Tag Archives: East Germany

East Germany uses amateur athletes as medicinal guinea pigs, according to a new German documentary | Instant News

The former East Germany used amateur sportsmen and women as clueless guinea pigs to test experimental drugs aimed at enhancing performance, according to a German documentary that premiered Friday.

While a widespread elite sports doping program was exposed after the fall of the East German communist regime in 1990, including numerous trials and convictions, the documentary reveals a lesser-known aspect of the program; use of recreational athletes as guinea pigs for these experimental drugs.

A massive state-sponsored doping program had been run in the former East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s under the direction of the secret police, known as Stasi.

Researchers quoted on the channel documentary ARD say that such experiments were possible on hundreds of people over 20 years.

Hans-Albrecht Kuehne, a runner at the time, recounted how he had taken part in a secret program run by the Institute for Culture and Body Sports in Leipzig, which he was told he could not talk about afterwards.

Between 1974 and 1977, back during the Cold War that pitted the Soviet Union and its satellites against the West, Kuehne was regularly subjected to injections of drugs she didn’t know about, and underwent multiple biopsies that were often painful.

ARD also found film footage taken in former East Germany in 1976 documenting such a biopsy.

Kuehne and others were exposed to strong doses of anabolic steroids, including Turabinol, which are designed to improve athletic performance but also have serious side effects, including kidney pain that swells the testicles and blood loss.

Kuehne is still receiving treatment, more than 40 years on, for a damaged lymphatic system. He also talked about depression and suicidal thoughts.

Manfred Hoeppner, the architect of the East German sports doping system, acknowledged after Germany’s reunification that the East German regime was aware of the risks of doping to elite athletes and wanted to first test its effects on the inferior humans.

Hoeppner, unlike some of his colleagues, expressed regret over his doping strategy but was convicted in 2000 and given a suspended sentence.

East Germany, under the Communist regime supported by Moscow from 1949 to 1990, became a global sports powerhouse, particularly nearing the top of the medal table in successive Olympics.


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Who is Matthias Warnig, Putin’s friend from former East Germany? | Europe | Latest news and events from all continents | DW | Instant News

Matthias Warnig is, in many ways, an extraordinary person. The 65-year-old is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oldest German friend and the most activeGerman in the Russian business environment. He is a former Stasi agent who became a banker in the 1990s. Since then, he has sat on the supervisory boards of many German-Russian banks and companies.

He is currently the CEO of Nord Stream 2, and happens to be in the rolein a recent YouTube video by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), in which Russian opposition activists exposed a wide network of corruption surrounding the construction of a palace estate for the Russian president on the Black Sea coast.

In the video, Navalnymentions Warnig when talking about the exchange of letters between Putin’s ex-wife Lyudmila and a German friend of hers in the mid-1990s. One of the letters was sent from the Warnig fax machine. The Russian opposition leader, citing a DW article, said that Warnig provided financial assistance to Putin, a former KGB officer in Dresden, and his family. It is thought the two had met through their respective secret services in former East Germany, but the official route is that they made contact only later, at St. Petersburg. Petersburg, after they both changed professions.

Meeting Putin ‘no problem’

Warnig likes to avoid publicity. He prefers to operate in the background. Austrian newspaper Pers published an interview with him in 2018, in which he was asked how often he met Putin. Warnig replied that the Russian president does not have a cell phone, before adding: “But if I want something and need to see it, we arrange it.”

In Putin’s 20 years ruling Russia, Warnig has become the most influential German business manager in the Russian economy.

In Pers, Warnig said he has accepted this position for two reasons, which are both coincidence and interdependent. “I received most of the seats on the supervisory board in 2012,” he said. “Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2012, and my contract is running out. So I am open to accepting new assignments. At the same time there was conflict between the then president, Dmitri Medvedev, and the government. Medvedev’s decision that all ministers and senior civil servants have to give up his position on the supervisory board. And then they need people to fill these posts. “

He dismissed speculation that, as Putin’s confidant, he had control over the running of business. “No, absolutely not. I’m not a spokesman for the Kremlin. And I didn’t report to the Kremlin, or chat casually about what happened there.”

Matthias Warnig and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder await Vladimir Putin at the North Stream reception on the occasion of Schröder’s 70th birthday in 2014

From Rosneft to Schalke 04

Matthias Warnig’s list of employers includes some of the largest companies in Russia. He has sat on the supervisory board of the state oil companies Transneft and Rosneft since 2011. On the Rosneft board he works with Gerhard Schröder: The former German chancellor, also a friend of Putin, has been its chairman since 2017. Schröder, however, is not mentioned in the film Navalny.

Warnig is also on the supervisory board of Russia’s VTB bank. And until 2015 he held the same position as the St. bank. Petersburg Rossiya [“Russia”] – which, according to Navalny’s video exposure and various media reports, are linked to President Putin’s inner circle.

From 2012 to 2018, Warnig chaired aluminum producer RUSAL’s supervisory board, but he had to relinquish this position after US sanctions were imposed on the company. However, the German executive quickly found another one – in his homeland. In 2019 he secured a seat on the supervisory board of German football club FC Schalke 04, whose main sponsor is the Russian energy company Gazprom. Several fans protested against his appointment.

Nord Stream 2

Germany is determined to continue with Nord Stream 2, despite objections from the EU and US

Main project: Nord Stream 2

Warnig’s most important current project is the construction of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that runs along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Warnig is the managing director of the Swiss-based company Nord Stream 2, of which one of the most important owners is Gazprom. Previously, for ten years, he ran his predecessor, Nord Stream, which laid the first twin pipes across the Baltic Sea. Both projects should benefit the eastern German state, which means for Warnig they are close to home: He comes from the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin.

It is an irony of fate that Warnig’s most important project is threatened with extinction when the Russian opposition politiciansAlexei Navalny was taken to Germany for treatment. In August 2020, Navalny survived a near deadly poisoning on Russian soil with the nerve agent Novichok. Call for the Nord Stream 2 project, already under US sanctions, frozen or stopped altogethergetting louder. Given the fact that Germany and Russia plan to continue the controversial project despite this resistance, Warnig can be said to have successfully fulfilled his role as lobbyist for Russia in Germany.

Adapted from Russian into German by Markian Ostaptschuk


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East Germany Day cuts development aid to Mozambique | Africa | DW | Instant News

At the time of the invasion, the East German government was implementing one of the largest African agricultural projects in Mozambique. East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republique (GDR), has planned 120,000 hectares of projects in various locations across the country. But the attack stopped everything. A total of eight GDR residents, a Yugoslav development worker, and five Mozambican citizens were killed in the attack. To this day, it is unclear who carried out the armed attacks.

The GDR has sent Manfred Grunewald, an agricultural expert, to the Unango project. Fortunately, he was in the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, at the time of the attack and was about to return to the airport when he heard the news.

The monument to commemorate the victims of the Unango attack is still there today

DW: What really happened on that December morning when the GDR experts accompanied by the Mozambican army left Lichinga, where they live, to Unango, the project site?

Manfred Grunewald: People can say a lot. But in the first three months, we were guarded during the trip to the agricultural production site because, unlike in the past, RENAMO [National Resistance of Mozambique] a rebel movement suddenly appeared in the north. RENAMO does not attack strategically important military targets; instead, they are brutally attack the populationand often forced entire villages to flee.

Did only the GDR experts die?

No, the attackers killed seven Germans on the spot; the other two were seriously injured. A Yugoslav employee and five Mozambican citizens, including two guards, were also killed. It wasn’t that the guards disappeared and didn’t fire at all. They were also killed for fighting back.

Did the two injured people survive?

The seriously injured were brought to Maputo by small plane and operated on there. He died from his wounds ten days later. Someone suspects a dum-dum bullet [a deformation bullet; that expands and tears down body organs and tissue upon entry into body tissue]. That means the attacker used projectiles. They had been banned from war for a long time even then. Another injured person was shot in the leg. He came home with us and survived.

That’s interesting because other deaths are rarely even mentioned in reports here in Germany. What happened in the following days?

We fear that there will be more deaths, but we have yet to find out who else was included in the report. This sudden terrorist attack, which resulted in the deaths of so many people, also meant that the project had to be stopped overnight throughout Mozambique, and the GDR withdrew its entire staff. However, there were snipers at work who didn’t even allow machines and various other work bases to be removed. And the people of Mozambique have not been able to do any further work.

Are there times after your return that you and a bereaved relative have offered to help with the trauma?

As far as I know, the wife of the person who died was sick. Funeral expenses are covered, as are funeral advertisements in the local newspapers. There is also an orphan allowance for children and a widow’s allowance. So far this has been provided within the legal framework of the GDR, but there has been no specific support either before or after the fall of the Wall. There are no offers to deal with trauma.

Manfred Grunewald, former German construction worker

Manfred Grunewald is a GDR agricultural expert at Unango

On the contrary, it wasn’t even being investigated. So, never did the states, neither the GDR nor the Federal Republic, at the state level, public prosecutors, etc … do whatever it takes to investigate this terrorist attack. What disappointed me the most was that society accepted little or nothing of what was happening there.

Do you still want the attack on Unango to be resolved?

First of all, I want the Germans to not only proceed legally formally but also think about how one could use PR to reward the achievements of the experts at that time. Second, there is still something that can be done to clear up this dilemma. Who is behind it, that our group was attacked in such a way and paid for their efforts to cause good cause with their lives? Incidentally, none of our group hates or dislikes the Mozambican people.

On the contrary, we know some elements want to interfere with development. And if there is always only war and terror, then humanity cannot develop normally. It’s possible. At Niassa, either under socialism or capitalism, one can produce sufficient food products, also for the market. We have set up two shops selling vegetables and charcoal. Something was really happening there, and it shouldn’t be destroyed. That’s what I blame this devastating Mozambican element.

Ten years ago, there was a film on [German public broadcaster] MDR, and we got involved. A RENAMO representative from Lichinga denied responsibility and said, “a lot is happening in the context of war. But we are not carrying out this attack.” Mozambique was unable to withdraw to that position and said that we have granted amnesty. We’re not investigating anything anymore. We reserve the right to have our rights in Mozambique further examined. Even though these people died long ago, their children are now adults. The dead now have grandchildren. They want to know what happened at that time.

Interview conducted by Johannes Beck

Manfred Grunewald is an agricultural expert from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).


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How East Germany confiscated valuables from its citizens | Culture | Art, music and lifestyle report from Germany | DW | Instant News

“It is suspected that valuables which are public property have not been registered by the state and are in the safe, safe and other facilities of a savings bank,” classified documents from December 20, 1961 told the head of the East German district administration. . “The aim of this campaign is to identify and secure previously improperly recorded valuables belonging to the public from falling into the hands of speculators,” the official newspaper continued.

The document is related to a secret state operation named “Action Light” (Light Mission), which was carried out in just a few days by East Germany (GDR) State Security Service (State Security Service), commonly known as Stasi.

It aims to fill the GDR’s tight coffers with foreign currency by securing state ownership of valuables such as paintings, silver, stamps, porcelain and stocks.

Read more: Why the origin of art is so important

Secret operation

Only a small number of people within the Stasi had been informed of the secret campaign. The 12 page document carefully lists the operation steps, hour by hour. It would start on January 6, 1962 at 3 p.m. and reports would be made two days later, at noon.

Stasi Headquarters in former East Berlin: Very few agents have been told about ‘Aktion Licht’

“The strict secrecy of the operation may have had various reasons,” said Henry Leide, a historian and employee at the former GDR (BStU) Federal Commissioner for State Security Service Records (BStU). If that information was leaked, the historian explained, it would lead to distrust between the population and the international community, possibly leading to the collapse of the East German banking and financial system.

The Stasi are “very much aware of the injustice they are deliberately committing through this operation,” added Leide.

Another aim of the operation is to trace files from before 1945 that could contribute to GDR state propaganda against the allegedly still fascist Federal Republic (West Germany), said Henry Leide.

It also allowed the state to determine which bank employees were suitable to work as Stasi collaborators, compared to those who questioned their orders.

Cultural assets are confiscated in various ways

During the operation, various lockers and safes, as well as former factory buildings, private homes, museums and churches were searched, and valuables were confiscated.

In addition to the items taken over through “Aktion Licht,” the Stasi also targeted the property of people who had fled the GDR and had to abandon their belongings.

Another practice of illegally confiscating cultural assets is through the imposition of very high taxes on the owners of the artwork, which they are unlikely to pay.

A new field of origin research

This makes it very difficult to trace the current structure of ownership and origin of goods. Research on the origins of confiscated valuables in the GDR is still in its early stages.

Portrait of historian Michael Busch, smiling on the harbor.

Historian Michael Busch is a researcher at the Schwerin State Museum

Professor Michael Busch was the first to investigate this topic from a historical perspective, by tracing an inventory list from Schwerin State Museumcollection. “There have been many cases of people leaving the GDR in the 1940s or 50s and keeping the paintings in the attic. And when the house was later sold and renovated, the works were found and given to the museum,” said Busch, adding, “But the museum. open to return the items. “

Busch estimates that about 1.5% -2% of the items that entered the museum’s collection from 1945 to 1990 have an unclear origin. It remains to be determined whether the work was obtained through the “Aktion Licht” operation or other questionable methods.

“Research on origins begins with art plundered by the Nazis and is followed by research on colonial art. This is the first project dedicated to art stolen by the GDR. This is new territory for the original researcher,” said Busch.

There was the Washington Conference Principle on Nazi Confiscated Art, which obliged states to find works of art that were obtained illegally during the Nazi era, to determine their rightful owner, and to find a fair solution immediately. But nothing compares to the period after 1945.

Former owners of lost assets in East Germany were given the option of filing a claim, but in most cases, the deadline for filing for restitution has expired. Here too, “we are entering into a new jurisdiction,” said Michael Busch.

As only fragments of documentation surrounding the “Aktion Licht” campaign have emerged, there is still much research to be done, and the search for the rightful owners of works seized by the GDR is just beginning.

This article was translated from German by Elizabeth Grenier.


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Wladimir Kaminer on Berlin’s anarchist years | Meet Germany | DW | Instant News

I am fine. Having lived and worked in Berlin for 30 years, I define myself professionally as a German writer, but personally I am still Russian. That means I don’t make prior appointments when I want to visit my mother, I don’t walk around the apartment in my street shoes and I don’t look in the trash to see if my neighbors are separating their trash properly.

At home we only speak Russian. We sometimes even watch Russian news, although we know that it should be enjoyed with care. After all, my house always has very different news from anywhere else in the world. Even so, I feel like a German, I live in both cultures. Germany and I have come a long way in these 30 years and both have changed a lot.

The chaotic Berlin of the 1990s

My favorite memories are from the early 1990s, the days of anarchy.

Wladimir Kaminer gained fame as a DJ in Berlin and as the author of the book ‘Disco Russia’

I came from Moscow to East Berlin in June 1990. Many houses were vacant after residents left their apartments in haste. These people went to the West because they thought the Wall might come back soon. They thought the whole reunification was a misunderstanding and Russia didn’t pay attention and therefore didn’t interfere – maybe the Soviet Army tank driver stationed in Germany just ran out of gas.

Maybe they sold all their diesel to East German farmers. A friend of mine in the past, a Soviet tank driver who once served near Neuruppin and applied for political asylum in Berlin after reunification, still likes to tell us today that officers actually sold large quantities of fuel to East German residents. They feel insecure, don’t know what to expect at home after their departure from Germany and need an egg nest for dark times.

Even then, the Soviet Union was clearly on its way to capitalism. The Cold War is over, and it’s unclear if there will be any place for Soviet officers in this bleak future. So they sell everything they don’t need anymore. They sell construction materials, radiators, uniforms, fuel – they will probably sell the tank if they can find a buyer for it. But East Germany was so proud of their peaceful revolution that they didn’t want any tanks, only gasoline.

My friend, the tank driver, then got political asylum, and started working for Telecom. “Germany is my home,” he said. “Here all my dreams come true.”

Gray streets in Berlin, 1988 (Jean-Pilippe Lacour / AFP / Getty Images)

Berlin buildings were still gray and the air smelled of burning coal

Dazzled by the air of freedom

Before I moved to Berlin, I envisioned Germany as an orderly, disciplined and clean country, where people are never late for a beer and trams stop at each stop alone. If it’s too boring, I can always move to France or Italy, I thought.

But Berlin fascinates me with its anarchy. The city breathes an air of freedom, reeking of marijuana and nitrogen, which is produced when coal briquettes are burned to warm apartments.

Even today as I drive through the villages of Brandenburg at night, I can still smell this very fragrant coal briquette, which Berliners used to steal from neglected cellars and use for heating.

A brave new market

Berlin and I who reunited are young and full of energy. The residents of the occupied house throw a party in their backyard every week, you don’t need permission from the health department to sell beer on the street.

Image icon |  Punk in the GDR (imago images)

Parties are held in squat houses, like this one in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood

It’s easy to find a used car. West Germans buy new cars because they can sell their used cars to East Germany and make a profit. A car that doesn’t change hands at least three times a year is considered very uncool.

Non-Germans integrated themselves into the city quickly. That Vietnamese enthusiastically selling duty-free cigarettes under the bridge and opening the first Chinese restaurant. “Duck sweet and sour” and “green jasmine tea with plum brandy” were our best sellers.

For East Germans, this is an introduction to the world of global gastronomy. They used to only be allowed to eat ducks at Christmas, but suddenly they celebrate Christmas every day – and for a very cheap price of 9.90 Deutsche Marks! However, evil tongues gossip that many of these cheap ducks are actually just city doves.

That African from Angola and Mozambique opened dance bars where you can go dance and drink. That Russia destroy housing companies; they bribed the officials and were able to buy large apartments at ridiculous prices.

The convenience store is filled every day with Western goods, the salespeople can no longer remember the names of all the cheeses and jams, they just say “Ham wa nischt” [we don’t have that, in Berliner dialect] when people ask things they don’t know.

Customers in supermarket check-out lines (Hubert Link / picture-alliance / ZB)

Suddenly there is more stuff in the former East Berlin supermarkets too

And life is easy

The financing of anarchist life is also guaranteed. You have to go to the social welfare office once a month and without any lengthy discussion you get 500 marks in cash and the occasional little extra for warm clothes and movie tickets.

Russians, Africans and Vietnamese line up at the many telephone booths. Calls to homes are free, all you need is a phone fishing rod: The coins are attached to the fishing line with adhesive tape, and you have to pull carefully each time the phone is “clicked” to get a free call.

The people on the phone had a lot to talk about, so the people in line became impatient; they were constantly calling out to each other. “Stop talking, go back to Angola,” and “Say hello to your uncle Ho.” “Well, did Gorbi hang up?” they’ll ask us Russians.

The Germans watched this circus and wiped their eyes in disbelief. Their cozy little world with its clearly marked entrances and exits dissolves like a ghost.

The bureaucracy finally caught up

It took quite a while for the reunited Germany to reunite and begin to restore order. Finally, everyone who lives in a house without official documents is provided with appropriate lease contracts; rental prices immediately jumped; cigarettes are taken from Vietnam and pass through customs; dismantled telephone booths; and the origins of duck in Chinese restaurants are examined.

A green police truck and two policemen climb the stairs to a house with a banner and graffiti (Christophe Gateau / dpa / picture-alliance)

‘Liebig 34’, one of the houses in Berlin that had closed in the early 1990s, was evacuated in October 2020.

The social welfare office was turned into a work center. You must collect 30 signatures once a month from potential employers who are proven to have rejected you. These regulations destroyed many livelihoods and people had to develop new life plans. Many actually go on to study or even work.

Some remain stubborn and still try to earn a basic unconditional income.

Germany has found its way back to its famous order. Only recently, was one of the last houses ever occupied in the 1990s vacated. Only the memory of the moments of anarchy remains.


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