A German video presenting an anti-Ukrainian campaign has been circulating on the Internet for several days. Refugees from Ukraine are compared to clasps tightened on women’s nipples. Their presence is supposedly destroying the German economy, so the only solution is to break the bonds and send the refugees back to their home country. During the video, numerous statistics are also cited to support the presented thesis. What they have in common is that their context has been manipulated to evoke a specific reaction in the audience.
The German video appeared, among others, on X (formerly Twitter). It has usually been shared without any comment, and the recipient must come up with the entire context themselves. The recording was also posted on Polish Telegram. Also in this case, it was shared with no further explanation. The recording has not yet gained wider popularity in our country. However, we decided to take a closer look at it because it can quickly flood the information space.
A German video? Who’s behind it?
The recording looks like it was professionally edited. It is not the work of amateurs, but of people who create advertising spots on a daily basis. A suggestive message easily reaches the recipient and evokes specific emotions.
A quick look at the video shows that there is a pink logo in the upper right corner. We identified it quite easily as belonging to the German feminist organization Deutscher Staatsbürgerinnen-Verband (English: German Association of Female Citizens). However, we did not find this material on the organization’s website or social media. We therefore decided to contact the organization directly and ask if they had anything to do with the video in question and whether they supported the message it contained.
We quickly received a response from Sandra Cegly, the president of the association. She denied that the Deutscher Staatsbürgerinnen-Verband had anything to do with the recording. The logo was used without the consent of the association. In an email response, she also stated that “the message [of the video] is shocking. We don’t support it.” Therefore, despite the use of the association’s logo, the recording has nothing to do with it and stands in direct opposition to its values. Unfortunately, we were unable to identify the original source of this video. However, there are some indications that it is part of the Kremlin’s propaganda game.
According to the fact-checking website DPA, the above video was distributed primarily through Russian social media accounts. It appeared, among others, on X. It can also be found on YouTube. The topic was also picked up by the Russian press. Although the pro-Russian website Donbass Today did not publish the clip itself, it referred to the alleged position of the German Association of Female Citizens, using exact quotes from the video in question.
As an additional clue, one of the actresses in the clip is wearing a black top with the words “Future Vison” written on it (visible in the screenshot above). As it turns out, this clothing comes from the collection of a clothing company seated in Saint Petersburg. This is another indication that the recording was created as part of a Russian disinformation operation.
German video – theses
The recording presents several theses supported by numbers. We decided to look at them one by one and briefly discuss them. As it turns out, most of them are manipulated, omitting important context, and wrongly link correlation with cause and effect. We are dealing with so-called cherry picking, i.e. selecting data to support a thesis.
Thesis no. 1
1,204,000 Germans left the Federal Republic, mainly going to Switzerland, Austria, and the USA — this is manipulation. In fact, more than 1,200,000 people left Germany in 2022, but most of them were not German citizens at all. This number is not very surprising either, as it has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Less than 270,000 German citizens left the country. Here, too, the situation has returned to the one before the pandemic. Indeed, the most popular countries for Germans to go to were Switzerland, Austria, and the USA. Therefore, it is not true that over a million Germans have left their country, because most of this number are citizens of other countries.
Thesis no. 2
Germany’s public debt has reached a record high of 2.37 trillion euros — this is true, but once again given without proper context. We witnessed a jump in Germany’s public debt in 2020. That’s when it started to grow very quickly, mainly due to the Covid crisis. The economic problems in Europe that began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine only added to the debt that was already growing rapidly. Therefore, it is not refugees from Ukraine that are responsible for it, but the unfavourable economic situation around the world since 2020.
Thesis no. 3
The domestic deficit in Germany has increased to 42.1 billion euros — these figures are correct and refer to the first half of 2023. The deficit is also higher compared to the same period last year. However, also in this case there are numerous different reasons behind this, and the answer to why the budget hole in Germany is growing is not simple. However, it is certainly not related to refugees from Ukraine and, above all, to the federal government’s aid packages and subsidies, which were increased as a result of inflation and high energy prices.
Thesis no. 4
Germany had to shut down 50,600 companies — here we are also dealing with real data from the first half of 2023. They concern the bankruptcy of companies of greater economic significance. There were 246,000 companies that declared bankruptcy. This is actually 14% more than the year before. However, at the same time, 62.7 thousand large companies, and a total number of 317,600 companies were established during that period. This is 10% more compared to 2022. This means that there were definitely more newly established enterprises than those that declared bankruptcy. Finally, it is also worth adding that in previous years, significant funds were allocated to aid companies, and many of them had their obligation to declare bankruptcy suspended. It ended at the beginning of this year, hence the jump in registered bankruptcies. Once again, Ukrainian refugees had no influence on this.
Theses no. 5, 6, and 7
Germany has significantly reduced budget spending in the areas of student benefits, pensions and digitalisation — yet again, this is true. In fact, funding for vocational education, the so-called BAföG, decreased by 440 million euros. Federal social security subsidies also decreased by 600 million euros. Finally, the digitalisation budget shrank by as much as 99% from 377 to 3.3 million euros. Also in this case, this is a manifestation of broader financial problems of the German government. There is no single factor responsible for that, and the situation is the result of many causes. Moreover, this only concerns federal expenditures, not the budgets of the states (German: Länder), where the situation varies depending on the specific region.
There are many indications that the recording in question was created as part of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign. A dramatic video and the use of carefully selected data are intended to evoke specific emotions in the recipient. This time it is supposed to be reluctance towards refugees from Ukraine, who are presented as those responsible for Germany’s economic problems. In fact, the country’s economic and budgetary situation is a complex topic, and there are a plethora of reasons for this. There is no single factor responsible for it, and the main causes are the Covid crisis and the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine, not the presence of refugees.
DPA Factchecking: https://dpa-factchecking.com/germany/230907-99-109576/
Deutscher Staatsbürgerinnen-Verband: https://staatsbuergerinnen.org/