Markus Lanz has returned from a research trip through Ukraine. The ZDF talker experienced detonations and gained impressions “like in an apocalyptic film”. He tried to make podcast partner Richard David Precht understand why people there don’t dream of a ceasefire.
Viewers of the ZDF talk “Markus Lanz” were able to see for themselves this week: Markus Lanz has returned safely from Ukraine. In the days before, the presenter had traveled through the war-torn country for a TV report. He had already spoken about his impressions a week ago from a hotel in Kiev with podcast partner Richard David Precht.
In the new “Lanz und Precht” issue, the 54-year-old revealed how dangerous the trip was for him and his camera team. They wanted to visit the embattled port city of Kherson at a time when it was “heavily under fire”. He experienced detonations up close.
If you stay in the same place for too long in a large group, there is a great risk of being spotted by a drone and taken under fire, explained Lanz. Fortunately, the film team on site had been warned accordingly. Lanz remembers: “As we were driving out of the city, it suddenly hit the left, a column of smoke rose up, suddenly it hit the right too, black smoke rose up.” Then he realized: “Oh, right, left impact, right Impact and we are right in between…”
Markus Lanz: “There is no safe place in Ukraine”
At that moment he also realized what a young man in western Ukraine wanted to convey to him at the beginning of his journey: “There is no safe place in Ukraine. Don’t feel really safe anywhere!” This is exactly the feeling that Russia wants to achieve with its bomb and rocket terror against the civilian population.
As the conversation continued, Lanz informed the philosopher Richard David Precht that he had complied with his request from the previous podcast episode. “You told me: Ask a farmer in southeast Ukraine what he thinks about this war!” Precht, who had repeatedly questioned arms deliveries and a “military solution” to the war in the German debate, confirmed: “I just thought that you talk to the people on whose grounds the war is being fought.”
However, what Lanz had to report did not confirm the obvious assumption that those directly affected were longing for a ceasefire as quickly as possible. In a village between Kherson and Mykolaiv, Lanz met a farmer named Vitali, in the middle of a landscape that seemed almost idyllic from a distance, but on closer inspection everything was completely destroyed “like in an apocalyptic film.”
“They know how brutally the Russians torture, in every cellar.”
“A friend named Richard asked me to ask you how you see this war,” he said to Vitali, Lanz reported. His answer: “How should I see this war? People come and just shoot up my house.” His house and his agricultural machinery were destroyed, his cows were all dead. An attempt to escape with his wife and children failed because of the fire from the occupiers. He could no longer cultivate the fields because there were mines everywhere.
Lanz: “He exchanged his life as a wealthy farmer for that of a destitute recipient of alms.” And yet he is trying to rebuild his business without knowing whether it will not be destroyed again with a single tank shot.
When Precht reacted to the description with astonishment and even incomprehension, Lanz insisted: “That’s exactly the point.” He asked the farmer: “Aren’t you tired of this, shouldn’t you make an offer to the Russians?” Take Crimea and a few parts of Donbass!” But the answer was: “No. If we do that, they’ll come back.’”
Lanz emphasized that he spoke to “many, many people” during his trip, and it was precisely this attitude that was “always crystal clear” with everyone. “They all have the reports in the back of their minds and some of them know it from their own experience. They know how brutally the Russians torture, in every cellar. They know what violence they are prepared to do and they don’t want to live like that.”
Richard David Precht formulates a “big thought task” for peace
According to Precht, “the big intellectual task” now is to organize a “provisional peace” that does not remain “a provisional solution”. Every effort must be made to think about what something like this could look like, “if the idea that Ukraine will get all of its territories back is unrealistic.”
Lanz only answered the objection indirectly with impressions from the occupied territories: “Everything that is in any way Ukrainian is being erased, half the population is being systematically exchanged, children are being kidnapped to Russia.” Interestingly, he even met Russians there, who did not want to be “liberated” by Russians. “They say: We don’t want to have anything to do with this Russia.”
Markus Lanz’s conclusion after his experiences in the war zone: “For me, the most incomprehensible thing is how much people are able to straighten themselves out, to fight, to carry on for their convictions, and to believe so firmly that things will get better at some point . That’s what keeps them alive.”