A notorious neo-Nazi was among Vladimir Putin’s informants during his time as KGB head of department in Dresden. His name was Rainer Sonntag, he was in prison for a long time and is said to have fought on the “front line” in street battles.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is known for his toughness and ruthlessness – not just since the start of the Ukraine war. During his time as KGB head of department in Dresden, he controlled a neo-Nazi who had great influence on the right-wing scene in Germany.

We are talking about Rainer Sonntag, who was born Rainer Mersiowsky in 1955 and shot in 1991. Journalists from “Atavist Magazine” conducted extensive research into the life of the man who worked as an “agent in the operational area”, led a kind of vigilante group in Dresden and wanted to destroy the brothel trade there.

They held talks with neo-Nazis and eyewitnesses and combed through hundreds of pages of Stasi files. The result of their research can be summarized in a few words: Rainer Sonntag was not an easy person.

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A glance at his childhood shows that. According to Atavist Magazine, Sonntag failed in school, his teachers describing him as easygoing, weak-willed and short-tempered. He had little ambition, he was constantly looking for confirmation.

In 1972, when Sonntag was just 17 years old, he is said to have punched several children in the face. In addition, as reported by Atavist Magazine, teachers caught him singing a derogatory song about the Soviet Union – during a football game.

Sunday the rebel. He lived in Dresden and dreamed of fleeing to the West – this is also evident from the Atavist research. With friends he planned to leave the GDR, the group apparently even organized a pistol for this purpose. “First to Czechoslovakia, then to Austria and finally to West Germany,” the article says.

But the plan failed. As reported by Atavist Magazine, Sonntag and one of his friends were arrested and the Stasi interrogated both. “I knew I was forbidden to go to the capitalist West,” the magazine quoted Sunday’s confession as saying. “But even though I knew that, I wanted to leave.”

Sunday was sentenced to 18 months of hard labor, during which time he was in various prisons. According to the Atavist Magazine report, he acted rebellious and even made fun of the guards there. “I’ll show you a perfect cell, beautiful as a picture,” he is said to have once written.

No one can say with certainty whether his radicalization began in prison. It would be possible, however, since the GDR penal system was considered a “university for National Socialism” according to “Atavist Magazine”. Many prisoners mercilessly flaunted their radical views and even trained new recruits.

Conditions denied by the Communist Party. Police officer Bernd Wagner told Atavist Magazine: “Officially, there was no Nazism in East Germany.” According to the report, when Sonntag was released from prison, he was given a choice: either work as an informant for the Dresden police or he would be arrested again.

Sonntag allegedly agreed to spy on his friends – but at the same time planned a new attempt to escape to the West. About Poland, in the trunk of a car. He failed again and was imprisoned again for “attempting to flee the Republic”. However, he continued to practice his job as a spy, according to the report by the Atavist journalists.

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Vladimir Putin also lived in Dresden in the 1980s. He worked there for the KGB (Komitet Gossudarstvennoj Besopasnosti), i.e. the Soviet secret service. As reported by Atavist Magazine, it was his job to recruit left-wing students, scientists or businessmen as agents. People who were disappointed in the West.

A spy described Putin in a book as someone “who knew how to be polite, friendly, unobtrusive and helpful.” He had shared a desk with the current head of the Kremlin during the Dresden period. “Putin was able to win everyone over. But men old enough to be his father were his forte.”

As Atavist Magazine further reports, at some point Putin became the liaison between the KGB and the Stasi. He is even said to have had his own Stasi ID card. A man named Georg Schneider, who had previously been with the Dresden police, was assigned to him as a K1 man. According to the “Correktiv” platform, it was he who came up with the idea of ​​recruiting Sunday. To make more of him than a small police spy.

The author Regine Igel, who deals with right-wing extremism in Germany, shed light on the possible background of this procedure in “Atavist Magazine”. She believes the East German intelligence apparatus engaged in “massive and long-term direction of German and international terrorism.” Extremists, both left and right, have been “used” to destabilize the West.

Sunday, who had continued to turn to the right-wing scene, was recruited by Schneider, according to “Correktiv”. In the mid-1980s he came to West Germany, where he acted as an “operative agent”. In Frankfurt, Sonntag found a job as a brothel doorman, calling himself a “slut watchman,” as Atavist Magazine writes.

He became really important for Putin and his colleagues in 1988 when he approached the neo-Nazi leader Michael Kuehnen. He founded one party after the other and wanted to come to power through elections. In 1979 he was sentenced to three years in prison for racial hatred and incitement to violence. Sunday quickly became one of his closest confidants.

He is said to have been involved in many Nazi protests, commanding street fighters and hitting them with his fists himself. An insider told Atavist Magazine Sunday had always fought on “the front lines.” When Kühnen fell ill with AIDS, it was clear to many that he would be his successor. For Putin and Schneider, that initially meant more influence.

According to Atavist Magazine, Schneider said in an interview in 1991 that Sunday had proven to be a great weapon “to cause trouble.” Putin was long gone by then – he had left Dresden when the Wall fell. But the “Sonntag” project was not to run for long anyway.

Because in the early 1990s, Sonntag set his sights on the Dresden brothel scene. He was shot while trying to smash the “Sex Shopping Center”. Many of his followers interpreted this as martyrdom. It was the start of a spiral of violence.

Terror broke out all over Dresden, skinheads looted shops and attacked anyone they thought was a “stranger,” write the journalists of Atavist Magazine. Sunday’s memorial service reportedly brought together more neo-Nazis than at any time since World War II.

Even today, the extreme right is still present in Germany, with neo-Nazis demonstrating time and time again on the streets. Rainer Sonntag probably also played his part in this.