The Peaceful Memel: Meandering through the old and new world order
“The Curonian Spit is as remarkable as Spain or Italy, which one must have seen if one’s soul is not to be deprived of a wonderful image.” 
- Alexander von Humboldt
As geographer and geopolitician, Jacques Ancel once noted that there are no natural boundaries, such as mountains or rivers, that “can enclose states and nations ad aeterum.” For Ancel, borders are a “political isobar that determines the balance between mass and forces for a certain period of time.” It is primarily the spiritual factors that make up a border – human factors. “A nation firmly established, a circumscribed nation, then, is one whose function is clear, and which results from harmony between the forms of life of which it is composed.” Further: “When the harmony is found, the national consciousness settles, and even without borders nations can exist.”
“Is your family German or Prussian?” our host, R., asked me abruptly in Lumpėnai, once Lompönen in the old Memel Territory, or Memelland as it is known in German. I was surprised. I had never been asked this question before.
I smiled. “Prussian. I am 100 percent Prussian.” R. smiled back. I continued: “On my father’s side from West Prussia, and on my mother’s side, my ancestors come from East Prussia. And my grandmother was born in Tilsit.” “Ah, very nice,” replied R.
Tilsit, today Sowetsk, is just 18 km from Lumpėnai. From the top of the sacred mountain Rambynas, or Rombinus in German, you can clearly see the silhouette of the city, and the Memel River as it majestically meanders through the Memelland.
What a magnificent view. I am overwhelmed. Here I am, in the middle of the Memelland. On top of the mountain considered holy by the Skalvians, I feel I am once again having one of those key experiences, the experiences I often have when I am in the homeland of my ancestors: This sudden feeling of having an overarching view, of escaping life’s daily entanglements – and unconsciously I feel that I can’t escape from them any more than I can here. Because once this overarching view has been seen and felt, there is no turning back.
I look at the peaceful Memel, a family bathes on the other bank, once the region around Königsberg, today Kaliningrad oblast. We wave to each other. Two anglers are fishing wordlessly and a little grumpily on the Lithuanian side. Nothing indicates that the former Königsberg region is heavily armed – against “the enemy,” against us.
Reality feels much more peaceful than the press propagates daily.
View from the sacred mountain Rambynas in the direction of Tilsit.
Are appearances deceptive?
The hegemony of the United States seems to be dissolving in favor of the new spheres of power and influence of Eurasia, with the help of the alliance of BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), among others. Additional states – Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates – have joined this alliance.
The West, which includes the EU and the leading media, agrees these countries all increasingly see this as a competitive alliance with the existing and undisputed “Western community of values.” A currency created by the BRICS states and the strengthening of the Chinese renminbi are intended as steps towards replacing the US dollar as the world’s leading currency. One increasingly reads about a de-dollarization of the world economy.
But is this true?
Until now, the picture has been different: the dollar makes up about 60% of global foreign exchange trade; it continues to dominate when it comes to global foreign currency liabilities (about 62%). Neither the Chinese currency nor the euro has been able to reduce the dollar’s attractiveness.
The dollar is quite stable and has been involved in about 88% of international currency transactions for decades, compared to only 30% for the euro and 4% for the renminbi. 
The renminbi’s gains from 0.1% to 7% correspond to the euro’s losses in the same period. Looking at the International Monetary Fund’s currency basket, the dollar has recorded slight gains since the inclusion of the renminbi, whereas the euro’s share has fallen from 37.4% (before the inclusion of the renminbi) to 29.3% (August 2022).
If and when it appears, a BRICS currency will also not be able to change this fact, especially since “countries such as Russia and China have already agreed in bilateral agreements to conduct trade in the respective national currencies.”
Central Banking Digital Currency (CBDC)
The imminent introduction of the CBDC seems to be of greater importance. When one considers this issue, the much-hyped danger that supposedly emanates from the BRICS alliance of states loses some of its drama.
A quick look at the composition of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is enough to reveal that there is no competition between the “Western community of values” and the BRICS countries. All central banks of the BRICS members are also members of the BIS. The BIS is the supreme authority, the central bank of all central banks worldwide. Except for Ethiopia and Egypt, the central banks of the new BRICS member countries are also members of BIS.
In the EU, the timetable is being massively accelerated and there is talk of introducing the digital euro in two to three years.
It seems that all countries worldwide gradually want to introduce the CBDC. Thus, the respective countries, in coordination with the BIS, can control the money supply. The Modern Monetary Theory is taking shape. In the future, through their respective central banks, states would have a monopoly on the amount of money in circulation. It would no longer be necessary to finance government investment via taxes and loans.
Today’s global financial system seems to be at its end. States are hopelessly over-indebted. The machines for printing money continue to run. The global money supply does not correspond to the value of the goods and services in circulation. National currencies are increasingly losing value as unconditional money creation is the order of the day.
What the introduction of the CBDC could mean for people in terms of its dangers and risks cannot be precisely predicted. But if there really is only one digital central bank currency soon in the respective countries and cash is de facto abolished, the possibility certainly exists that money’s validity could be limited in terms of time, or its use could be limited to a specific purpose. For example, a certain amount could have to be spent on CO2-neutral activities. This would not only represent the total surveillance of financial flows; even worse, people’s freedom would be restricted to a significant extent.
The illusion of decoupling
In addition to BRICS, the People’s Republic of China in particular, along with Russia, is a constant topic in the press. China’s economic development after its post-lockdown opening does not seem to meet the expectations of the Western economy. Looking at the current trade data between Germany and China, we can see that exports from Germany to China have not increased as expected. From 2018 to 2022, exports to China decreased by 7.5%, and this trend has continued in 2023. The reasons for this include the fact that China is now producing more goods in its own country due to technological progress rather than importing them from abroad, as was previously the case. There has also been a “sharp rise in the profits of German companies in China and an increase in the reinvested profits of German companies in China. Consequently, for the German economy, the impetus for growth is no longer secured by exports to China.”
Independently of this economic development, the German government has formulated its first China strategy, which should rather be seen as an ideological assessment tool to classify China as a “systemic rival” – but also as a “partner,” because breaking away from China would further weaken Germany as a business location.
Which is it, partner or rival, some will ask? This clearly shows the lack of leadership on the part of Germany’s current government. Time will tell whether this is the right path for Germany as an industrial player. But it shows one thing quite clearly: Here, too, efforts are underway to make people believe that the new world order will be bipolar, or that we already live in a bipolar world, and are thus participating in a new Cold War.
To ensure this belief, humanity must be further divided, according to the motto divide et impera, into a good and an evil side, into a world in which everything and everyone who does not submit to the values and morals of the “Western community” is portrayed as an enemy or is at least observed suspiciously. But what does the reality look like? Why has there been a massive split over the last four years? What is behind it?
Is it not the case that decoupling or secession is simply not possible in our globalized world and that we basically continue to live in a unipolar world, more than ever?
Coups in Mali and Niger; withdrawal of the former colonial power France; withdrawal also of the Bundeswehr. Here, too, it seems that there is a split, a struggle between the African powers and the Western powers in favor of the mercenaries of the Russian paramilitary units such as the Wagner Group.
But might it not be possible that the state armies are no longer needed at all, since the global industrial power elites are well established in these countries, and a “private army” may well serve their purpose?
Billions in subsidies for chip production facilities in Magdeburg and elsewhere are intended to make Germany and Europe independent of supplies from Asia. But is it really so, if the preliminary products must still be obtained from Asia? Aren’t they just subsidies worth millions for creating jobs at major corporations worth billions such as Intel, and German SMEs, once the pillar of the German economy, are left empty-handed and increasingly posting a high number of insolvencies?
There is no bipolar world, but we continue to live in a world order in which the US influences world affairs more than ever. Let us not believe in the fairy tale of a bipolar world, nor a multipolar world, the term “multipolar” also implies opposites. Whereas the term “multi-regional world order” stands for complementarity. And it is precisely this regional complementarity that must be supported. To achieve this, however, humanity must not be divided into enemy camps.
Where are the real centers of power?
The future challenge facing this multi-regional world will be to respect all nations and their populations, including each one’s unique cultural nature and individual value. No matter what the political system – dictatorship, autocracy, or democracy – it should be treated with respect. No state should interfere in the internal affairs of any other state.
But the “Western community of values,” using the tool of the ideology of the good, of morality, of absolute truth, positions itself with “raised forefinger” in an unprecedented way over other peoples, countries and views and brings dissenters – no longer by torture and prison, but by merciless smear campaigns – to silence.
Never has so much power, influence and money from the business community, especially the digital community, as well as from politics and the press, been concentrated in the hands of so few individuals – such as Bill Gates, Larry Fink (BlackRock), Jeff Bezos, Albert Bourla, Klaus Schwab and the WEF with its “ Young Global Leaders,” some of whose graduates sit in important centers of government control, but also in business, the press, cultural institutions, sports organizations and the entertainment industry.
Elites around the world form closed circles of power that seek to control and direct the spheres of people’s lives and ways of thinking – right down to the language used. Real power no longer lies with governments or in parliaments. The real global power centers seem to be somewhere else entirely.
How else could there have been worldwide conformity in the application of Covid responses, in the assessment of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and in the introduction of gender-neutral language? There has never been global synchronization to this extent.
What’s important now is: Let’s not be fooled, let’s not be distracted and let’s fundamentally question what is offered to us as truth day in and day out. One support here is a knowledge of history.
“When the Germans stick together, they can drive the devil out of hell,” Bismarck is quoted as saying.
The world, especially today, is not a fairy tale world. In fact, it never has been. Our world will always be marked by conflicts and wars. Authoritarian regimes will always exist, there will be forced labor and injustice, poverty and misery.
It is important not to allow ourselves to be divided any further and to put a stop internally to the flood of information from outside. Like the Memel River meandering between two supposedly hostile camps, the new multi-regional world order will meander through our lives like a fluid transition.
Life is change. Thus, in my life, the familiar Seine in Paris has become the now very familiar Memel. Childhood’s shyness becomes self-confidence, self-determination, steadfastness, trust and confidence.
Let us trust in the non-rational, in the humane visions of Jacques Ancel, who puts people at the center of life as creators, people who come together naturally and voluntarily through a common history, culture and language, and a respect of borders.
In particular, the Germans, and Germany, with its predestined geographical location in the heart of Europe, should remember and reflect on their historical responsibility, should open up to all sides and serve as a bridge for international understanding.
Power of the center and intersections
“Is your family German or Prussian?” I must often think back to this question with a smile.
And yes, much is written, and rightly so, about the horrific flight and expulsion of people from Germany’s historic east. And yes, we all have not only the right, but also the human obligation to be shocked – by suffering, by the misery that was visited upon the Germans after the Second World War. By the loss of the homeland of millions of Germans, by a shattered country.
And yes, I too have the right to be shocked by the fate of my ancestors from East and West Prussia, by the loss of my families’ homeland. And precisely because of my Prussian family history, it is my responsibility to act, to have a positive influence on Germany’s further development.
We Prussian descendants can and should help ensure that the culture of remembrance always remains present. Even more, we can help restore the balance in Germany. That from the former occupied territories of West Germany and East Germany, a true German nation emerges again, firmly anchored in its roots, open to all sides, neutral and unifying.
Let us remember: “Living together in the state of Prussia and the rule of the Hohenzollern dynasty, Poles, Lithuanians and Germans are closely connected.”
All peoples and nations always have commonalities; we are all connected. And that is precisely our strength. As a Prussian descendant, I consciously live what connects me to my ancestors, who become tangibly present to me when I step onto the soil of their homeland in East and West Prussia and speak with the people there. A feeling of coming home, a primal force receives and accompanies me.
As a border, the Memel River is peaceful. People bathe and fish, even horses on the territory of Königsberg graze leisurely, in the former Ruß, today Rusne, which lies on the Memel delta – only 12 kilometers away from the Curonian Lagoon.
In 1983, very much concerned about the fatherland and the German nation, my grandfather, Paul Kuhrau, ended his memoirs on May 31 with the following words to his descendants:
“Familiarize yourselves with German history with all its ups and downs. Also inform yourselves about history of the other countries, that of the Soviet countries of the USSR, the French, the British … also the history of the Americans.
“I therefore call upon you: Be Germans with the same devotion as Frenchmen are Frenchmen, as Englishmen are Englishmen, as Poles are Poles. Love your fatherland, hold fast to the concept of the German nation … do not forget the homeland of your ancestors, East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia; areas from which millions of Germans have been driven from house and home, with hundreds of thousands of compatriots perishing.
“Commit yourselves, dear descendants, to the words that Albert Matthäie left us as a legacy.
„Du sollst an Deutschlands Zukunft glauben,
an deines Volkes Aufersteh’n;
Laß diesen Glauben dir nicht rauben,
trotz allem, allem was gescheh’n.
Und handeln sollst du so, als hinge
von dir und deinem Tun allein
das Schicksal ab, der deutschen Dinge
und die Verantwortung wär‘ dein.“
You shall believe in Germany’s future,
in your people’s resurrection;
Do not let this faith be robbed from you,
despite everything, everything that happens.
And you shall act as if on you
and your actions alone depended the
fate of German things,
and the responsibility was yours.
Hope and strength
The signs of the times point to hope, confidence and strength. This must be especially true for us, the descendants of the expellees from the historical East, and achieving it should be our task.
Centralism and coercive societies, personality cults, all these will pass sooner or later. They will fail because of reality, because they are against human nature. Man is born free to shape his life in a self-determined way.
Let us remain steadfast with ourselves, let us welcome the change that is emerging with the global shifts. Let us not be divided and never be driven into fear. Let us network, let us take responsibility for ourselves, in the spirit of our ancestors. Let us gather our own facts, let us form our own opinions, in the spirit of Kant: sapere aude!
The future lies in international understanding and living within our commonalities. We are all connected to each other and together must shape our common history.
Identity of the Heart – Back to the Origin
First published in the Modern Diplomacy.
References and Reading Tipps
Ancel, Jacques (1938): Géographie des frontières, Gallimard.
Banik, Katja (2023): The sun rises in the East: A plea for identity, nations and international understanding, www.moderndiplomacy.eu
Banik, Katja (2023): The starry heavens above me…”* A plea for awareness and peace, www.moderndiplomacy.eu
Banik, Katja (2022): Im Rausch des Bernsteins – der historische Osten Deutschlands, www.katjabanik.com
Banik, Katja (2021): A clear view eastwards: Russia and Germany, www.katjabanik.com
Banik, Katja (2021): Without roots, no future. Decoupling ideologies, www.katjabanik.com
Banik, Katja/Lüdert, Jan (2020): Assessing Securization: China’s Belt and Road Initiative, E-International Relations, e-ir.info
Bode, Sabine (2009): Kriegsenkel. Die Erben der vergessenen Generation, Klett-Cotta.
Bobrowski, Johannes (2002): Litauische Claviere, Reclam Leipzig.
Deutschlandfunk (2023): Intel-Chipfabrik in Magdeburg – Zukunftsinvestitionen gegen Staatsknete.
Dohnanyi, Klaus (2022): Nationale Interessen, Siedler Verlag, München.
Donelaitis, Kristijonas (1765-1775): Die Jahreszeiten; aus dem Litauischen von Gottfried Schneider, C.H. Beck, 2021.
Fuchsbriefe (2023): Der Dollar ist als Leitwährung unangefochten.
Graichen, Hesse (2012): Die Bernsteinstraße. Verborgene Handelswege zwischen Ostsee und Nil, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg.
Ifw, Kiel Institut für Weltwirtschaft (2023): Deutsche Exporte ausgebremst: China ersetzt “Made in Germany”:
Influencewatch.org (2023) Young Global Leaders
Jähner, Harald (2022): Höhenrausch. Das kurze Leben zwischen den Kriegen. Rowohlt-Berlin.
Kossert, Andreas (2009): Kalte Heimat: Die Geschichte der deutschen Vertriebenen nach 1945, Pantheon Verlag.
KAS kurzum (2023) Nr. 140/Mai 2023.
Lasch, Otto (1959): So fiel Königsberg, Gräfe und Unzer Verlag.
Ledgers Insights (2023): The MBridge multi-CBDC for cross border payments is on a path to production
Pölking, Hermann (2022): Das Memelland. Wo Deutschland einst zu Ende war, bre.bra. verlag, Berlin
Teltschik, Horst (2019): Russisches Roulette: Vom kalten Krieg zum kalten Frieden, C. H. Beck.
Wagener, Martin (2021): Der Kulturkampf um das deutsche Volk. Der Verfassungsschutz
 “Die Kurische Nehrung ist so merkwürdig, dass man sie eigentlich ebenso gut als Spanien und Italien gesehen haben muss, wenn einem nicht ein wunderbares Bild in der Seele fehlen sollte.”
 Ancel (1938)
 “Wenn die Deutschen zusammenhalten, schlagen sie den Teufel aus der Hölle.”
 Ancel, Jacques (1938) : Géographie des frontières.
 Pölking (2022).
 Pölking (2022).