Andrey Shilov at WordPress

The notes of a journalist working in Europe for Russian TV

Posts Tagged ‘Germany

Russian teeth

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This 69 year old man found the remains of two Red Army soldiers while we were filming him. 30 years of experience, a lot of excavations in the East German fields – Erwin Kowalke really knows the subject. They found the place earlier with some equipment and waited for us. He was digging just for 15 min and then took from the depth of half a meter a bone, another one, then a scull. It’s hard to retell what you are feeling at this moment.

He confidently talked about Russians even though there were no documents or Red Stars there. He immediately recognized that the belt wasn’t a German one but one can take a belt from the enemy. It’s easy to understand whether remains of WWII soldiers belong to Russians, he said. The clue is their teeth (I would never guess!).

“I can tell you: Russians had healthy teeth but slightly ground off. This was a young man, 20-25 years old, the teeth are young, can you see it? This jaw belonged to a Russian, I dug a lot, I am sure of it. Germans ate white bread, sugar, honey, all this worsens teeth so at that age Germans already had their teeth filled. Russians might lack one or two teeth but others were healthy”.

I know little about the social composition of the Red Army. But probably it was recruited mainly from the peasants as the population was rural. And those soldiers hardly had fillings in their teeth. In other words, healthy nutrition.

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August 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

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English Über Alles

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A French perfume on sale in a little autobahn shop in Germany.

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March 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm

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Big Parent

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I got this  questionnaire in the Berlin kindergarten where my daughter goes. 93 pages altogether, 15 pages are to be filled now, the rest later. How your child talks, what s\he plays with, how reacts to your “No” etc.

All parents in Berlin (and I doubt the situation is radically different in other German cities) are supposed to write their answers and bring the book back to their kindergarten. Later the questionnaire  will be brought to school where teachers will read it to get info about the child…

Mein Gott!

That is how it starts, all this endless paperwork between a citizen and the state in Germany.


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February 19, 2010 at 10:18 pm

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Dresden, 13.02.2010

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It’s hard to imagine something that works so easily and – in this case – so strong. The neo-nazi gathering in Dresden has been announced “the biggest in Europe” and with participants from many countries. Still one can’t see “Europe” at a meeting in a German city, one regards the event as a German one. But just one flag makes the whole picture different. Two, actually.

And now – yes, there is a feeling of another scale. Even though the number of people is far from expected 6 000. Is here two thousand, on a square near the Dresden railway station? I am not sure.


More people came afterwards so it looked more impressive. But there were no new flags.

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February 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm

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Will the crisis correct them?

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Buying railway ticket online? Of course!


I tried it twice in Germany – both times with a problem, with a scandal, loosing money. Unbelievable!


Last time I chose the train and time, wrote my bank card number, got a confirmation by email. Is it the end? It’s the beginning!


Then one has to click a link in the email, write login and password, see the word “e-ticket” – and print it? Wrong answer!


-It is not a ticket, – I was told in the train on my way from Berlin to Munich.

-Why not a ticket? It is written here – “e-ticket”. Here is my name, destination, my seat number…

-It is not a ticket. You had to print out the ticket.


I had to pay second time, with cash, right in the train.


Later I learnt that one more step should have been made. You get the email, click the link, write your login and passwod, get the page with “e-ticket” and all other info – and click one more time. Then print it out.


Triple protection!


Today’s story.

My friends came to Berlin from Russia. Well I am experienced guy! I found the site, wrote passenger’s name, paid with my bank card, got confirmation by email, clicked the link, wrote login and password, and clicked, and clicked one more time. And printed out.


I just got a call from my friends from the train: “It’s not working!”

According to the rules of “Deutsche Bahn”, passenger must pay for his ticket himself.

-Why? – I was shouting on the phone. – It is unconvenient! It is inhuman! What’s the difference for you?

-It is the rule and I have to follow it. Your friends refused to pay and will be taken out from the train.


So that’s how I heard about rules in Germany for the first time.

But this story is not about Germans. Russians see unconvenience and dullness in their country often enough, too.


I have been flying with German “Air Berlin” for about three years and I never had any problems with paying, registering, showing documents etc. You write your bank card number – that’s all. No clicking, no passwords, no printing. You paid it. All the rest is the company’s business.


Sometimes it is so plain simple:

there is private business caring about customers,

and there are state behemoths who don’t give a spit about clients. They follow their own rules. The other day the head of “Deutsche Bahn” resigned with a scandal but it won’t change anything: there are no other companies one can use when travelling from Berlin to Hannover.


The rules of market and monopolies are the same everywhere.

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April 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

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Lada. Da-da!

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Lada was a dream for Eastern Germans. Indeed, one would dream even about a Soviet car when there are just cardboard Trabants around you. When the Wall fell normal cars from the West arrived and Volkswagen even built a plant in former GDR.


But I noticed an interesting thing while making a report about today’s sales of Lada in Germany.


Right after the reunification Eastern Germans despised Lada: a communist car, from the USSR… But demand reappeared after some time. Nowadays 60% of all German sales are in the former West Germany and 40% in the former East one – approximately equal to the territory ratio.


So the Soviet shade disappeared during the 20 years. The image has been reinvented, so to say. Now it is just an inexpensive car standing close to Suzukis and Kias in car sales centres. It is far not a leader on the market: just 2400 Ladas were bought in Germany last year while its population is 82 mln. But still people buy it: ”A car for the youth”, “low price”, “a second or a third car for your family”.


Dark legacy of the past disappears during just one generation time. At least on the market.

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April 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm

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Common values

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Some topics are supposed to unite people but it doesn’t always work. For example, world’s “green worry” doesn’t exist in Russia at all compared to other countries. Indeed, a typical story about wind energy in Germany had to wait it’s turn to be shown in my company’s news for more than a month. But the “crisis” suddenly worked: nothing unites Russia and the world better than news about crisis and the way people cope with it. Who the hell in Russia would be interested in some German car-sharing companies? Or some German tricks to boost consumer interest in cars? Now we are making the third story about cars in Germany during  just a couple of months – and all this thanks to a simple approach: how do they deal with the crisis?

Common values, so to say.

Thank you, crisis!

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March 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm

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The Wall

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Nobody reproached me while I was walking along the former Berlin Wall and made a report about today’s perception of it. Even though so many people were killed when trying to cross it, the city and the country are still divided, and it was over just 19 years ago.


Nobody said a word about Soviet ideology, communists from Moscow etc.


As if the Wall appeared from nowhere and vanished by itself.


We didn’t have long discussions with people on the street but if I were asked by a television crew about the Wall I would have mentioned the Soviet authorities, if not the USSR. At least I would have asked back a Russian journalist, “what do you feel?”


So if I ask myself the question – I am ashamed. And I am really interested how many Russians share the feeling.

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November 9, 2008 at 1:42 am

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On AN-2 above Berlin

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Old Soviet planes AN-2 fly above Berlin regularly these days, it is actually the high season. Till Thursday, October 30, when Tempelhof airport closes down.



Here is our ticket. And that’s what AN-2 itself looks like.



This particular plane was made in Poland in 1968 – the pilots say the bi-planes were made in two places outside the USSR – in Poland and in China.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are 9 passenger seats in this AN-2. It used to be a training plane for skydivers during the GDR times, later it has been transformed for sightseeing flights and the seats have been added. As a tenth passenger I got a seat near the pilot…



…but everybody wanted to see everything and take pictures…



so we swapped places and others could enjoy the view.


Old Soviet planes flying above the Brandenburg Gate wouldn’t be nice memories for the Germans, I presume. So we didn’t fly towards the Berlin center.



Tempelhof is situated to the south from the center and the sightseeing route goes away from it. Actually AN-2 has been designed after the WWII, in 1947, and has being produced ever since. The AN-2 history site claims the plane is even in the Guinness World Records Book. Well I don’t know whether it is true but AN-2 is indeed a classic for Russians. “Annushka” is a tender name for it (sounds just like a diminutive from the name Anna); “kukuruznik” (to be pronounced “kookoorooznik”) is a common name, it comes from the word “kukuruza” (“maize” or “corn”). AN-2 is universal and has been used a lot as an agriculturial aeroplane. It works quite well as a tourist plane, too – personal ventilation tools are particularly impressive.



So no Reichstag or Brandenburg gate in view – the only real “Berlin thing” we noticed was the television tower. I will show it in my report on NTV on Friday and will give the link to the video here, too.

UPD Here is the link



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October 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

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I am back from the funeral of an airport

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And tomorrow we will look at the deceased one from the sky (if we are lucky with weather).

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October 28, 2008 at 2:46 am

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