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About 12,000 people, including dependents and family members, are in the service of the Consular Department of the former and future Russian Embassy, of Russian official institutions and enterprises and units registered with the Embassy. The Russian-speaking Jewish community amounts to 12,000 former Soviet citizens, and their relatives and guests etc. who do not live in Berlin permanently. Finally there are appr. 1.5 million Soviet immigrants of German descent, and the younger generation is more at home in Russian than in German. While these immigrants settled almost exclusively in Western Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this changed after 1990, and a considerable part remained in Brandenburg. There are also not a few Russian students in Berlin as the Free University concluded a cooperation agreement with St. Petersburg University quite a long time ago.
In addition there is an unknown number of Russian speakers from Belarus, the Ukraine and other CIS countries. The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel (June 26, 1997) mentions one million Russians (more correctly Russian speakers) in germany. We do not have any reliable figures for Berlin and Brandenburg but following Mezdunarodnaja ziznn; we may assume 200,000. But even if the correct numbers of Russian speakers who live permanently or temporarily in Berlin and Brandenburg should be lower, there is a sufficient reservoir to guarantee the commercial success of at least some periodicals in Berlin.
As to the «third wave of emigration» (1) it is to be stated with regret that major intellectual potential of this emigration passed Berlin by. Speaking of «three waves» of emigration, the first wave was the consequence of the Bolshevic revolution in Russia and it set off a veritable migration, and one of its major centres was Berlin in the 1920s; the second was a result of World War II, and the third was an outcome of the repression in the USSR, with a high tide in the 70s and 80s. Renowned writers then left the USSR. One has to keep in mind that on account of international pressure mainly Jewish citizens were allowed to leave the USSR. Also people of German descent, who were permitted to leave on the basis of a family reunion program, emigrated to germany in large numbers. One might speak of a fourth «wave» when people left their home countries for whatever reasons (mainly however economic), when the borders were opened during recent years. Such movements exist all over the world, and it is legitimate to seek better living conditions.
As already mentioned, the «famous names» passed Berlin by, among them Viktor Nekrasov, Aleksandr Solzenicyn, Vasilij Aksionov, Valerij Tarsis, Andrej Sinjavskij, Vladimir Maksimov, Vadim Krejd, Eduard Lomonov and many others who settled in France, Israel and the USA. For Berlin we may just mention the name of the writer Gorenstejn.
The readers of Russian newspapers and periodicals in Berlin are therefore a mixed lot. Few people from the first emigration wave are still alive, the second wave and their offspring stayed mainly in Paris and the USA, on account of the War, the post-war events and the special political situation of Berlin. Thus the major groups of readers of the newspapers and their targets are:
Russians who did not leave Germany after the collapse of the GDR, including some members of the armed forces
These potential readers are, with very few exceptions, not eminent personalities of Russian culture but mostly average citizens, not rarely with a university education. As to the people of German descent they are more craftsmen or from the agricultural field.
Thus a comparison should not be made between Russian Berlin in the twenties when the city was a cultural centre of the whole Russian intellectual life abroad. At that time there were appr. 75 Russian publishers and bookshops in Berlin. The leading newspapers were Nakanune, Rul', Dni, Nas vek and Novoe Slovo. Nakanune (1922-July 1924) among whose literary collaborators was Aleksej Tolstoj was the forum of the smenovechovcy (Change of directions) who believed in an approach [understanding] to the then Soviet Union, gradually accepted the October revolution and trusted in a harmonization between emigration and USSR. There were rumours that Nakanune was financed by the Soviet Union. Rul' on the other hand was the publication of the Russian Constitutional Democrats (Cadets), edited I. Gessen, V. Nabokov (father of the well-known writer) etc. The paper was published until 1931 owing to the financial support from Ullstein publishers.
Dni (oct. 1922-June 1925 in berlin, afterwards in Paris). The paper was socialist, or social revolutionary, on a «firm democratic foundation»; original goal was the «fight for the renaissance of a free Russia»; for some time Kerenskij, the only freely elected prime minister of Russia, was among its collaborators. Nas vek was published from Nov. 1931 till April 1933. The paper was anti-Soviet, relatively far rightist, nevertheless still on democratic ground; it fought the Bolshevik system in Russia.
Finally there was Novoe Slovo, a weekly published in Berlin from 1933 to 1944, a rightist paper which leant towards the Nazis, without, however, alleviating their distrust of the Russian emigration.
b) There is also a lack of reading public with a strong politcal motivation. As far as the potential is there, at least the older generation (the third wave of emigration) tended during times of politcal repression to seek refuge in intellectual emigration and deal with classic literature, bibliophily, exlibris etc. but not with politics or cultural policy.
c) Since the constitution of 1993 and the media law of 1991 and the Law on Information and the Protection of Information of 1995 Russia principally enjoys freedom of the press. It is well known, however, that the juridical practice is not in complete harmony with the written law. (2) Report which may be detrimental to the government or the president, are still subject to obstruction. The flow of information is channeled to a large extent, and the newspapers are under the influence of powerful groups from financial and government circles, with no clear borderlines between the two. Since Perestrojka the options of the press have widened enormously, nevertheless to say everything is hardly possible even now. Trying to break away from mafiose structures in the press world, or even attack them, is dangerous; not few journalists and editors in Moscow lost their jobs, some even their lives for such reasons. Therefore it is hardly imaginable that the foreign Russian tried to influence the political development in the Russian Federation massively and critically. The political and and financial power centres reach out into foreign countries. The role that traditional real emigré papers like Russkaja mysl' (Paris) and Novoe Russkoe Slovo (New York) used to play towards the USSR cannot be assumed by the new papers. Sometimes Novoe Russkoe Slovo is reported to receive financial support from Russia, but this cannot be substantiated. As to financing, there are also rumours concerning the Berlin papers. It would certainly not be out of the question that political reserve or influence of opinions might be paid for but at least the librarians would not be able to prove anything.
The following papers are, or were published in Berlin:
The first edition which was published on May 25, 1993, stated explicitly that a continuation of the tradition of the twenties was intended. This, however, is hardly possible as explained before. The current edition is 40,000 copies in germany and 70,000 worldwide (including Russia); thus it is the Russian newspaper with the widest circulation in Germany and it occupies a good position on the market. The editor-in-chief is a professional who used contribute to numerous Soviet periodicals (Trud, Gudok, E?kran, and more recently Nase nasledie, a renowned cultural journal).
The dismissal of the government in Russia and the appointment of Kirienko as prime minister is reported on the first page, but without comment. There is nothing on the ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court on the so-called trophy art, of April 6; but reports suffer from a considerable time-lag. The Moscow events happened one week ago and were publicized by all TV channels.
There is no indication why this newspaper exercises such political discretion, if perhaps financial support might play a role in it. Such suggestions might already be dangerous.
Another Russian newspaper has been published since 1996:
This paper seems more «political» than Evropacentr, which is substantiated by a comparison of two numbers from the beginning of April. On the page one the question is raised whether Russia could still be considered sound and rational when a member of a «totalitarian-fascist sect» [i.e. scientology] was to fill the second important position in the country [Kirienko]. There is a critical view on the German home minister's policy towards immigration, and the subject Vatican and holocaust is dealt with. The paper is much more outspoken than Evropacentr. News and comments of the political events in Russia cover a large part. Otherwise it is similar to Evropacentr, also regarding the ads. It offers not only 8 more pages but also more substance for a lower price. It seems, however, that Russkij Berlin is struggling with economic problems.
The third Russian paper is
Unfortunately it only had a short life. Economic difficulties ceased its publication as of the beginning of 1998.
Three «journals» are published in Berlin:
There are two papers of the Jewish communities in Berlin and Potsdam:
This is true even more for the only recently established paper of the Jewish Community of Berlin, which is published in German and Russian:
Besides Alef-Bet I know of one other Jewish paper in Russian:
These Jewish Russian language papers compete with the major US Jewish papers with an international circulation, namely Alef. The only Jewish ---- in Russian worldwide. New York 1981- and Russian Forward. Forverts. Vpered. New York 4/1987-
So far there are no papers in Berlin and Brandenburg targeted at immigrants of German descent from Russia and CIS countries. Readers depend on papers published in other parts of Germany:
These papers especially catering to German immigrants also offer political news to a small degree, but on a rather low level. Reports on juridical and social adjustment problems are dealt with in detail, the same goes for entertainment, daily life and advertisements, oriented towards the interests and needs of immigrants who have familiarise themselves with new political, social, cultural and last but not least language surroundings. A part of the papers is bilingual, German and Russian. The papers also cater for readers of non-German descent and are accepted by them, as far as I know, whenever other papers are not available; that applies mainly for small towns and rural areas.
The question is why there are so many papers of this kind. To my knowledge the reason are subsidies by the home ministry for such immigrants. From a strictly commercial point of view so many papers for a limited audience would not be able to survive.
The future development will depend on several factors. The most important one: the political move of Russia towards a functioning democracy which would not need a critical exile press, only information media for expatriates or foreign editions of Russian papers. Another factor is the growth of still rather provincial Berlin to a real capital and cosmopolitan city. It seems that at least the nucleus of a resuscitated Jewish cultural centre is noticeable in Berlin. German Jewish bourgeoisie was eradicated by the Nazis, and not much of the tradition was left. What is developing in Berlin now (Museum, Centrum Judaicum, central archives, Jewish community with library and cultural activities) is a slow growing cultural bud. It receives its intellectual potential mainly from Eastern Europe, especially the Russian language area. When the «well-known names» will no longer pass Berlin by, this might be a force to fill press with new life. On the other hand, it is quite normal that the editors make the best use of their business opportunities.
The Berlin State Library is not a legal deposit library but nevertheless sees the responsibility of acquiring the Berlin Russian newspapers as complete as possible, in order to preserve source material. One aspect is the tradition of the twenties - and the library has considerable respective collections - the other to provide a documentation of today's Russian language scene. Newspapers belong to the most sought after sources, and to provide materials and services we consider our responsibility.