentioned. “I actually have to ask how we are actually different. And now, since this war began, we are supposed to be enemies? Why?”

The Mayer household cleared out their kids’s play room for the new arrivals. The kids truly needed to provide all of them their pocket cash, Natascha mentioned, laughing.

The names of the Ukrainian household are already on the Mayer’s letterbox. They anticipate that the two households will possible stay collectively for at the very least six months.

“So far it’s working out really well. It’s like our relatives came to stay,” Natascha mentioned. “We haven’t had a single conflict.”

‘It’s about character’

The Ukrainian ladies — Larissa, Anna and Polina — fled through Poland and Berlin, leaving their male relations, father and grandfather, behind in Ukraine.

Everyone in the momentary Ukrainian-Russian home speaks Russian. Anna has taken over in the kitchen as the ladies do not wish to be a burden on their hosts even when they’re nonetheless feeling traumatized by the journey and the struggle.

“We are very sad but we feel really  comfortable here and we have had such a warm welcome,” Larissa mentioned.


But is not it odd that they’ve fled Russian assaults and then have ended up discovering shelter with a Russian household in Germany? What do their household in Ukraine really feel about that?

Anna and Larissa do not assume a lot of those sorts of questions.

“For us, it’s no problem to stay with Russian citizens,” they mentioned. “A lot of Russians are actually leaving their own country in protest and to show they are with Ukraine. We are all human beings and it’s about how we treat each other. It’s not Ms Mayer’s fault that she was in Russia. Where we are born is simply where we end up. Character is another thing altogether.”

Natascha’s husband says that, as one would possibly anticipate, they do not speak so much about politics right here. Their positions are clear and everybody’s on the similar facet: Against the struggle and towards Putin. There is one ongoing query in the home although: When will there be peace?

The three Ukrainian ladies wish to return residence as quickly as potential. Polina has already spent just a few days in a German faculty and has just a few phrases of German. But when Natascha needed to register the mom and grandmother for an integration course, they thought there was no level.

“You don’t have to do that,” they defined. “We’ll be back home soon.”

Divided communities

In the three weeks that the Ukrainians have been in Germany they’ve come to know that the Russian expat group right here don’t all  share the similar opinions. On one facet, there are folks like Natascha Mayer, who condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and who’re sharing their very own properties with refugees. On the different facet, there is a loud minority who’re expressing their help for Russia in controversial demonstrations, waving enormous Russian flags.


Natasha has additionally discovered herself caught between those that empathize with Putin and those that oppose the Russian president. For years she has belonged to a WhatsApp group of pals with whom she studied international languages in Russia. Five remained in Russia, 4 now stay in western Europe. For two weeks, no person talked about the struggle. Natascha was the first to dare, and she criticized the invasion.

A pro-Russian demonstration in Stuttgart

Pro-Russian demonstrations have been controversial in Germany

“The friend who had the greatest career of all of us and who still lives in Moscow left the group in a rage,” Natascha mentioned. “On the other hand another friend wrote me privately that the situation in Russia was like Germany in 1937. One of the other women, who lives in Europe, has broken off contact with her family [in Russia] and wants nothing more to do with them.”

Of all folks, it’s Natascha’s Ukrainian visitors, refuges of the struggle, who consolation her when she despairs of the affect that Russian state propaganda is having on her buddy circle. People there truly imagine the lies instructed by a member of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany social gathering that white crosses have been being painted on the properties of Russians dwelling in Germany.

But it’s contact with her family again in Russia that upsets Natascha the most.

“This war is destroying families and dividing friends, depending on what their political position is,” Natascha argued. “But In this situation you cannot sit on the fence. You have to decide on one side or the other. My mother and I always fight if we talked about the war so we’re trying to avoided the subject as much as possible. They don’t even know that we have taken in some Ukraine in refuges,” she confesses.


This story was initially printed in German.

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