The Russian-German high school named after Lomonosov is once again at the centre of a scandal. The first time, on 11 March, an evildoer set fire to the door of the school gymnasium to protest against the special military operation in Ukraine. Now an inscription has appeared on the pavement in front of the same gym calling for Russian children to be hacked to death. The inscription is chalked on the pavement and contains no grammatical errors in Russian. All this takes place on the campus of the Lomonosov Russian-German School, which is located in the Marzahn district, where late repatriates from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine live in large numbers. The Lomonosov School is actually a network of three schools in Berlin.


The main target of terrorist attacks – and terrorism is both intimidation and acts directed against Russian children, their parents and the school itself, which fall under this article of the Criminal Code – was the Marzahn campus. 


The campus is a very extensive project by East German standards. The multicultural and multilingual educational complex combined a German-English-Russian kindergarten, an all-day school and accommodation for the children. The campus is a project of the Society of Russian-Speaking Parents and Educators in Berlin, MITRA, in Germany. In close cooperation and with the support of the Russian Embassy and Rossotrudnichestvo, the organisation has built up a network of kindergartens, schools and Russian cultural centres in Berlin, Potsdam, Leipzig and Cologne over three decades. Apparently, the connection of the organisation to the Russian Foreign Ministry was the cause of the regular attacks on the campus. 


After the arson, the school authorities refused to accept an offer from the parents to charge an additional fee for round-the-clock security at the Berlin schools, which, incidentally, are attended not only by Russian-speaking children but also by children from German families who want their children to have a Russian education with serious mathematics, science and literature lessons. Incidentally, the subject of literature does not exist at German schools. And according to various government studies, the vast majority of fifteen-year-olds in Germany today can only read in syllables and can neither work with literary texts nor express their thoughts clearly. 


Forgoing the constant guarding of the schools, the administration decided to organise a large concert on the campus, consisting of artistic performances by pupils of the Lomonosov School and creative groups organised by Russian educators from Berlin. The concert took place under the motto “We are for peace” and was broadcast on the school’s website. Berlin politicians were present at the concert. In their speeches, the latter stressed the inadmissibility of discrimination against Russians, because (to quote one of the speakers): “This is Putin’s war, not the Russians’!”. No representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo or the Russian embassy in Germany were present at the concert. What is happening here would have been logical for a hippie movement, but to adults such a reaction to the arson seems infantile. 


Obviously, the “one-off incident” of burning the door is already part of a chain of events that can be described as ethnic segregation of Russians. In Leipzig, for example, the heads of private companies were forced to sign a document from the city’s official structures in which they pledged not to employ Russian citizens with German residence permits.


A Leipzig businessman told the author this in a private conversation and accompanied his story with the words: “This is fascism”.


After the threatening inscriptions on the campus of the Lomonosov State School in Marzahn and the rapid spread of photos on the internet, the school again decided to pretend that nothing had happened and issued a statement that it was just another “isolated incident”, someone’s prank.

It is true that propaganda often uses the technique of passing off the individual as the general. But in this case, the school authorities are trying to suggest the reverse logical order by passing off the general as the individual.


And the attitude of the school authorities, who are trying to stay out of politics and the current political conflicts in German society, is understandable. 


Private schools in Germany have a status under public law and, like public schools, are funded from the state budget. It is clear that public funding does not cover all the school’s needs, but it is very substantial, and the fees parents pay for their children’s education create a fund that allows a private educational institution to be considered a very profitable enterprise. The federal and state budgets spend around ten billion euros a year on public schools.


A quarter of this amount is raised by the parents of the pupils. Thus, the sudden – earlier the school‘s direction stressed everywhere their connection to the Russian embassy – apolitical attitude of the director of the Lomonosov School has its justification in the fear for the further financing of the project by the federal and state governments. 


There remain unanswered questions for the Russian Embassy in Germany and for Rossotrudnichestvo, whose Russian House of Science and Culture actively rented its premises to Russian creative groups before the special operation began, while at the same time presenting positive reports of support for Russian culture in Germany and collecting money from enthusiastic Russian collectors and struggling to meet Rossotrudnichestvo’s rental burden. Today, these organisations have done hardly more than nothing in the already numerous cases of discrimination against Russians in Germany. There is no legal support for those who have been dismissed or harassed and humiliated because of their national origin. Russians in Germany have demonstrated their ability to organise themselves. However, it is to be feared that they will soon have to prove their ability to defend themselves as well. Likewise, the question remains for the head of MITRA whether the schools she runs will adopt the German standard of reporting on the military operation in Ukraine, in which Russia is portrayed exclusively as the aggressor and war criminal. Because, as we all know, money doesn’t smell.



Vasily Melnichenko


August 2022