Putin was the ventriloquist, his stooge Sergei Glazyev the dummy. Fairness thus demands that the former be given credit for the words mouthed by the latter.
The words were inspired by President Poroshenko’s having agreed to sign a trade agreement with the EU, which angered the KGB colonel no end.
Hence, talking through Glazyev, he spoke from the heart: “They organised a military coup in the Ukraine, they helped Nazis to come to power. This Nazi government is bombing the largest region in the Ukraine.”
A reader not blessed with fluency in KGB language may require a translation. Here it is: any Ukrainian, or for that matter any denizen of any former Soviet republic, who opposes the KGB domination of his country is ipso facto a Nazi or, to diversify the vocabulary, a fascist.
It would be useless to insist on etymological precision – the KGB/FSB has its own lexicon that only ever overlaps with the accepted one by accident. However, if we insist on staying within the bounds of convention, Poroshenko is a centrist by any Western definition.
Moreover, the two Ukrainian parties that could be legitimately described in such disparaging terms collectively polled about 1.5 per cent of the vote in the last election. In Russia herself similar parties consistently claim the better part of a quarter of the electorate. Nazi-style marches are also much more popular in Moscow than in Kiev.
Never mind: Poroshenko’s government is resisting a takeover by the truly fascist gangs armed, trained, inspired and largely staffed by Putin’s sponsoring organisation. That makes Poroshenko a Nazi in the colonel’s eyes, and that’s all there is to it.
There’s a more interesting subject there, trying to emerge out of the blobs of KGB effluvia. Poroshenko isn’t even remotely a Nazi because he’s resisting a KGB takeover of his country. But is he one because he’s playing footsies with the EU?
In other words, is the EU a crypto-Nazi setup, a Fourth Reich achieved by stealth rather than violence? Is Angela Merkel in the direct line of descent from Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler?
It’s tempting to answer these questions with an unqualified yes and, at my lazy moments, I myself have yielded to the temptation. Yet such an answer is simplistic, perfectly acceptable in a dinner-table argument, but unfit for serious analysis.
The EU was brought to life by a confluence of factors, and some of its German founders were enemies of the Nazis. Konrad Adenauer, for example, was their vociferous opponent who only by miracle didn’t end up in Dachau with piano wire round his neck. As it was, he was arrested several times and had his job, house and bank account taken away from him.
After the war, as West Germany’s first Chancellor, Adenauer sought his country’s redemption for her wartime sins. The contemporary French leaders, such as de Gaulle, were also trying to heal their wounds, especially those inflicted by the country’s defeat in 1940.
I like to describe this meeting of minds epigrammatically: the Germans no longer wanted to be like Germans, but the French did. This confluence of subterranean emotional streams made both nations receptive to the rhetoric of the hardcore federalists committed to creating a single European state.
Now that group wasn’t as immune to accusations of Nazi sympathies as either Adenauer or de Gaulle. In fact it came together during the Nazi occupation of France, when the two bureaucracies were partly merged. Working side by side, they discovered they had much in common.
Nor could all of them be absolved of direct collaboration with the Nazis. For example, the Belgian Paul-Henri Spaak, one of the principal architects of the EU, had clear pro-Nazis sympathies and campaigned feverishly against Britain and France declaring war on Germany.
And Walter Hallstein, the first president of the European Commission, held a number of important posts under the Nazis. Though he never belonged to the NSDAP, he was a member of many other Nazi organisations and, in his capacity of law professor, preached Nazi legality to his students.
Personalities apart, the idea of pan-European integration was at the time the sole property of the socialist hard Left, be it in its national or international incarnation. Assorted Nazis and fascists espoused the principles of European federalism even before the war, and certainly during it. This was one debt of gratitude that Hitler, according to his recorded conversations, owed to Marx.
Our own Oswald Mosley, for example, was a keen federalist and in fact, as a foretaste of later publishing ventures, his newspaper was called The European. The Nazis also talked about a single European state in terms indistinguishable from those used by Barroso or Juncker.
In fact, if one juxtaposed the communiqué of the 1943 Nazi conference on united Europe with the text of the Maastricht Treaty, one would be struck by the similarity of both language and underlying animus.
Specifically, the EU programme of economic development follows faithfully the plans first laid down by Walter Funk, the Nazi Economics Minister. (Despite being as guilty as the other defendants, he was mysteriously spared the death sentence at Nuremberg.)
Thus, though it’s crude to equate the EU with Nazi Germany, it’s impossible to deny that a strong Nazi (or fascist, if you’d rather) strain has been present in that organisation since its founding.
The very notion of a giant corporatist state divorced from national accountabilities and dominated by a close-knit quasi-Gnostic elite has a distinct fascist ring to it. Hence, if one wanted to paint Poroshenko with the Nazi brush, one could allude to the nature of the organisation he’s so eager to join.
The accusation wouldn’t survive being held to the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt, but at least there would be some truth to it. However, such subtleties would take the functionally illiterate Col. Putin out of his depth. It’s so much easier to stick to the proven formula: anti-KGB means Nazi.
In their current mood most Russians are willing to accept such simplicity of political thought. Worryingly, so are some Westerners (Peter Hitchens, ring your office.)