My formative years

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My formative years

These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP Anyone who wants to understand Vladimir Putin today needs to know the story of what happened to him on a dramatic night in East Germany a quarter of a century ago.

It is 5 December in Dresden, a few weeks after the Berlin Wall has fallen. East German communism is dying on its feet, people power seems irresistible. Crowds storm the Dresden headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, who suddenly seem helpless. Then a small group of demonstrators decides to head across the road, to a large house that is the local headquarters of the Soviet secret service, the KGB.

But shortly afterwards "an officer emerged - quite small, agitated". My comrades are armed, and they're authorised to use their weapons in an emergency. But the KGB officer knew how dangerous the situation remained. He described later how he rang the headquarters of a Red Army tank unit to ask for protection.

The answer he received was a devastating, life-changing shock. Defiant yet helpless as the revolution swept over him, he has now himself become "Moscow" - the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

My formative years

Above all, it left him with a huge anxiety about the frailty of political elites, and how easily they can be overthrown by the people.

Putin had arrived in Dresden in the mids for his first foreign posting as a KGB agent.

A Brief History of Formative Assessment

The German Democratic Republic or GDR - a communist state created out My formative years the Soviet-occupied zone of post-Nazi Germany - was a highly significant outpost of Moscow's power, up close to Western Europe, full of Soviet military and spies.

Putin had wanted to join the KGB since he was a teenager, inspired by popular Soviet stories of secret service bravado in which, he recalled later, "One man's effort could achieve what whole armies could not.

One spy could decide the fate of thousands of people. Among documents in the Stasi archives in Dresden is a letter from Putin asking for help from the Stasi boss with the installation of an informer's phone. Image copyright Bstu And there are details too of endless Soviet-East German social gatherings Putin attended, to celebrate ties between the two countries.

But if the spy work wasn't that exciting, Putin and his young family could at least enjoy the East German good life. They would wash their windows once a week," she said in an interview published inas part of First Person, a book of interviews with Russia's new and then little-known acting president.

The Putins lived in a special block of flats with KGB and Stasi families for neighbours, though Ludmila envied the fact that: Of course we tried to economise and save up enough to buy a car. He also enjoyed the beer - securing a special weekly supply of the local brew, Radeberger - which left him looking rather less trim than he does in the bare-chested sporty images issued by Russian presidential PR today.

East Germany differed from the USSR in another way too - it had a number of separate political parties, even though it was still firmly under communist rule, or appeared to be.

East Germany, he says, "is his model of politics especially. He rebuilt some kind of East Germany in Russia now. On the streets of Dresden, Putin observed people power emerging in extraordinary ways. Image copyright Bstu Image caption A heavily redacted Stasi document referring to Vladimir Putin and little else In early October hundreds of East Germans who had claimed political asylum at the West German embassy in Prague were allowed to travel to the West in sealed trains.

As they passed through Dresden, huge crowds tried to break through a security cordon to try to board the trains, and make their own escape.

Wolfgang Berghofer, Dresden's communist mayor at the time, says there was chaos as security forces began taking on almost the entire local population.

My formative years

Many assumed violence was inevitable. Image caption The former KGB headquarters in Dresden Image caption The block of flats nearby, where the Putins lived Vladimir Putin had doubtless assumed too that those senior Soviet officers - men he'd socialised with regularly - would indeed send in the tanks.

But no, Moscow under Mikhail Gorbachev "was silent". The Red Army tanks would not be used. He made a speech that left German reunification looking inevitable, and East Germany doomed. Image copyright AP Kohl praised Gorbachev, the man in Moscow who'd refused to send in the tanks, and he used patriotic language - words like Vaterland, or fatherland - that had been largely taboo in Germany since the war.FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT HOME SCIENCE CLASS IX Shiksha Kendra, 2, Community Centre, Preet Vihar, Delhi India Manual for Teachers.

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