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Red Square In the Heart of Bavaria

RI’s special correspondent in Germany Roman Kut visits Denkendorf, a village he describes as a “rational Russia friendly community in Germany”

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The village of Denkendorf is a pioneer village in Germany when it comes to Russian-German relations. It had established relations with a district of Moscow even before the Iron Curtain fell. Ever since, the people of Denkendorf have been broadening this relationship by initiating numerous projects in Russia. Even now, during the Ukrainian crisis, the community of Denkendorf is planning a project in Russia thus helping to bind the people of Russia and Germany together to overcome the current political instability

Not long ago during a business trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the Russophile community of Denkendorf situated in a picturesque area along the Altmühl river in Bavaria/Germany.

<figcaption>Denkmal der deutsch-russischen Freundschaft</figcaption>
Denkmal der deutsch-russischen Freundschaft

I had an appointment that day, with my customer in his home. Since I’d never been to Denkendorf, it was a joy to see a whole part of this village dedicated to famous Russian poets and composers. I saw street signs named after Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy.  It turns out that the village of Denkendorf is a city twinned with Krasnaya Presnya - a district of Moscow.

Image icon 725255_denkmal_bayerischer_bub_und_russisches_mdchen.jpg
They'll always tell you where and how far their hearts are

The local practitioner Mr. Holtz is an absolute fan of Russia, who has visited the country over seventy times. The waiting room for patients in his office is entirely dedicated to Russia. He accompanied the German Foreign minister Mr. Steinmeier on his journey to Volgograd on the May 10th of this year, the purpose of this visit being to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Second World War with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In a solemn ceremony, Lavrov and Steinmeier laid wreaths at a German soldier’s cemetery in Rossoshka - a village near Volgograd. Just to remind readers, Volgograd is the Russian city - formerly Stalingrad -, where one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War took place.

Another important project this year will be the building of a “peace chapel” in Rossoshka. The ground-breaking ceremony was scheduled for the 6th of September.

The town square in Denkendorf is adorned with beautiful flower frames and various monuments. One monument depicts a dancing girl and boy holding each other’s hands called "Russenmädchen und Bayernbub ", which translated means "Russian girl and Bavarian boy". The monument was created by the famous Russian sculptor Dimitri Ryabichev and is supposed to promote understanding between the people of Bavaria and Russia.

Another monument depicts the former Bavarian prime minister Franz Josef Straub and Michail Gorbachev (former leader of the USSR) and was unveiled by the latter during his visit to Germany in 1993.

On the other side of the square, close to the town hall stands a third monument dedicated to Dimitri Ryabichev the sculptor himself.

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Schönbrunn Palace in Denkendorf

The population of Denkendorf calls the entire architectural ensemble the "Red Square". More than 20 years have passed since the unveiling ceremony with Michail Gorbachev, but the elder part of the town's population still revels in memories about this event.

There are other interesting historical facts in Denkendorf related to Russia. The local landmark of Denkendorf is the famous castle Schönbrunn.  As it happens,this castle was owned by the eldest daughter of Zar Nicolaus I of Russia - Maria Nikolaevna Romanova.

The monument honors the German-Russian friendship showing Michael Gorbachev and Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauss

Today the castle is in the possession of count Maximilian von der Schulenburg. Von der Schulenburg is an old German nobility and the most famous representative of this nobility is Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg who served as the German ambassador to the Soviet Union. He delivered the declaration of war note in June 1941 to Vyacheslav Molotov - Soviet Union's Minister of Foreign Affairs. After the July 20th plot, in which a handful of German officers tried to assassinate Hitler, failed in 1944, von der Schulenburg was accused of being a co-conspirator and executed in autumn the same year.

The community of Denkendorf serves as a shining example of excellent German-Russian relations. My special thanks go to the people of this community who maintain and unremittingly broaden this relationship which binds our people together and helps to overcome the current political instability.

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