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Putin feels 'nostalgia' for East Germany

AFP · 8 Nov 2009, 12:35

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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...
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