When the red army cleared the chunk

Suddenly came the last Russian jeep, it was 11.43 o'clock on the 30. March 1994, the soldiers in fur hats peered shyly through fogged windows, the driver honked his horn three times briefly."This is how I began my report on the Russians' withdrawal from the Brocken in the Harz Mountains. 80 Brockenbahn passengers waved friendly after them. Then the occupying forces were gone, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains was finally free. For the first time since the end of the war in 1945 without soldiers. But was that really only at the end of March 1994?

You can't even imagine that today. But that's how it was: Until the summer of 1994, the former Red Army, now called the "Western Group of Troops" after the collapse of the Soviet Union and assigned to Russia, was still present in reunified Germany. Which must be remembered today: Even the peaceful withdrawal of 350.The deaths of thousands of Russian military personnel and their families from more than 600 military bases in East Germany are one of the great fortunes of our recent history.

The people who were leaving the Brocken, I wrote, must have felt like the cosmonauts from the Mir space station who had lost their homeland on Earth in space. The Brocken hikers also felt that gloating and triumph were now least appropriate, rather help, humanity and compassion. The Federal Republic paid more than 12 billion deutschmarks for the withdrawal, the people on the Brocken fed fruit and chocolate to the poor devils holding the fort in drafty barracks. They were young guys who didn't really understand what kind of world they were in.

At 11.43 o'clock on 30. March 1994 I had reporter's luck. When the heavy gate on the Brocken hilltop opened and the last military convoy roared past, about ten people rushed onto the barracks grounds. Me with, also my friend, the Clausthaler Harz and Brocken photographer Hansjorg Horseljau. Behind us, the guards from Wernigerode sealed off the area.

We wandered through an in-between world. I push open the door to the armory, it's empty, of course, but the alarm still goes off. Here it no longer triggers a crisis. listening domes, which just a moment ago housed eavesdropping technology, empty, ghostly echoes wafting around inside them. Then I see it in the soot-smeared snow, the Gaussian point, the historic hill of granite blocks: "1142 M". A moment of happiness. Since then every time again on top of the Brocken.