This text is part of our series D18, with which we want to re-declare Germany Germany. All texts of series can be found here.
In se days one could almost forget that a new ice age has begun between Europe and Russia, so peaceful and colourful are images that appear from Russian stadiums and fan zones on screens of world on a daily basis. And yet this week is one of biggest NATO manoeuvres since end of Cold War.
16,000 soldiers, 1,400 military vehicles, US had moved four weeks ago to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland to play a Russian invasion in Baltic states. On way re, US military drove over Germany's roads. Now troops are on way back. Again through Germany, again also through Brandenburg, where for decades Red Army had come to door. Where US is not remembered as a gum-protecting power, and Russians are not considered barbarian enemy in east.Small Siberia
Anyone who wants to understand relationship between East Germans and Russia should visit part of Brandenburg, which bears nickname of Klein-Siberia. It is huge, barren terrain near town of Lieberose. It used to be largest military training ground in GDR, now Lieberoser Terminal Moraine – as small Siberia actually means – is a huge nature reserve. Forest and soil, however, still tell of former presence of Russians.Chris painter Freelance author, time online to author page
Romeo's bror is a ranger. Since 1977 he has been working here on site, which was formerly a military forest. The 58-year-old has witnessed way in which forest has repeatedly burned down through military exercises. On average, y fought in year with 300 fires. A part of former practice area has not yet grown into a forest. Here vegetation actually reminds of Siberia, a wide steppe covered with silver grass.
Bror deals a lot with past. Reads files from that time, makes history visible through signs in forest, on which words are to remind of past events. It even offers guided tours of area. You could call bror memory of region, as someone who keeps stories alive when Russians were still re.The military was everyday
When he talks about time of Russians, one hears stories full of opposites. It is look of a child who understood military training area as a great adventure playground. Which climbed through tanks, but also saw Ricochets on frozen lake land, exactly where it orwise played hockey. The military was here everyday.
Bror still remembers how air constantly vibrated through noise. How tanks accidentally drove into land, left deep holes in roads. There was a lot of controversy back n, he says. The Russians stole. If sweets were missing from store, it was clear to Germans that y were young soldiers, and officers were suspected of alcohol.
But people also benefited from Russians. You could buy cheap gasoline on practice ground, building materials, valuable watches, rare foods. Much was cheaper in n magazine, supermarket for Russians. And of course friendships also arose. Romeo's bror had been in Russia four times in order to visit an officer's family, who was stationed here earlier.Updated Date: 30 June 2018, 12:02