I'm sure you good folks remember my story last fall of how Vladimir Putin, during his KGB days, tried to get information from my mother while posing as a tourist? As it turns out, lat week there was a story in the Independent Journal Review titled "When Ronnie Met Vlady," and as you can guess, it was about how President Reagan met Putin -- who was again disguised as a tourist, and who was still a KGB operative -- when he traveled to Moscow in 1988.
|That's Putin on the left. No word on whether or not the child in the foreground is |
supposed to be his kid or not.
I'm not sure why I feel the need to prove that this actually happened... probably because I know that it sounds like such a BS story, but I'm honestly not trying to BS you guys!
Speaking of Berlin, and in an interesting coincidence, I found this blog post by Not Clauswitz, and I actually had an OMG I WAS THERE! moment.
This is the changing of the guard at the Neue Wache, which (at the time) was a "Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism" that was dedicated in 1960. We will set aside, for the moment, the cognitive dissonance involved in having goose-stepping German soldiers guarding a tomb dedicated to the people who were killed by other goose-stepping German soldiers about two generations prior, because there's another story I want to tell you:
On this same trip to Berlin, my parents and I went to see this changing of the guard, as it was a major tourist attraction for Westerners (and probably compulsory attendance for East Berliners). We were along the street, not the sides, and because I was a young child I was in the front row. As it happens, we were right in front of the soldier on the left.
Now, perhaps it was because I was small and they were large, or perhaps it's because I was young and impressionable and thought that because they were Communists they were evil, uncaring people, or perhaps the guards just like putting on a good show -- but I swear to you that I thought he was going to kick me right in the face. You can see how high he steps, and that's approximately head-high to a 10 year old. And he came so close that I could see that his boots had no tread (probably so they'd get that impressive smacking sound on the pavement).
Here is a nifty video showing the changing of the guard. At the 2 minute mark, you can see just how close they get to the onlookers. While I was probably perfectly safe, as I was behind the marked line, to this day you cannot convince me that the guard would not have kicked me right in the head if I had been too close.
Here is another video, this time taken from the side:
There you go: Putin and jackboots. Perhaps not too terrible a pun after all, now is it?