Neutrality, Guilt and Working for Peace in Psychodrama and Group Therapy


On the development of peace-ethical attitudes of international group therapy associations in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine

Author: Manfred Jannicke, February 2023

Article in russian and ukrainian language:
Яаннике 2023 Нейтральность, чувство вины и работа на благо мира в психодраме и групповой терапии
Янніке 2023 Нейтралітет, почуття провини та робота для Миру у психодрамі та груповій терапії

Preliminary remarks

Soon after the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, discussions began, especially in the international associations IAGP, FEPTO and PAfE, about meetings between psychodramatists and other group therapists from Ukraine and Russia. Many Ukrainian colleagues pointed out that such encounters are impossible for them, a torture, as long as the Russian Federation’s attack in violation of international law continues in full force, with all its brutality, unspeakable crimes and the declared intention to “wipe out” Ukraine, including its entire current and historical culture (WOLOCHNIUK 2022). Nevertheless, some of them have been downright demanding the maintenance of Ukrainian- Russian encounters. For example, in a Facebook post in which the impression is summarised as the result of a workshop at the IAGP Conference 2022 in Pescara that “if the people in Ukraine and in Russia do not let split them, and keep the bond together, the power has no chance to … rule over them” (ZURETTI 2022). This is understood by the vast majority of Ukrainians as cynical, encroaching, misconceived solidarity and falling for the Russian imperial narrative. Such “neutral” positions are held within associations such as IAGP, FEPTO, less so in PAfE (or rather they avoid clear messages
directed against the Russian war of aggression). Other examples can be found in an international Googlemail group where, on the initiative of the IAGP board, questions are discussed such as: How do we define “peace”? or What can we contribute to building peace?
The greater part of the contributions will be more than sour grapes to all those suffering from acts of war, here are some examples:

  • “Peace is accepting what ‘is’ right now, first and foremost inside oneself, and thereafter inside others”.
  • “Peace is a calm nervous system and being that can see past fight flight ‘the other as a threat’ and hold witness to the unique and similar soul struggles of a fellow human being.”
  • “Peace is being still.”
  • “Peace is a natural state of mind at the deepest level.”
  • “Peace is equanimity, a skill to cultivate.”
  •  “Peace is the absence of conflict … It is a state of being whole, neither grasping or reaching for pleasure nor avoiding pain or discomfort. It is the acceptance of and finding the beauty in what is, in the moment. Peace is a momentary state, like the gap between the breaths, the time we just are between the thoughts.”
  • “Peace is when all people on earth are in dialogue with all people on earth. When they try to understand them and try to see the world through their eyes without judging or rejecting them.”(1)

And so forth.

Sitting in the basement of one’s home, hoping not to be the victim of a missile hit, rape or other war crime, these quotes sound cynical. To “accept what is”, to keep a “calm nervous system”, to wish for the “absence of conflicts”, to remain “calm” or even “silent” cannot be the right attitude in the face of an aggressor seeking annihilation. This would literally mean surrendering to one’s own death without resistance. To want to cultivate such an attitude as something worth striving for without appreciating the current circumstances is highly naïve, as is wanting to promote encounters between both sides of a current war characterised by such attitudes. Or, to let the best known Ukrainian author in the West have her say:

“Faced with the well-known American political scientist John Mearsheimer – who on the day of the Butcha massacre published in The Economist the article ‘Why the West is principally responsible for the Ukrainian crisis’, breathtaking in its naivety – I promised myself, even slightly grudgingly, that if the Russian army comes to Chicago and a platoon of soldiers unnaturally rapes him most personally, I will, if I am still alive, by all means write something about the ‘Chicago crisis’ and how it could have been avoided if only the Herr Professor had sat still. “ (SABUSHKO 2022, P. 101)

Motives such as: Making contributions to peace, or: avoiding the bystander role (2), are of course fundamentally ethically unquestionable. And it is also the role of the associations to facilitate meeting spaces for individuals from the perpetrator, victim and bystander sides. However, to want to do this without a clear positioning of one’s own, and to want to start it while the dying has not yet ended, is based on a problematic understanding of how to deal with perpetrators and victims during acute violent crimes, and a shifting of the guilt that has been brought upon oneself through inaction to a psychotherapeutic fantasy of omnipotence.

In times of war, there is a considerable risk inherent in every encounter between the parties, especially if it is not based on a clear designation of the aggressor and the event as “war” (3). If this does not happen, both the perpetrator and the victim soon begin to demand solidarity from the bystanders, often acting just as excessively- aggressively and ultimately as against the actual enemy.
Pressured in this way, the bystanders soon fail to support them, thus proving the victim side’s selffulfilling prophecy to be correct and unintentionally contributing to further hardening.


This text is written in the hope of influencing not only FEPTO but also debates within IAGP, which transcends psychodrama, and other psychotherapeutic associations.

  • Firstly, it is written for to the Ukrainian colleagues in the sense of a signal that they are heard and understood outside their country, by non-Ukrainians. A signal that they can feel the protection of real solidarity and, at least during the ongoing war, are not confronted with the
  • expectation of a perpetrator-victim reversal to show understanding for their Russian colleagues.
  • Secondly, it is an address to the Russian (and Belarusian) colleagues who, of course, insofar as they do not agree with the politics of their country, urgently need protected spaces. They are rightly horrified and overwhelmed by the extent to which they have to share responsibility (in the sense of collective responsibility) for the unfolding of power of the criminal and anti-human system at the top of their society through inaction. This cannot be taken away from them for a very long time – comparable to the relationship between Germans and Jews after the Second World War (4). They must be able to talk about the resulting fear, despair, grief, shame and feelings of guilt. They have to find their own way to live with it and cannot expect forgiveness or help from their Ukrainian colleagues, not now and not later. Even those psychotherapists and group leaders who think that the current Russian policy and war are good and/or necessary must have the prospect of eventually taking their place in the professional sphere again, simply because they are human individuals. However, they will have to concede: by virtue of their profession of wanting to heal people’s souls, they should never have advocated or kept quiet about war. That is a contradiction in terms.
  • And thirdly, this text appeals to all psychodramatic colleagues and those of all other modalities who see themselves as facilitators of dialogue and encounter. Of course: they, as those outside the war, also need spaces to connect, to conquer despair, to even feel that they can contribute and protect and use contact as a means of working for peace for the post-war period. But they, especially their federations IAGP and FEPTO, need to shape these differently than they currently do.

As a German social pedagogue and supervisor, trained as a psychodrama trainer at the Psychodrama Institute for Europe, the author is familiar with most of the guilt-relativising strategies of repression, trivialisation and denial that demand a conclusion to Nazi history. With this experience of nationality in the background, it becomes a duty in the current war to raise one’s voice for Ukraine, lest that “inability to mourn” (MITSCHERLICH 1967) spreads, that lack of compassion and solidarity, which characterised the German nation for so long after the Second World War and hindered its civilisation.

On structure:

  • A first approach to explaining the current paradoxes is to try to explain the origin of the exuberant Russian hatred of everything Ukrainian in historical-ethical terms, including an excursus on the use of Ukrainian and Russian in international meetings. To this end: Of course, taking note of the current news situation would be enough to be stunned by the extent of the obvious hatred. However, the view into history is obscured by the constantly repeated reference in purely therapeutic settings to the importance of the “here and now”, so it is illuminated here for once.
  • Secondly, the positions of the trauma triangle (EICHEL 2014), which have already been mentioned, offer further possibilities for insight into the process of peace building and the recognition of guilt, especially with regard to settings such as the choice of time and content.
    It must always be kept in mind who a meeting is meant to serve and for what purpose – the target group and the purpose. Is it really about supporting people in acute danger from war, or is it more about the “victims” in the second and third line, who are watching from the outside, being shocked and having to deal with all kinds of feelings and actualisations of their own stories? Moral considerations are to be made.
  • Thirdly, the text will be concluded with some critical messages to FEPTO and IAGP.

1. Where does the inconceivable Russian hatred on Ukraine come from?

A look into history

Inferiority and guilt

On the one hand, the hatred of the majority of the Russian people, but especially of the ruling elite, is based on deep-seated, centuries-old Russian feelings of inferiority. On the other hand, it results from unconscious feelings of guilt, which are also historical, although they go back more to recent history. Both must be strictly suppressed to unconsciousness at all costs. This leads to the fact that the Russian self-image had to be exaggerated more and more until it turned into new violence. This results in new, more current guilt, additionally reinforced by the likewise unacknowledged fear of retaliation, which must again be warded off by (apparently) justifying self-aggrandisement. This closes a vicious circle from which extreme violence, war and inhuman occupation practices emerge.
The feelings of inferiority result from the fear that a perspective could possibly prevail according to which Ukraine, as an older precursor of today’s Russia, is the actual source of today’s  Russian nation (5). The defence against this inferiority would be a similarly devastating source of violence as the origin of the Christian faith from the Jewish faith tradition:

„Not you are carrying the root, but the root is carrying you.“
(Letter of Paul to the Romans. Romans 11,18)

Paul compares the Jewish faith with an old olive tree, but the new Christianity with a shoot that was only grafted into it afterwards. It is one of the darkest traditions of Christianity, interrupted only in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), to repeatedly forget and fight the inseparable connection with its root (6). Through history and mythology of all times, this motif shows itself in many forms: A (still or again) weaker new denies its roots and strives to eradicate them in order to be able to experience itself as powerful.

The strength of the collective (repressed!) feelings of guilt of the Russian nation, on the other hand, can be explained by the extent of the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian population by the empire of the Russian czars and, in the 20th century, by the USSR (and, since the winter of 2013, by its legal successor). Looking at this history, not only the strength of the Ukrainian need for an end to the suffering becomes clear, but also how the desire in the perpetrator nation not to have to deal with this history as the guilty party turned into new fantasies of destruction.

Once again, this historical view is in no way intended to neglect or trivialise current economic reasons for the war (mineral resources, the agricultural sector, the emerging digital nation) or those of the general maintenance of power. For example, a look at the radicalising Bashkir independence movement shows how important it is for the Kremlin and its supporters to suppress Ukrainian independence. If their struggle for freedom succeeds, not only the disintegration of the current Russian state is threatened, but, similar to the end of the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nations”, that of the Russian national narrative, which has been revived with such effort, according to which Russia is something sacred and God-given that can neither be destroyed nor be guilty.

The feelings of guilt and shame are certainly also triggered by how deeply the few critical Russian citizens slept through the Putinian transformation of their state from a nascent democracy to today’s dictatorship, a “paradisiacal state for any power-conscious executive” (Enzensberger 2011, p.53). And how little courage they acted and are currently acting in comparison to their Belarusian and Ukrainian neighbours.

Inferiority and megalomania

It is generally known that feelings of inferiority can turn into the opposite: into selfoverestimation, arrogance and megalomania, into arrogance, snootiness and complacency. The delusion of grandeur arises in the sense of a compensatory reversal into the opposite from the need to reduce the tormenting experience of inferiority (or better: the tension between the self-ideal and the real experienced ego). Chronic feelings of inferiority cause a variety of concealment and compensation reactions and thus have massive effects on life and personality. The only effective remedy recommended by the Swiss philosopher Häberlin: “Prevention and healing must aim at the root, that rotten compromise, […] with all the suggestions, false ideals and self-deceptions that favour it. As a rule, it will require outside help […] that the human being learns to summon up the courage and the will for moral struggle again, precisely at the point where he […] has failed so far. For the cure it is not necessary that he should no longer be defeated in the future. […] Overcoming resignation is the essential thing.” (Häberlin 1947, pp. 60-62)

On the turnover of the individual reaction formation to groups and societies, the Swiss psychotherapist Itten defines: “Delusions of grandeur are the overestimation of the ego and the attempt to convince other people of one’s own fantasised grandiosity” (Itten 2016, p. 179). This can go so far that those affected completely “infect” other people in their environment with their delusion. For example, this is often the case with cults, prophets or religious leaders – here delusions of grandeur often appear in the leaders. Violent groups usually represent clear value systems from which their superiority over other groups emerges. As sociologist Chirot of the University of Washington in Seattle explains in his book “Modern Tyrants”, proud nations often wage war because they do not feel they are being treated with due respect and their actions are subject to insufficient control (Chirot 1994, p. 34).

Danger comes from those who think they are better than their fellow human beings. Even without being attacked, without real exposure of the emptiness of their representation, they feel threatened. As a result, more and more get caught up in the idea that they have to defend themselves. They tend to no longer even notice that it is they who are attacking. Once the fight has begun, every action by the other side that feels compelled to fight back becomes, in the sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy, proof of the necessity of the fight. The inability to see others as equals – in this case the Ukrainians – is the real reason behind the current breakdown of civilisation in Russian society.

Additionally: The world of today is undergoing such rapid, profound change, so that barely anything, not even the superiority that comes from mineral wealth (7), is certain any more. As a result of that, there is a temptation to extract a feeling of self-security from within. So here, from the very roots of the inflated national self-image, those who feel threatened because „their“ resources, prestige, real power  and ideological consistency are dwindling.

The Ukrainians have recently countered this Russian megalomania, which has led to the nightmare of the current war of aggression, with the power that has grown out of centuries of inferiority, exploitation, oppression and mass murder, which Eleanor Roosevelt summed up in the following sentence: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Roosevelt 1937, p.183). Their history of suffering gives them the power to fight back that surprises the whole world. What is also new is that they are supported in this by the majority of states quite unanimously – which has turned this war into a new bloc confrontation that, for the first time since the end of WW2, raises the ultimate (nuclear) question of the existence of humanity.

The roots of Ukraine and Russia as a prehistory of this war.

Let it be said at the outset: A short contribution on the prehistory of the current war, which spans several centuries, if not a good millennium, cannot, from the point of view of an author socialised in Western Europe, fulfil any claim to completeness. Only a few insights should be ventured in order to make the frightening destructive power and the risks of this war comprehensible. This is significant against the background of Moreno’s finding on the potency of differences between the revealed social structure and its underlying sociometric matrix: “The greater the contrast between official society and the sociometric matrix, the more intense is the social conflict and tension between them. Social conflict and tension increases in direct proportion to the sociodynamic difference between official society and the sociometric matrix.” (MORENO 1981,P.177)

Ukraine and Russia are looking back on more than a thousand years of common history, roughly since the rise of Kyiv (8) as an important trading centre at the end of the 9th century AD. After the Grand Prince Vladimir I forced the conversion of the hitherto pagan Rus to Byzantine-style Orthodox Christianity through a mass baptism of the population in the Dnipro around 1000 AD, the city was strongly fortified and expanded under his son. The very first East Slavic library was founded. In the 11th  and 12th centuries, Kyiv’s growth as the cultural and economic centre of Kievan Rus reached its first peak of development. It became one of the most important and largest cities in Europe, the “Old Russian Empire” being the common starting point of the history of present-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Before Ukraine was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the middle of the 17th century (which had grown stronger since around 1250, especially around Novgorod) it belonged to the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania for a good three centuries. Central European intellectual currents such as humanism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the Baroque, as well as institutions such as city law, found their way into Ukraine. Then 1654, after the Ukrainian Cossacks had freed themselves from Polish rule and wanted to establish an independent federation, the hetmanate, they submitted themselves to the Russian tsar in search of protection and peace.

In this context it is worth mentioning that these “Zaporozhian” Cossacks regarded this  annexation as the result of negotiations among equals, while the Tsar’s family interpreted it quite differently, namely as subjugation. Even then, the Russian ruling dynasty house simply lacked the ability to even consider another power as an equal, a strong tradition of colonial ignorance.
Accordingly, the hetmanate was soon dissolved and most Ukrainian territories fell to Russia. In the same period, what is now eastern and southern Ukraine (with Crimea) was settled by the Ukrainian and Russian rural population and came directly under Russian rule.

The empire of the Russian Tsars guaranteed political and cultural autonomy to the Baltic States, Finland and originally also Poland. Ukraine, on the other hand, was directly incorporated into the Russian administration, the Ukrainian nobility was “russified” and the Ukrainian language was devalued to a “peasant language”. Ukrainians were not even recognised as an independent people, but only as part of a nation that consisted of “Great Russians” and so-called “Little Russians” (meaning Ukrainians and White Russians). When a new Ukrainian national movement arose in the middle of the 19th century, the so-called first national renaissance, it was harshly suppressed because it endangered the unity of this “all-Russian nation”. The printing of Ukrainian-language writings, Ukrainian schools and even the use of the name Ukraine were banned. This is the imperial, tsarist root of the narrative, revived by the current Russian president, that Ukrainians are actually Russians.

When the tsarist empire collapsed after the Russian revolution, Ukraine initially declared itself independent, but was soon occupied by the Red Army. This period saw, on the one hand, the recognition of Ukraine as a nation up to its founding as the “Ukrainian Soviet Republic” and, on the other hand, the brutally suppressed “second Ukrainian national renaissance”. The literary figure Oleksandr Oles (1878-1944), who wrote the poem “Europe was silent” in 1931, is to be counted among them. This poem is included here because it sheds light on the immense chagrin with which today’s Ukrainians view the West’s almost century-long reluctance to stand with them in solidarity (Prosto-Virshi Blog 2015, translator unknown).

Europe was silent.

When Ukraine fought for its life,
fought against tortures violent,
and waited, hoped – they’ll sympathize,
Europe was silent.
When Ukraine in blood and tears,
was dying but alive yet,
a friendly help still hoped to see,
Europe was silent.
When Ukraine worked as a slave,
toiled in a yoke of iron.
And voiceless rocks could not that bear,
Europe was silent.When Ukraine that harvest reaped
but was in starving dying,
and lost all words – no food, no seed,
Europe was silent.
When Ukraine became vast grave,
an empty waste turned my land.
And even evil ones would pray,
Europe was silent.

From the 1930s onwards, Ukraine was demoted to “little sister”, belittled, dominated and exploited by the “big brother”, the Russia of the Bolsheviks, and again subjected to “Russification”. Then, when under Stalin the Soviet purges and forced collectivisation led to a massive reduction in agricultural yields, Ukraine with its particularly fertile soils was literally starved (Holodomor). The borders were closed so that famine refugees could not leave. Bolshevik brigades systematically looted the settlements, murdered hundreds of thousands of dissenters, abandoned starving people to die on the looted empty land and left the rest to die of typhus. The British historian Robert Conquest put the total number of victims in the years 1929 to 1934 at up to 14.5 million people (CONQUEST 1986) including the victims of collectivisation, so-called “deculacisation”, disease and loss of births. In almost unbearable detail, with many quotations from original sources and terrible pictures, this can be read in the “Black Book of Communism” (COURTOIS et al 1997). Or directly in the National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide in Kyiv.

A few years later, what preceded the industrialised murder of Jewish people in the German concentration camps began on Ukrainian soil: the “holocaust by bullets” (Popovicz 2022), which claimed the lives of more than a million people (9). According to the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, six million Ukrainians fought against the Nazis in the Red Army (10). Although, as non- Russians, they were increasingly sent to the front, their contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany was not recognised as a Ukrainian contribution. Only one in two of them returned alive. And of those who remained alive, one in two had permanent physical injuries.

During and after the Second World War, the Soviet regime also arbitrarily deported a large number of ethnic groups in ever new waves to the Siberian camps, where they died in large numbers, including an unknown number of Crimean Tatars, Crimean Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks and Kurds from what is now Ukraine. Even in the post-Stalin period (during which indeed killing quotas had had to be observed without the individual persons being seen), the brutal repression and murder of opponents of the system continued until 1985 (11), when once again a group of Ukrainian writers and opponents of the regime disappeared in camps and psychiatric hospitals solely because of the use of their language, as well as for the suppression of criticism after the catastrophe at Tschernobyl. The number of victims is not known because some archives are still inaccessible or have been completely destroyed.(12)

Conclusion 1: The historical imprints of brutal imperialism on relations between Russia and Ukraine are still effective today. Large parts of Russian society have not come to terms with the fact that Ukraine is an independent state. They continue to regard Ukrainians as part of an Orthodox Russian nation and the Ukrainian language as a Russian dialect. According to the most recent surveys, up to 80% of the Russian population agree or at least do not disagree with the actual politics of their government. Yes, all media are controlled by the same government, which means that there is hardly any possibility of obtaining information from independent sources. But anyone who wants to, can access free media in Russia via a VPN tunnel (13).

Even if Ukrainian politics has been portrayed in the Western European and American media since around 2004 (“Orange Revolution”) as a largely united state seeking its own democratic path, predominantly oriented towards the EU, it must be stated that this does not apply at all in Russia. In its relations with Ukraine, Russia, and by no means only the Russian leadership, claims a hegemonic position (14). The Ukrainian claim to national sovereignty as such is understood as a declaration of war.

Conclusion 2: The popular uprising Euromaidan – the so-called “Revolution of Dignity” -represents the clear turning point of the country towards Europe. It began after the still-incumbent Russian president increased the pressure on the then Ukrainian president Yanukovych in 2013 with trade sanctions, import bans and anti-EU propaganda, and the latter surprisingly did not sign the Association Agreement with the EU, which was ready to be signed. On average from 2004 to 2014, only 30 to 40% of the population approved of EU integration (Pleines 2017, p. 18). In the immediate aftermath of this uprising, Russia’s war against Ukraine began in 2014, resulting in a total of about 14,000 casualties by 24 February 2022. When Ukrainians today are asked whether they support Ukraine’s independence or not, almost all of them agree (86% definitely and 11% somewhat).
Compared to last year 2021, this indicator has increased from 80%, and compared to 2012 from 62% to 97% (data: Sociological Group “Rating” Ukraine 2022). In other words, in the period of the Russian war against Ukraine since 2014 (through it!), a completely new Ukrainian national consciousness emerged and a determination to no longer put up with colonisation by the self-proclaimed “big brother”.

In the spring of 2021, during a visit to the Babyn Yar memorial in Kyiv, the author of this text heard the following statement: “We Ukrainians expect a catastrophe to befall us at least once a decade, an attack, oppression, exploitation, a policy of extermination or the like. At the beginning of 2022, this would more likely mean: we must end this now and forever. We don’t yet know what Ukraine’s place in the world may ultimately be, but we will endure and we will not allow ourselves to be crushed and subjugated any longer.”

An excursus on language (which language can be spoken in international encounters?)

Using the Russian language as a lingua franca in international meetings is a problem. It is more than a neutral common language of exchange between people. It is the language of the state that wants to wipe out Ukraine and its language. It is the language of the perpetrator. This content is transported in the act of speaking, whether the person speaking wants it or not. If people want to communicate with each other, they can of course include people who can or want to express themselves only in Russian. At the very least, however, the Ukrainians present must be free to decide whether they want to be there and listen.

Here, too, a brief look at the imperial history that still has an impact today: In the late Soviet Union, Russian was the common and every day language, while Ukrainian was only preserved among the peasant population and the few nationally oriented Ukrainians in the western regions that had only been annexed by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The state, which became independent in 1991, declared Ukrainian the state language in order to free it from its subaltern position. This was only partially successful. By 24 February 2022, about half of the population in eastern Ukraine still declared themselves native speakers of Russian, while Russian dominated in the cities of eastern and southern Ukraine. However, bilingualism was widespread.  n the streets of Kiev, one heard as much Russian as Ukrainian. Ksenia Turkova, host of Kyiv’s Radio Vesti in 2017: “Ukraine is probably a unique bilingual language area in the world. According to opinion polls, Ukrainians usually don’t remember in which language they have just seen a film if you ask them right after going to the cinema.” Today, at the beginning of 2023, most Russian-speaking inhabitants of Ukraine are loyal Ukrainian citizens, with only a vanishing minority still oriented towards Russia.

A no or a non-participation in those international meetings, which are only translated English-Russian, would have to be tolerated without judgement, without this being morally interpreted as a turning away from a peace-seeking attitude. And, of course, a translation would always have to be provided to enable participation in Ukrainian, even if the Russian language is well known. A mixed-national community would have to make it the free decision of each person whether or not to reject Russian as the language of the perpetrators.

2. Some moral considerations

When do perpetrators, victims and bystanders need to be able to talk to each other about what?

There are repeated calls to avoid “victim competition” at all costs. This means that Russian participants in the meetings, who also feel themselves to be victims of the murderous policies of their state, also need space. They also need to be heard and should therefore not be turned away.
They demanded that they should not be denied such space with the argument that it is first and foremost the Ukrainians who need the solidarity of the world. It is not too much to ask that the meetings be temporarily separated in order to avoid re-traumatisation (or in acute traumatic events: a renewed confrontation with the traumatic content or the [collective] group of perpetrators). The decisive aspects here are those of time, content and, of course, the purpose of such meetings:

As long as there are still acts of war and fatalities, as long as the illegal annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea has not ended, and as long as there is no de facto action of acknowledgement of guilt (reparation payments), the attacked side is entitled to protection.

While the war is still going on, while the killing is not yet over, it is a mistake to claim that reconciliatory, understanding dialogues acknowledging the suffering of both sides should be conducted. Perhaps this expectation of error arises because it is precisely psychodramatists and other group therapists who do so much to ensure that dialogues between members of different sides are successful after large group conflicts. And, of course, communication will be – at the very end of the day – the only means of bringing an end to war. But from the perspective of peace ethics, these are two kinds of dialogues.

Until the weapons are silenced, the only thing that can be discussed is when and how they should be silenced. In addition to concrete negotiations between the warring parties, there can of course be meetings with space for feelings, for solidarity, for the lifting of isolation, etc.. In these, however, the above-mentioned considerations for the attacked side must be taken into account (avoidance of retraumatisation). They are mainly to be offered separately. Or rather, someone from the opposing side can only participate on the condition that all participants wish it to be so (personal specific content). If it is to work, it can not be an idea dictated by the leadership or a conference organisation group. The leadership must even assume that even if they offer such an all-round open group, it will fail because of the possibility of meeting or participants will drop out because of this. The same applies for meetings, which officially ignore the factum of the war at all.

When the guns fall silent, a mourning period is usually to be respected, so that the  hatreds can subside and the conflicts do not erupt anew as soon as the parties come into contact again. It is not unusual for such a mourning period to last two generations.

During and after this mourning period, the parties to the conflict can initially only listen to each other about the suffering they have experienced, without comment. This is a great demand, very important and extraordinarily difficult. The victims must be prepared to confront their suffering over and over again. And the perpetrators must be prepared to be confront with their guilt again and again without being able to get rid of it or diminish it (for example, by distractedly focusing on their own suffering). The perpetrator side must understand that this listening will be part of their acceptance of responsibility until the victims can turn to other things. The same applies to the bystanders who could see but did not intervene.

The German psychotraumatologist D. Becker points out that forced reconciliation after psychological trauma is comparable to torture, as external will and foreign feelings are once again imposed on the traumatised individual. And that reconciliation is not “something that someone can orchestrate from the outside, because reconciliation should ultimately be a personal decision of the victims”. This quote is even too weak: reconciliation can only be a personal decision of the victim, otherwise it is something else. Namely: “The self-determination of the victims is the central issue. No one may force victims to participate, because that is the essence of their traumatic process. The compulsion to forgive and reconcile is comparable to torture, insofar as once again alien thoughts and feelings that are not one’s own are forced upon the psychic structure.” (Becker 2005, p. 174)

For centuries, the Ukrainian nation has been a highly diverse and complex ethnic, cultural and religious entity. These are good preconditions for making the tensions with its Russian neighbours tolerable again at some point. However, the situation is different from that in the Rwandan villages, for example, where members of different ethnic groups who had previously lived together as neighbours, had massacred each other during the civil war. They needed to find a modus vivendi relatively soon after that so that their lives could continue at all. Many village courts were set up there and ritualised reconciliation processes were carried out so that, for example, the children (soldiers) could be brought back into the national community, be cared for and be educated.

From now on, Russia and Ukraine have a different relationship to each other. The Ukrainians do not have to quickly find more than a non-violent coexistence with their Russian neighbours. Even the manifold family ties – which in themselves would have been an opportunity – have mostly been destroyed foreseeably for a long time by the war. In Ukraine, one will observe very closely what efforts Russians and the Russian society will make after the war to come to terms with their guilt. The Germans (in their overwhelming majority) have gone this way. They have been watched very suspiciously and this process has taken about 70 years (15). It has brought precise knowledge of the difference between collective and individual responsibility. Whether the Russians manage to acknowledge their responsibility collectively as a perpetrator nation and as individuals as perpetrators or bystanders will largely determine the form of neighbourliness that Russia and Ukraine will have in the future. If this does not succeed, there will be no lasting reconciliation and no real peace. This can be seen, for example, in the former Yugoslavia: Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia.

Aspects of guilt and its abrogation

With regard to the war crimes committed by the Russian military, the illegal occupation forces of the so-called “DPR” and “LVR” and the mercenaries associated with them, the guilt of the specific perpetrators should hardly be in question, since the documentation and presentation of their war crimes was and is being carried out with the cooperation of international organisations as quickly, comprehensively and thoroughly as perhaps never before in human history. Indictments are in preparation or have already been made.

With regard to political, moral and collective shares of guilt, it will be less easy. An orienting recourse to the writing of the German philosopher Karl Jaspers, published in 1946, yields illuminating distinctions and indications (JASPERS 1946, p. 31 ff.).

He resolutely opposes a sweeping collective guilt thesis by which “everything is drawn step by step onto a single level” and speaks of four concepts of guilt: criminal guilt, political guilt, moral guilt and metaphysical guilt (whereby the last two can fall into one from today’s perspective).
Differentiating considerations are to be made with regard to different shares of guilt, responsibilities, liabilities and punishments.

In application of Jasper’s considerations, all those who have committed concrete crimes against general criminal law, against the law of war or against the Geneva Convention have criminal guilt (16). The question will be how quickly those guilts become time-barred.

All citizens of the Russian Federation are politically guilty because they enabled or did not prevent the establishment of this state or its temporary functioning; this implies collective liability for the damage caused and its material reparation and, of course, also the recognition of the borders to be established at the end of the war.

Moral guilt can only be attributed to individuals; it results from such complex psychological phenomena as the convenient self-deception about the goals and inhumane practice of rule of Putin`s power apparatus, the unconditionality of a blind nationalist outlook, the “occasional inner alignment and acquiescence” with the existing system, complicity, etc. In order not to expand the concept of moral guilt too much, Jaspers also speaks of metaphysical guilt. He sees it as given where “solidarity with man as man” is lost, “if I survive where the other is killed”. The transfer of this consideration to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine might be appropriate in view of the centuries-old Russian ideology of family ties of nations. After all, this is used today in an updated form to justify the attack, consequently it conversely also has to be considered an indictment of a “fratricidal war”.

Jaspers already warned that the collective guilt thesis could all too easily have the effect of trivialising crimes committed by individuals because a nomenclature or all members of the nation or merely the one person of the dictator were burdened with guilt. He called for an honest selfreflection process (an inner moral conversion) of every human being with regard to the individual shares of guilt, whereby one’s own share of guilt must be conscientiously examined and confessed. A “memorial of thinking and feeling in our own inner being”, as the German President in office called it on the 40th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany (Bundesprä No judicial authority in the world can be recognised for this individual coming to terms with the past; it must be done on one’s own initiative and not under pressure from outside.

Like the German people, the Russian people will one day have to do the same towards the Ukrainians: firstly, acknowledgement of collective and individual guilt, including that which arose from passivity, and secondly, asking for forgiveness. German post-war history has been rich in resistance to this. Thus, repression, denial, trivialisation, even insults of those who apologised were the order of the day until German reunification. For example, Willy Brandt’s kneefall at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial on 7 December 1970 made him an international icon of a Germany ready to repent, but in his own country he was reviled as a godless traitor to the fatherland and his execution was demanded. The war had just been over for 25 years.

The distinction between acknowledgement of guilt on the one hand and forgiveness on the other has preoccupied German society up to the recent past. When the then German President von Weizsäcker described the Allied victory over Nazi Germany as “liberation” before the German Bundestag on 8 May 1985, he also spoke about reconciliation – probably knowingly ignoring that this can only be granted by the victims and only voluntarily, and cannot be demanded. But he described the Jewish motif of lasting remembrance as the “secret of redemption” and in this way linked the German self-commitment to remembrance, as it were, with the expectation of the Jewish people to grant reconciliation. And still he was criticised even for this, especially by his conservative party friends: The Bavarian party leader Strauß demanded that the past be allowed to disappear “into oblivion, or sinking into oblivion”, because “the eternal coming to terms with the past as a social perpetual task paralyses a people!” (Hofmann 1986). And a group of 200 federal and state parliamentarians spoke out against a view of history that was fixated only on Germany’s „liberation” by the Allied forces, because this could “not be the basis for the self-image of a self-confident nation”.

The truth is: such collective guilt remains for a long time and has the character of a paralysing burden. But this cannot be avoided. If the population does not face up to such an issue, the past continues to ferment in the collective repression and resurfaces in ever new variations. The demand for a final stroke alone does not put an end to it.

All this will also happen in Russia, especially since, seen from today’s perspective, the end of the war against Ukraine does not have to be anticipated as the complete collapse of the Russian state, but rather – whatever obstacles Russian domestic politics may face – as the end of the acts of war in the independency of its own state. In other words, even acknowledging collective guilt will not be as obvious for post-Putin Russia as it was for the FRG after the complete surrender of Nazi Germany. And Russian individuals will by no means all look at post-war Ukraine from the perspective of penitence. On the contrary, it will take a lot of courage for those Russians who were actually against it (and are today) to publicly acknowledge the injustice that has been done and the guilt they have incurred, and to be able only to hope for reconciliation on the part of those who have been attacked.

This brings us to the situation that arises when, in online meetings, members of two warring parties are called upon to “not let them split, and keep the bond together” (see above for a quote).
This attitude denies the intensity of the conflict, the historical depth and the pain, and is based on a simplistic pacifism. Such meetings, which are actually well-intentioned as an activity for peace or the experience of solidarity, put pressure on the Ukrainian and the Russian participants, whose participation is hoped for.

Can Russian participants say no to the war at all at the moment, while they have to fear being betrayed and accused of it? Can they really acknowledge their guilt without trivialising it, while at the same time, bombs continue to fall, while their country continues to bomb and bomb and torture and kill defenseless civilians and children?
And should Ukrainian participants really listen to their Russian colleagues telling them how badly they are doing with the war? How other than a reversal of victimhood should they experience this? Why should they, in view of what has happened, in view of their history, and in view of Russia’s official stance, accept this demand for pacifism that has been thrust upon them?

On the pacifism demand

The question of whether there is a just use of violence and wars has preoccupied humanity for millennia. Radical pacifism denies this in principle, but must accept the  reproach that by rejecting any use of violence, it may become jointly responsible if people are killed (Hinsch 2017, p. 59). Those who categorically renounce violence in the face of moral catastrophe par excellence cannot claim moral superiority for their stance. Even if a radical pacifist who were willing to let himself be killed in the case of an unjust attack, thereby paying the price for his own stance, he or she could only decide this for himself, but not demand it for the defence of others. Because then others would have to sacrifice the price for one’s own moral conviction. This is the situation of Ukrainians confronted with radical pacifism. Others (FEPTO, IAGP, parts of the German and international peace movement, including the German Protestant church leadership) demand – not outspoken but immanently – that they pay the price for their moral convictions with their lives. This is an expression of an ethic that is primarily concerned with one’s own convictions and not with morally responsible action that has in mind the consequences of one’s own actions – or omissions. An enlightened pacifism counters this:

If human rights such as the right to life, liberty and security of the person are indeed supreme ethical values, then it must also be permissible, at least in principle, to protect them by force of arms if necessary – even if this involves sacrifices and high costs.

The same lines of argument can be found in Catholic arguments on war. For example, in his 2020 encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”, Pope Francis “can no longer consider war as a solution, because the risks will probably always outweigh the hypothetical benefits attributed to it”. Given this fact, it is very difficult today to rely on the rational criteria matured in past centuries to speak of a possibly just war.” (Fratelli Tutti 2020, section 257) And further: “Every war leaves the world worse than it found it. War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful surrender, a defeat in the face of the forces of evil.” (Section 261)

In direct reference to the war against Ukraine, Francis takes the following position: “But we have strayed from the path of peace. (…) We have not fulfilled the commitments we made as a community of nations, and we are betraying peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of young people. (…) We have disregarded God, we have preferred to live with our lies, to feed aggression, to suppress lives and to stockpile weapons. (…) With wars we have ravaged the garden of the earth, with our sins we have wounded the heart of our Father who wants us to be brothers and sisters, (…) We have lost humanity, we have gambled away peace. We have become capable of all violence and destruction.” (Francis, 2022)

To the Ukrainians under attack, this position of radical pacifism appears to be pure mockery, because it denies their right to self-defence. Should they give up themselves, their lives, their freedom and their self-responsible development as a society, and surrender to colonisation by Russia? The Polish theologian Elzbieta Adamek denies this and problematises the “we” of this papal prayer. “Expressed in the context of war, in view of the victims who have to suffer or are murdered only because they belong to a certain people, because they live in concrete places in the present time, this “we” appears imprecise in a moral-theological perspective and insensitive from a human point of view. … What guilt do the murdered Ukrainian civilians bear? What guilt do he women raped by Russian soldiers and the children traumatised by the Russian war of aggression bear? What is the guilt of the sick and injured in the bombed hospitals on Ukrainian soil? What guilt carry those who starve and die of thirst, and those for whom no humanitarian corridors are opened?” (Adamek, 2022)

Adamek demands from the Pope exactly what the Ukrainian psychodramatists have demanded from FEPTO, IAGP and PAfE: Naming Russia as the state that is unlawfully trying to occupy the territory of another state, that is waging an unjustified war. And: distinguishing between Russian and Ukrainian people in the naming of victims and perpetrators. With this justification it is clarified that it is morally untenable to demand to avoid “victim competition” at all costs. There is a difference between a guilt-ridden Russian colleague who needs a psychological “safe space” for encounter and communication and a Ukrainian colleague who is threatened in terms of mere physical security in the meaning of danger and threat to his or her own life and the very minimum conditions for selfpreservation (housing, food, hygiene, integrity, protection of life). In the current situation, the Ukrainians are not primarily concerned with psychological mechanisms in the sense of “enemies within” in the sense of Dan Bar-On or Yaacov Naor.

In a real war, the psychological process is not in the foreground. To assume this would be a terrible misunderstanding. War, destruction, death, constant attacks and the absolute lack of security are the brutal, factual and psychological reality that is maintained everywhere in Ukraine, 24/7, with the strategic intention of wearing down the population. Ukrainians need all their energies at the moment to exist and survive as sentient human beings. It must be accepted if they protect themselves from attitudes or activities that expect them to endure encounters they do not want to have.

3. Some conclusions and messages to IAGP and FEPTO

It is clear that the anti-neutral (or “enlightened pacifist”) position formulated here strongly criticises the previous “apolitically silent” or „neutral“ position of FEPTO and IAGP in their failure to realise the adequate protection of the victims. (The PAfE has taken a position that clearly states solidarity with Ukraine [Kuchinska 2022])

In FEPTO and IAGP there still seems to be a majority for all-party openness. For the radical pacifist idea that contact and encounter must always be possible, always helpful, and that any turning away from this attitude is not helpful in the sense of an ethic directed towards peace. In the face of this war, it is clear that Western hemisphere-dominated conflict theory and practice has for far too long been under the illusion that existing conflicts can be solved or at least mediated by euphemistic relabelling, by persistently explaining them away and by ignoring (denying) them. However, the idea of Europe as a peace project of the Western hemisphere, which formed identity after the Second World War, has become obsolete not only today but at the latest since the war in the former Yugoslavia.(17)

Self- satisfaction?

Far too often, especially in the various support- or stabilisation- groups (or so called „peace task forces“), cloudy evocations of contact, encounter, love and spontaneity break out. This carries the risk of exacerbating conflicts and adding to the suffering already experienced. In these groups, a strange climate often arises, a climate that is in a way dislocated. It seems like it has to be dislocated from the terrible reality of war by all assuring each other of the best intentions with loving words, as if they really believed that this would change something in this war. As if participants actually can believe that if FEPTO or IAGP do not take a clear position on Russia, this would affect the war. Such ideas are distorted and distorting reality to such an extent that they need interpretation. As a matter of fact they have been openly called “masturbation” 18). Even if the author does not adopt this designation because it bears witness to too strong a counter-aggressive component, it must be acknowledged that it highlights the questionable nature of the inner reasons for this peacefulness, which disregards all brutal reality.

The white elephants in the room are probably called arrangement with self-exculpation and with powerlessness. If such groups refuse to acknowledge the guilt into which neutrality and allpartiality lead in the face of war and human rights violations, they probably reveal at the same time one’s own arrangement with the inaction loaded onto oneself. Like the Germans in the many years after the war, who practised every kind of self-deception so as not to have to admit it: Everyone knew, everyone together could very well have done something. But they didn‘t.

Applied to this war, this sentence reads: Since 2014, since the veiled invasion of Russian troops into eastern Ukraine and since the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law, everyone has known, that terrible injustice is happening there, and that it will continue to grow every day if it is not stopped. And everyone could know what prices Europe and the rest of the world would have to pay to put a stop to it:

  • Abandoning the idea that economic relations automatically lead to peace („change through trade“),
  • Abandoning cheap Russian energy, thus comfort and quality of life, which are literally paid for with the lives of Ukrainians,
  • Abandoning the idea that talking about peace automatically leads to peace.

Omnipotence of group therapy?

This results in a guilt that seems to weigh so heavily on the apologists for neutrality that they cannot even speak of it – but instead present neutrality and themselves as peace-bringers in ever new groups. A self-positioning that clearly shows the gap between the self-ideal and the feared external image. The more peacefully, the more firmly the assurances are given that they are on the right path, the louder the song of all-embracing love is sung, which supposedly solves all conflicts as the strongest or even sole force. As if in a collective compulsion to repeat, the picture that emerges is that of a professional scene that falls a prey of a self-aggrandising psychotherapeutic fantasy of omnipotence (an identification with the aggressor fantasised as superior?) instead of facing and talking about the terrible reality.

Peace = the lack of conflicts?

Peace, however, is not the absence of conflict. Only the real recognition of the terrible reality in a “true” encounter, including all accusation and guilt, can lead to “mutual acceptance, respect, recognition and love” (NAOR+GOETT 2010). However, the attempt to reverse this sequence, to reframe the encounter in a way that makes it effective for peace by asserting or invoking it from the beginning, furtherly victimises the victims and must lead to the opposite.

True encounter = responsibility!

In order to make true encounters possible, the spaces provided by IAGP, FEPTO or whoever would have to unmistakably name the war as war, the aggressor as aggressor, the victim side as the attacked, the civilisational relapse into barbarism as such. Only then would they acknowledge their responsibility (including their guilt) in the sense of Hans Falck. This group therapist, social worker and author, who was born a German Jew in 1923, fled to America on one of the last refugee ships in September 1939, returned as an American soldier in 1945, and unfortunately remained too unknown in Europe, wrote in November 1938, still in his home town of Hamburg, about individual responsibility in the face of the inconceivable: “These days I hear some people talking about the existence of a collective guilt. I think that the following story will satisfactorily clarify the argument about this and it will need no comment except the simple statement of facts… In the centre of Hamburg there are some large department stores which have Jewish owners. Early in the morning during that famous week, all the windows of these shops were smashed, while the shops were looted in a way that the city had never experienced before. Everything was stolen. Clothes, coats, food, toys, typewriters, shoes, hats, in short everything they could carry. (…) They couldn’t carry everything home. So the beasts came back and cut up the coats with razor blades and threw them into the river. (…) When you see all this from a psychological perspective, you wonder about human morality. Scenes like the ones I have described are in no way unique. They happened hundreds and thousands of times all over Germany. (…) I have never believed in generalisations and never will. But everyone is his brother’s keeper and tolerating such acts of violence, even if one does not currently participate in them, loads guilt onto oneself.” (quoted in Kunstreich 2022, page 35)

This guilt, the guilt of letting things happen, is also incurred by those who do not call war war, who do not distinguish between perpetrators and victims and thus do not recognise reality as reality. FEPTO and IAGP must clarify their position on these basic moral questions if they want to take responsibility as credible peace actors in this war. They must accept that there are things that cannot be done during the war.

Modernise conflict theory and resolution practice!

In a broader sense, the conflict theory and resolution practice of the last decades needs to be revised. For decades we have been taught (and still are!) that talking and negotiating with each other is always better than clearly confronting opponents, not only naming boundaries but also enforcing them. However, in order to enable negotiations among peers, it is not always the better strategy to evade and endure. Since the end of the Second World War, humanity (for the most part) had become accustomed to the optimistic idea that everyone refrains from using “evil” and that in armed conflicts both sides have a core understandable concern that can be negotiated (19). Under these (though never really brought about) circumstances, talking and negotiating really is better than confrontation: then the chances are good that a solution can be found at the negotiating table that both sides can live with, thus ending the suffering for all at the same time.

But for one state to invade another with the sole aim of expanding its own sphere of power, while simply denying the other entity and acting with unrestrained brutality against the civilian population – that creates a different situation. How difficult it is now to admit that under these circumstances, what Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said must apply again: “One must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim; silence strengthens the tormentor, never the tormented.” And this is in the sense that we are responsible not only for what we do, but also for what we do not do. We peace seekers recognise this now in and around the war in Ukraine. If the other side has decided to apply the law of the strongest, then an accepting attitude is tantamount to suicide or the acceptance of murder.

Between states, war is back as a means of politics. Thus it has again become highly questionable whether printed paper (treaties, e.g. the Budapest Memorandum (20)) is respected. The “peace dividend” has been used up. We must therefore develop a completely different theory of conflict. One approach to this could be to resolve conflicts concretely on a materialistic level much earlier than before, instead of softening or prolonging them until all parties involved are so tired that they would rather make painful compromises than continue to argue. And this is done by including so-called “negative feelings” or behaviours such as envy, hatred, devaluation or evaluation. For this to be applied on a large scale, it would have to be learned and practised on a small scale, in microand mesosocial relationships. This challenges the notion, essentially based on systemic constructivist ideas, that the way a thing is talked about will change that very thing. In other words, as long as our conflict resolution patterns are not adapted to the new reality, we cannot at times encounter each other entirely peacefully or “non-violently”, or the nature of the encounter itself does not change the war.

The attitude of containment

Nevertheless: The history of the human species on this planet presents itself as a path of cultivation that, although looking back on many terrible errors and relapses, is nevertheless ultimately a path of cultivation. We, humans, are moving away from the animistic beast that devours its kind to the social being that will hopefully one day treat all others as equals with equal rights of self- realisation. Faced with the abyss of nuclear Armageddon, we are trying to become better at coming to terms with difference and competing claims in a non-violent way. Faced with the additional threat of annihilation from ecological catastrophe, we have an inherent energy that does not let us give up, even when civilisational regression becomes as acute as in the war against Ukraine. One of the social techniques we need to survive such times is to avoid or freeze each other out until contact and encounter become tolerable options again.

After all, both sides can get the offers they need. Those offers just have to be different and temporarily separated from each other and could thus have a greater impact. The only exception to this basic rule can be individual contacts with people with whom one has built up trust in advance, i.e. with whom one can assume with sufficient certainty, that they neither support the war in any way whatsoever nor trivialise or deny their responsibility.

Admittedly, limiting oneself to this is not, for the time being, a very far-reaching goal for large psychotherapeutic associations in terms of intended peace initiatives. But: Containment in such a catastrophic situation – taking on the projections without acting out one’s own emotions triggered by these projections – this would be a sufficiently honourable arrangement.


1 These seven and many other contributions in this Googlemail group were not submitted for publication by the authors, so they are listed here without authorship, only as content positions.
2 Definition Bystander laut Cambridge Dictionary: A person who is standing near and watching something that is happening but is not taking part in it.
3 Another demand made for the “solidarity test” is that for the conditions under which Ukraine is expected to resume peace negotiations
4 … and without questioning the singularity of the Shoa….
5 Indeed, the Russian ultra-nationalist Dugin, in his influential Geopolitika, invokes Kievan Rus as the source of the ancient Russian nation and of a “third, neo-Eurasian Rome”, in complete denial of the more than 1000 years of history that have passed in between.
6 And probably one of the eternal and seemingly incessant sources of anti-Semitism.
7 The industrial shift towards renewables is likely to be one of the reasons for choosing gas supplies as a weapon.
8 Epithet of the city of Kyiv: “Mother of all Russian cities”!
9 Not all of them were Jewish; large numbers of Bessarabians and Sinti and Roma also died.
10 The fact that there was collaboration with the Nazis in Ukraine, as in all other nations of Europe at that time, based on strong anti-Semitism (e.g. KLEVEMANN 2017, pp. 190-205, ALTHOETMAR 2019, pp.13-27), does not in any way justify the current Russian propaganda of the alleged infiltration of today’s Ukraine by so-called (or real) fascists.
11 Gorbachev’s takeover
12 Personal oral testimonies of Ukrainian citizens towards the author in the years between 2018 to 2021.
13 … or can ask some younger person to do it …
14 An insightful collection of concise information on Ukrainian politics and history can be found as “Ukraine in two minutes” on youtube:

15 Of course, there is still excessive nationalism, Holocaust deniers, all forms of racism everywhere and so on. But the majority of the German people reject it in general, even though, for example, the ultra-nationalist rightwing party that sits in the German parliament has won far more seats than its counterpart in the Ukrainian parliament.
16 , retrieved Oct 3, 2022
17 In fact, this was already contradicted by the Greek founding myth of Europe, in which Crete must be defended warlike against attackers for its protection.
18 Experienced by the author in the only working group openly addressing this topic at the FEPTO meeting 2022 – a scandal!
19 The “Harvard Approach”, see project/ , retrieved 20.1.2023


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Jannicke, Manfred *1965, Nurse and qualified social pedagogue. Psychodrama trainer (DFP, FEPTO), supervisor (Centre for Victims of torture, Berlin).

Managing director of a non-profit, diaconal association for child protection (especially taking children into care) and youth welfare (various specialisations, e.g. eating disorders, unaccompanied minors).

Board member Psychodrama Association for Europe e.V. and Berliner Rechtshilfefonds Jugendhilfe e.V., founding member PASSERELLES as successor to Traces of Holocaust (Naor / Gött).