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Andreas Kluth

Germans Are Waging a War of Open Letters Over Ukraine and Russia

The country’s intellectuals have stumbled into an edifying debate about Russia’s war and the appropriate response. 

Getting a lot of mail.

Getting a lot of mail.

Photographer: Andreas Gora/Getty Images

Debates among German intellectuals are usually so vapid, pretentious and painful to behold that I hesitate to wish the experience even on my worst enemies. But I’m making an exception for a phenomenon I’ll call the War of Open Letters. 

This ongoing philosophical conflict is about the brutal attack by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, and the appropriate reaction to it by Germany and, implicitly, the Western alliance. To my surprise, the controversy has the potential to become enlightening.