East German Strongman Honecker through His Butler's Eyes
Former East German strongman Erich Honecker religiously knocked back pure lemon juice every morning to ward off colds, his long-serving butler reveals in a new book.
The notoriously dour Honecker, who ran communist East Germany from 1976 until just before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, was very attentive to his health, Lothar Herzog says in "Honecker Privat" (The Private Honecker).
The 190-page memoir is to go on sale a week before the 100th anniversary of Honecker's birth on August 25.
"He upheld the routine in as disciplined and focused a way as a state visit," recalls the man who served Honecker his daily unsweetened vitamin C for about 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now aged 69 and living in Berlin, Herzog comments that his boss seemed to take little pleasure in food -- his meals only had to fulfill three conditions; be simple, hot and familiar dishes.
His drinking tastes favored Western beer, drunk from the can, and he only drank East German beer with guests or at official functions, according to the book.
Though Herzog was tasked with seeing to Honecker's every wish, the two men however rarely spoke.
"I was ordered only to answer when I was asked a question. And since he never asked me anything, there was no reason for us to talk," Herzog writes.
But he accompanied Honecker to more than 30 countries, including on a fishing trip with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and to Japan where the German Democratic Republic leader was left shoe-less after he removed them to visit a palace and somebody else mistakenly put them on.
Honecker, who ran East Germany from 1976 to October 1989, was toppled a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, under popular pressure and abandoned by his masters in Moscow.
He died in exile in Chile in 1994, aged 81.