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Who really was the Danish professor from the film "Autumn Marathon": International scandal and the Russian soul of Norbert Kuchinke
Who really was the Danish professor from the film "Autumn Marathon": International scandal and the Russian soul of Norbert Kuchinke

He did not have an acting education, he lived all his life in Germany, and got into the cinema quite by accident. After filming the film "Autumn Marathon" by Georgy Danelia, Norbert Kukhinke became a real celebrity in the Soviet Union. But his interest in Russia was not limited to work. The German journalist enthusiastically studied the culture and traditions of the Russian people. How did the life of Norbert Kuhinke develop after filming a movie, and why did a Russian girl become his adopted daughter?

Textile Engineer and Journalist

German journalist Norbert Kuchinke

Norbert Kuchinke was born in the Black Forest in Lower Silesia, which at that time was part of Germany. However, after the end of World War II, this territory was ceded to Poland, and the German population was almost completely evicted. The Kuhinke family was not touched: Norbert's father was a highly qualified miner.

The houses empty after the expulsion of the Germans were inhabited by Poles expelled from the territories of Western Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. In the Polish school where Norbert studied, Russian was taught, and the boy learned to speak and read quite decently.

Norbert Kuchinke

Later, Norbert Kuchinke emigrated with his family to the Federal Republic of Germany, graduated from the institute with a diploma as a textile engineer and specialist in design. True, he never worked in his specialty, he was immediately accepted as a journalist in the economic publication Capital, where he specialized in Eastern Europe.

After the publication of Norbert Kukhinke's article about the Soviet confectionery factory "Red October", the journalist was invited to work at Spiegel. And soon he was sent to Moscow, where he became the own correspondent for the Spiegel magazine in the Soviet capital. Five years later, the West German journalist moved to work for the Stern magazine, remaining in Moscow now as a correspondent for another publication.

International scandal

A still from the film "Autumn Marathon"

In 1979, he agreed to Georgy Danelia's offers to star in the film Autumn Marathon, where he played the eccentric Danish professor Bill Hansen and became a very popular personality in the USSR.

While working on the Autumn Marathon, a real international scandal erupted. When it became known about the filming of a West German journalist, the leaders of the GDR were seriously offended. Georgy Danelia preferred a journalist from Germany to professional actors from a friendly country. The director had to change the nationality of his hero and the German professor turned into Danish.

A still from the film "Autumn Marathon"

Filming in films brought popularity to Norbert Kuchinka, which allowed him to meet influential people in the Soviet Union, which had a positive effect on his professional activities. In addition, he began to receive offers from directors for new roles in films, but he rarely accepted them. Later, the journalist starred in episodes of the films "Two Chapters from the Family Chronicle", "Nastya" and "Where Do Children Come From?" Another serious work in the cinema of Norbert Kukhinke was the film by Sergei Bondarchuk "Boris Godunov", in which the journalist played the captain Walter Rosen.

Norbert Kukhinke, still from the film "Boris Godunov"

He could have starred in another film by Georgy Danelia "Kin-dza-dza!"As a result, Georgy Danelia starred in the role of Abradox himself.

READ ALSO: Behind the scenes "Kin-dza-dza": why did Brondukov have to be removed from the film and … chacha >>

The Russian soul of a German journalist

Norbert Kuchinke

While working in the USSR, Norbert Kukhinke enthusiastically studied Russian culture and became interested in Orthodoxy. His hobby gradually grew into a way of life. The German journalist did not change his Catholic faith until the end of his days, but at the same time he visited Orthodox churches, often attended services. At Norbert Kuchinke's home, Orthodox icons were kept, and he also initiated the construction of an Orthodox monastery, St. George's Monastery in the small town of Götschendorf in Germany.

St. George Monastery in Germany

According to Norbert Kuchinke, only the Christian faith could unite nations after World War II. The desire to build bridges between the two peoples has become the driving force behind many projects of the journalist and public figure. In the year of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, he organized a tour of the cathedral choir of the monks of the Zagorsk Monastery, then began releasing records and CDs with Russian Orthodox chants. Norbert Kukhinke himself often spoke of his Russian soul and had deep respect for Russian culture and the Orthodox faith.

Almost Russian house

Norbert Kuchinke with his wife Katya

Norbert Kuchinke invariably called his wife, with whom the journalist had been legally married for more than half a century, Katya. In 1968, the couple had a son, Christopher, and in 1995 Norbert and Katya adopted 9-year-old Dunya. Katya was the godmother of the daughter of the Russian artist Leonid Purygin. When the artist's wife died in a car accident, and a month later he himself died of a heart attack, Norbert Kuchinke and his wife simply could not stay away. They immediately took Dunya away and filled out all the necessary documents for the girl's adoption.

Norbert Kuchinke

Norbert Kuchinke has always been proud of his home. He collected Orthodox icons and objects of Russian art, in some rooms the furnishings looked more like a museum than a living room. But in the personal office of a journalist and a public figure, a slight creative mess always reigned.

He lived and worked in Berlin, but spent several months a year in Moscow, drawing inspiration from the Russian capital for his books and films about our amazing country.

Norbert Kuchinke

In 2012, Norbert Kuchinka was diagnosed with blood cancer. For more than a year he tried to defeat the disease, but in December 2013 he died in a Berlin clinic during another blood transfusion procedure. He managed to do many good deeds in this life and left a bright memory in the hearts of people.

About 40 years have passed since the release of the "Autumn Marathon", but it still does not lose its relevance and is still very popular with viewers. After the premiere, director Georgy Danelia heard a lot of outraged reviews: the women were unhappy with the fact that the main character never made a choice between his wife and his mistress, and their spouses called "Autumn Marathon" a film of male horrors. And this was not an exaggeration - almost all the members of the film group admitted that they themselves are very close and understandable to the situation in which the hero of Oleg Basilashvili finds himself.

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