Washington, Feb 5 (IANS/RIA Novosti) John Kerry recalled a childhood memory of the bleakness of post-War East Berlin, while taking over as the new US secretary of state.
"I really did notice the starkness, the desolation," Kerry said.
He recounted how, at the age of 12 when his father was stationed in West Berlin as a US diplomat, he used his diplomatic passport to venture into the Soviet-controlled sector of Berlin, a city that was divided by the victorious powers after World War II.
"I really noticed the difference between the east and west," Kerry said.
"There were very few people. They were dressed in dark clothing. They kind of held their heads down. I noticed all this. There was no joy in those streets. And when I came back, I felt this remarkable sense of relief and a great lesson about the virtue of freedom."
Kerry also paid a tribute to the two women who preceded him in the post -- Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.
"The big question before the country and the world and the State Department after the last eight years: Can a man actually run the State Department?" he joked.
Clinton is viewed by many as a strong possible contender for the presidency in 2016.
Kerry, who was formally sworn in Secretary of State Friday, has wasted no time in getting down to business.
He has spoken in recent days with key Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as with officials from Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Mexico and Canada, the State Department said.