• Germany's news in English
 

Putin feels 'nostalgia' for East Germany

Published: 08 Nov 2009 12:35 GMT+01:00

Putin said in the interview with the NTV channel that he had good memories of his 1985-1990 posting in the city that included learning German, excursions to the mountains and contacts with his East German counterparts.

"I still remember this warmth and cordiality," he said in the interview to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago, excerpts of which were published by all Russia's main news agencies.

"I am very thankful for this. In this respect there is some feeling of nostalgia," Putin told the broadcaster.

"But we see how the Federal Republic (post-reunification Germany) is developing and we are happy that we have good relations on a new basis," he said, adding, "This of course makes any nostalgia secondary."

Opening up for the first time about his hitherto mysterious past in the intelligence service, Putin described his time in East Germany as "not the worst years of my life and I would even say good ones."

"We made friends with our colleagues, got to know a world that was new for us and I became familiar with the language and had contacts with people. Our children went to the German nursery school. We talked to our neighbours.

"This door into a completely different world was very interesting. We had many contacts not only with our colleagues from the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) but from other areas," he said, fondly recalling excursions to the mountains at Christmas.

Putin said he gave great weight to the importance of relations between Russia and Germany.

Despite the burden of World War II, Moscow enjoys better ties with Berlin than most other European states and they enjoy a key trade relationship.

"Whatever happens in Germany domestically there is a definite national consensus on the development of the relationship with Russia," said Putin.

He described former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as "my friend". But Putin said he also had "remarkable, very good personal and business relations" with his successor Angela Merkel even though she is from another party.

"There is an understanding that we need each other. And that is the main thing."

As president, Putin in 2005 described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century, an opinion his successor Dmitry Medvedev declined to endorse in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine this weekend.

Your comments about this article

15:27 November 8, 2009 by Celeon
Dear, Vlad

Rest assured that while may have warm feelings about the good old days, we dont feel any nostalgia for your former employers nor the political system they helped to keep up and running.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was not the "greatest catastrophe of the 20th century" it was the "most deserved catastrophe of the 20th century"

Im still seeing that fact the Soviet Union even failed to reach its 70th birthday by just a few days as a well deserved irony of history.

I cannot think of anything more just and deserved than what happened to the Soviet Union in 1991.
15:55 November 8, 2009 by lordkorner
I have only one thing to say about MR Putin's comments, he would feel this way, after all...4 legs good,2 legs better.
17:09 November 8, 2009 by Guderian
Nostalgia??? He feels nostalgia??? For the GDR??????? Jesus Christ. How can a human being, which is blessed with more or less normal intelligence can feel nostalgia for the GDR?!?! I mean hey, the GDR!!! The GDR was the most ruined, the most ramshackle, the most failed and by a long way the most unnecessary country in the whole european history!
02:00 November 9, 2009 by slobo
Well said, Guderian, completely unecessary, and secondary, given only to Russia herself!
03:08 November 9, 2009 by Fredfeldman
Putin's comments about his nostalgia for the GDR would be hilarious if the gentlemen himself wasn't so deeply involved as a high ranking KGB operative of the catastrophic Soviet Union. Doesn't he realize how offensive and ludicrous he sounds? Maybe he does but thinks the spin is worth it.
07:34 November 9, 2009 by wood artist
Guderian

The GDR existed for many reasons. First, Stalin saw it as a step towards allowing Communism to take over the world (read "Stalin could take of the entire world"). It was "appropriate and necessary" to punish the Germans for causing all the problems in eastern Europe. It also prevented Germany from rebuilding for another go at the Russians in WWIII.

Most importantly, it was an important source of manufacturing that Russia was incapable of creating themselves. Remember, most of the East German economy was based upon making "stuff" for export to Russia (at very favorable prices) to support the Soviet Union, an economy that could not support itself.

In short, the GDR was simply a large slave-labor camp constructed to provide material wealth to Russia and serve as a buffer against those darn, freedom-loving Americans and Europeans. The wall was simply a slight addition to those conditions.

As an American who lived through those times...before, during, and after...and wish I could be there tonight to join in. The Mauerfall was a victory for mankind, not for capitalism or any other political system. One need only look at the pictures from that night to know the truth.
08:09 November 9, 2009 by CJSweatt
@Expaticus: I really hate that the BBC documentary is not available here in the U.S. Does anyone know where else this may be available for download? I would really love to watch the documentary.

I was six years old, living in Nürnberg when this happened. I didn't really understand everything that was going on at the time. I now live in Mobile, Alabama, and feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the world...
Today's headlines
Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon
Ethiopia's Legese (R) crosses the finish line just ahead of Kenya's Kogei. Photo: APF

Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon

Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese won the Berlin half marathon on Sunday as African runners dominated the top ten finishers in the men's race. READ  

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash
A section of the Nürburgring's north circuit

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash

A man has been killed and several others injured in an accident at Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germany to hold April service for crash victims
Photo: DPA

Germany to hold April service for crash victims

Germany will hold a national memorial ceremony and service on April 17 for victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, regional authorities said on Saturday. READ  

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation
Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation

Update: After German tabloid Bild reported that Germany's least-favourite Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis was considering resigning, the minister rejected the story on Twitter. READ  

Germany to expand disability rights
Photo: DPA

Germany to expand disability rights

A representative of the German Labour Ministry went before a UN Committee on Friday to discuss the government's plan for improved rights for disabled people. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral
Photo: DPA

Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral

A Facebook post describing how a Germanwings pilot personally reassured his passengers of their safety on a flight on Wednesday has received over quarter of a million likes. READ  

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads
Photo: DPA

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads

The Bundestag (German parliament) passed a hugely controversial law on Friday which will charge foreigners for the use of German roads. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule
Photo: DPA

Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule

The Federation of the German Air Travel Industry (BDL) confirmed on Friday afternoon that from now on two people must be in the cockpit at all times, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Germanwings disaster. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,127
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd