Are bodyguards reliable in terms of safety and security

Radebeul. What does Erich Honecker's personal protection have to do with the training of Vietnamese skilled nurses? Both topics come together in the person of Bernd Brückner. From 1976 to 1989 he was responsible for the security of the first man in the GDR. Today he runs a large private vocational school in Berlin and trains not only security personnel but also nursing staff. The 67-year-old can be seen in Radebeul on January 20th.

In the afternoon, at the invitation of Volkssolidarität Elbtalkreis-Meißen e.V., he speaks about work with Vietnamese nursing professionals in this country. "We do not recognize Vietnamese training," he says. But the qualification in Germany is possible, among other things, in his vocational school and has a future especially in care for the elderly. He describes the people from Vietnam as extremely hardworking "up to self-abandonment" and as very reliable and respectful.

At 7 pm Brückner comes to the Seventies restaurant for an event organized by Volkssolidarität and the GDR Museum and presents his book “An Honeckers Seite”. He only wrote it when he was allowed to report on the family man Honecker, his father and grandpa. “The way nobody wanted to see it after the fall of the Wall,” says Brückner. Nevertheless, he does not want to glorify anything and is critical of many things today.

Bernd Brückner does not offer a classic reading. He shows photos from his private archive and wants to talk about his years of service at Honecker's side. "Many today cannot understand that personal protection was subordinate to the Ministry of State Security and not to the police," he says. “But that's how it was.” Then he wants to get into conversation with the guests as quickly as possible. The SZ has spoken to him before.

Mr. Brückner, on January 20th you will come to Radebeul to present your book “An Honeckers Seite”. Can the audience be prepared for something surprising? After all, some memoirs by Honecker employees have already appeared.

There is always something surprising. Only if you recognize and interpret certain processes with today's view. When I think about the fact that I see Honecker's great concern for his family - "Woe if something happens to the grandchildren" - today as a grandpa with different eyes. Other issues that I previously considered unimportant, but which were recognized as important by guests at the other book presentation locations, are also valued by me.

Why did you write the book, and why did you write it in 2014? The former GDR's first man had been dead for 20 years.

I had no relation to a book before. It was only after years of urging Frank Schumann from the Edition Ost publishing house that I was curious as a contemporary witness myself.

You not only protected Erich Honecker, but also international politicians, for example Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl on a visit to the GDR. Do you have special memories of that?

The visit to cabbage in the GDR in 1988 was of a private nature. But it was very tense for us. Kohl hadn't brought any bodyguards of his own. We didn't know Kohl's mentality as a guardian. Kohl gave the route, we followed. A completely new situation. Our contact person was Kohl's chauffeur, Ecki, and he was good. It also went through Sachsenland. Because Kohl stayed overnight with his wife Hannelore and son Peter in Dresden, where he attended a soccer game between Dynamo Dresden and Carl Zeiss Jena. Shortly before he drove back to Germany, he stopped and said goodbye to his companions with a handshake and a penknife with a signature. This was otherwise not customary in the Warsaw Treaty.

Do you often go to readings with your book, is it going more to the east or west of the republic? How is the response?

So far, the book presentation has always been to the East, but never to Saxony. But three school classes of 15-year-olds from Nuremberg also needed information, but they did so when visiting Berlin.

How did the Radebeul contact come about?

The contact to Radebeul came about through a preference of Mr. Stritzke from Volkssolidarität Elbtalkreis-Meißen e.V. He is a fan of government vehicles of the GDR, and the Volvoclub Leipzig made contact here.

Have you been to Radebeul before?

Last year a former colleague invited me there to the wine festival. And the year before I was in Radebeul, in Altkötzschenbroda, in the old pharmacy.

What happened to you after Honecker was ousted? Were you able to regain a foothold quickly, or was your past at the side of the GDR head of state detrimental to you?

My family and I had to endure a lot after Honecker was ousted. Some people wanted to demonstrate the "full resistance fighter" here.

You run a school in Berlin for the training of security guards and geriatric nurses. A rare combination, even if protecting and caring somehow go hand in hand, but the clientele is very different. How did you come up with this compilation?

Seen with humor, one could say that personal protection in the GDR was future-oriented. The age of the rulers increased and so did real and anticipated need. So the gentlemen would have continued if we had also started caring for the elderly.

Realistically, good friends drew my attention to the expected market in geriatric care and gave me start-up help.

You are now 67 years. How do you imagine your old age?

Pretty much alive, I have my company. I have contacts in China and Vietnam. In the crap weather here on the beach of Da Nang - a big city in Central Vietnam (d. Red.) - to lie is wonderful. Good food and good beer, and if it works, geriatric care staff trained according to German standards in the future, perfect.

Conversation: Ines Scholze-Luft

Entry price to the book presentation 12 euros. Tickets: DDR-Museum Zeitreise office, 0351 8351780 or [email protected], Restaurant Seventies and box office. The choice of seat is free. Admission to the event in the Seventies from 6 p.m.