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Cold War Conversations

Cold War Conversations

Award-winning real stories of the Cold War told by those that were there. Every week we interview an eyewitness of the Cold War. Across soldiers, spies, civilians, and others, we aim to cover the whole gamut of the Cold War experience. Hosts Ian Sanders, James Chilcott and Peter Ryan bring your ears into the heart of the Cold War. Reading a history book is one thing, but hearing a human voice, with every breath, hesitation and intonation brings a whole new dimension to understanding what it was like to be there.

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The building of the Berlin Wall (263)

From the moment East Germany was formed in 1949, many of its citizens chose to leave to start a new life in the West. By the mid-1950s, the trickle had turned into a flood as large numbers rejected Walter Ulbricht?s Communist paradise. His ?Workers? & Peasants? State? could not afford to lose the skills and productivity of these key workers, so he proposed a radical solution - to physically fence in the whole population. 

I speak with Andrew Long, the author of a series of books about Cold War Berlin as we explore the background and build-up to the building of the Berlin Wall, from the closing of the Inner German border to the momentous events of August 1961.

We examine in detail how Operation Rose, the operation to close the border between East and West Berlin, was planned and executed and look at how the West reacted.

BOOK GIVEAWAY detail here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode263/

Buy Andrew's books here https://amzn.to/3hI6N2Y and support the podcast.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 


Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

Photos and video extra here  https://coldwarconversations.com/episode263/

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-11-26
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Guarding Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy Führer (262)

Dave Phillips is a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. The Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower since Tudor times. 

Dave joined the British Army aged 16 into the Royal Irish Rangers. We hear of his early years in the Army in Northern Ireland and his posting to West Berlin.

In West Berlin Dave is part of the force that guarded Rudolf Hess, a leading member of the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany and appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933. 

On 10 May 1941, Hess made a solo flight to Scotland, where he hoped to arrange peace talks with the British. He was arrested and stood trial at the 1946 Nuremberg trials of major war criminals. The court convicted him of crimes against peace and of conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes and was given a life sentence in Berlin?s Spandau Prison.

 Dave describes interactions with Hess, as well as the guard duties and operation of the prison. 


Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 

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If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

Episode videos and photos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode262/

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-11-19
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From Cold War military drone development, to the deployment and command of the nuclear armed Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in Europe (261)

We continue the story of Richard Stachurski from the previous episode.  Part 1 is here  https://coldwarconversations.com/episode260

In 1971 Richard left NASA and was assigned to the Drone/Remotely Piloted Vehicle Systems Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. 

From 1975-1978 Richard did a tour of duty with the Air Staff at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and between 1978-1981: he was Deputy Program Manager, Ground Launched Cruise Missile Program (GLCM) System Program Office-engaged in the adaptation of the Navy?s SLCM for use by the Air Force. 

In 1981 he was assigned to the staff at USAFE Headquarters (Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany) responsible for the deployment of the GLCM to five European countries (England, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy). 

Richard was then promoted in 1984 to Vice Commander, Commander, 487th Tactical Missile Wing, Comiso Air Station, Sicily where he was responsible for the missile wing's operational readiness, and his troops' welfare.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 

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If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

Episode notes and videos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode261

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-11-12
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Nuclear missile launch control and Mission Control for the NASA Apollo Moon Missions (260)

Richard Stachurski joined the  US Air Force in 1962, on the cusp of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a security police officer guarding nuclear-armed B-58 Hustler bombers.

Within two years he volunteered for the Minuteman nuclear missile program where he served as a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander with the 68th Strategic Missile Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. Richard was the junior officer on a two-man crew in a launch control capsule buried beneath the South Dakota prairie who was charged with monitoring the status and launching if necessary ten Minuteman ICBMs. 

In 1965 he was selected as one of 128 Air Force officers to be loaned to NASA to support the activation and operation of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. He worked his way up to being a Network Controller, who sat two consoles to the right of the Flight Director in the Mission Operations Control Room. He was responsible for all the ground systems that supported an Apollo mission and was selected as the lead Network Controller on Apollo 11 working on both the launch from Earth and the first-ever launch from the lunar surface.

 Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.  One-off donations are also welcome.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

Episode notes , inc photos and video here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode260/

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-11-05
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Britain's 1980s Cold War Dads Army/Home Guard - The Home Service Force

The Home Service Force or HSF was UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Cold War version of the World War 2 Home Guard. 


An almost forgotten unit, the  HSF was established in 1982 and recruited from ex-regular Army, ex-territorial and ex-uniformed service personnel aged up to 60 years old. Its mission was to guard key points in the UK as the perceived threat from Warsaw Pact special forces increased towards the end of the Cold War.

I speak with Richard Coles, who served as an officer in the HSF Company of The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC). He tells of the setup of the unit, the incredible characters he served with and details some of the exercises that he participated in.   


The Cold War Conversation continues in our Facebook discussion group and on Twitter https://twitter.com/ColdWarPod


Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 


Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/


If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.


I am delighted to welcome Richard Coles to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode259

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-10-29
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An aircraft hijack to escape from the Soviet Union (258)

Back in the 1970s, migrating from the Soviet Union was an unattainable dream for many, particularly Jews wanting to leave for Israel. To leave the Soviet Union for another country, it was necessary to obtain exit visas. In practice, many people found them impossible to get. 

On the morning of June 15, 1970, 16 Soviet Jews who had been refused exit visas appeared at  Smolny Airport near Leningrad to hijack a plane. They posed as a group going to a wedding ? hence the name of the operation.

The plan devised a year before the attempted hijacking, was quite straightforward. The hijackers would target a small aeroplane and book all the seats on it. They would commandeer the aircraft and leave the pilots unharmed on the landing strip, while one of the conspirators would take control of the aeroplane and fly it to Sweden.

I speak with filmmaker Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov whose film ?Operation Wedding? reveals the compelling story of her parents, the leaders of the group. 

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.  One-off donations are also welcome.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

I am delighted to welcome Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov  to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes and full film here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode258/

 

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-10-22
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Defending RAF Gatow - Britain's airbase in Cold War Berlin (257)

Trevor Howie?s role at RAF Gatow was advising the Station Commander on Station defence during times of war, tension or terrorist threat as well as the defence of 26 Signals Unit at the Teufelsberg listening post.  

RAF Gatow?s western side was located right against the Berlin Wall which was clearly visible from the control tower. Beyond the Wall was the Döberitz training area for the Soviet and East German Army. 

Soviet jets regularly overflew West Berlin emitting sonic booms to underline the immediate threat from their forces. 

To gain intelligence about the opposition Trevor used the resident De Havilland Chipmunk aircraft to see across the Wall and observe the neighbouring Soviet and East German forces. He describes the defence plans and exercises such as Exercise Grizzly Bear where every member of the air station would have played a part in its defence.

Trevor vividly describes how he heard that the Wall had opened on 9th November 1989. 

It?s a fascinating view of British forces in Berlin and their plans should the Cold War have turned hot.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode257/

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-10-15
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Guarding Britain's nuclear weapons and RAF Akrotiri during the Cold War (256)

Following his RAF Regiment officer training Trevor Howie was posted to 34 Sqn at Raf Akrotiri in Cyprus, commanding  C Flight. The RAF regiment was effectively the Royal Air Force?s infantry, providing ground defence for air operations.

34 Sqn had a dual role of providing defence at Akrotiri and in the event of war at RAF Wildenrath in Germany. 

Trevor vividly describes his time at Akrotiri, including terrorist threats and realistic anti-riot training exercises the enthusiasm of the  Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders required a hospital ward to be kept available for casualties.   

In 1986 Trevor became involved in Nuclear Weapon Security training, where the training techniques he introduced were the subject of complaints. His service also includes stints at RAF Greenham Common where he describes providing support to the US nuclear-armed cruise missile deployment there. 

Don?t miss next week?s episode where Trevor is posted to RAF Gatow in West Berlin as the Station Regiment Officer,  responsible for advising the Station Commander on how to defend the Station during times of war, tension or terrorist threat.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-10-08
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The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with Sir Max Hastings (255)

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is reckoned to be one of the most perilous events in history, when the World  faced a looming nuclear collision between the United States and Soviet Union. During those weeks, the world gazed into the abyss of potential annihilation.

I speak with Sir Max Hastings whose new history  Abyss: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 tells the story from the viewpoints of national leaders, Russian officers, Cuban peasants, American pilots and British disarmers. The period is brought to life with eye-witness interviews, archive documents and diaries, White House tape recordings, and top-down analysis. More than purely a focus on the 13 days of the crisis, the book provides context through the Cold War experiences of Fidel Castro?s Cuba, Nikita Khrushchev?s Russia, and Kennedy?s America. 

Among the areas we discuss are how Cuba became a crisis, the failure of intelligence on both sides,  and those nail-biting Thirteen Days in which Armageddon beckoned.

 Buy the book and support the podcast https://amzn.to/3rlPLsM

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode255/

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-10-01
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?Houston, we?ve had a problem? interview with Fred Haise, Apollo 13 astronaut (254)

Fred Haise was one of the three astronauts on the ill-fated Moon mission when a design fault caused an oxygen tank to explode mid-mission putting the Apollo 13 crew in mortal danger on April 13th, 1970.  This was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon.

Now as you can imagine I?m genuinely excited to be speaking with one of the Apollo astronauts. Fred and I talk about his life and his almost accidental entry into flying. We cover his admission into the astronaut programme, the family impact, and as you can imagine go into some detail about his experiences on the Apollo 13 mission. 

Many of you will know of this mission via the Film ?Apollo 13? starring Tom Hanks, and Fred shares his views on the film and corrects some of the inaccuracies.

Buy Fred's new book  Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut's Journey  and support the podcast here https://amzn.to/3DvCRzN

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link.

I am delighted to welcome Fred Haise to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode254

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 All audio/video/photos courtesy of NASA.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-09-24
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An 18 year old US Military Policeman in Cold War West Berlin (253)

Richard Blevins enlisted aged 18 in the US Army in March of 1987.  He completed  Basic Training  & Military Police School training in July of 1987 and was posted to West Berlin as a United States Military Policeman. 

He describes his selection for Berlin duty while at Rhine-Main AFB in Frankfurt and his first journey across East Germany on the US Duty train to West Berlin.  

Richard?s first year consisted of patrol duties and combat training as well as serving at Checkpoints Bravo and Charlie as the assistant to the Non-commissioned Officer in Charge. 

He also got selected as a traffic accident investigator in 1988 where he would patrol with the West Berlin Police and respond to all car accidents involving US military, dependents, and civilian workers as well as West German nationals. 

Richard also describes how he heard the news on November 8th, 1989, that Erich Honecker had lifted all travel restrictions on East Germans starting at midnight.  

He is a close friend of Michael Rafferty who appeared in episode 13 with his account of the last days of Checkpoint Charlie. Don?t miss Michael?s video of 1980s Berlin in the episode notes.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Richard Blevins to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode253

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Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-09-17
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A trip across Central Europe on a East German MZ motorbike (252)

MZ was an East German motorcycle manufacturer located in Zschopau, Saxony. The acronym MZ stands for Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH (German for Zschopau engine factory). 

In the 1980s MZ was regarded by the British motorcycle press as producing ugly and old-fashioned (if worthy) motorcycles however, there was a hard-core set of UK fans who loved this relatively, cheap and easy-to-repair bike.

Julian Howe was a big fan of the MZ bike. He tells of a bizarre honeymoon of fellow MZ club members which involved  MZ bike fans from across the UK touring Western Europe and the Warsaw Pact Countries. 

From sharing drinks with border guards to being on the receiving end of CS gas in Krakow it?s a tour through late 1980s Europe on the back of a two-stroke MZ motorbike.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Julian Howe to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode252

Follow us on Twitter here https://twitter.com/ColdWarPod

Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/coldwarpod/

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Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-09-10
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Imprisoned in a Soviet Military gaol - a BRIXMIS officer's diary Pt 2 (251)

This is the 2nd part of my interview with Lt Col. Stephen Harrison, MBE who served for two years as a full-time Touring Officer with BRIXMIS. The tours were hazardous three-man, vehicle-borne patrols collecting intelligence on the Warsaw Pact forces in East Germany for up to five days and nights over a series of four-month patrolling periods. 

In this episode, we hear of Stephen?s imprisonment in a Soviet Army gaol, following detention in a Soviet Army garrison town as well as East German and Soviet Army press coverage about his activities. 

Stephen?s speciality was using his language skills to engage and befriend opposition troops and thereby gaining valuable intelligence. He used to go into bars frequented by Soviet officers and recalls one particular drunken night in Potsdam..  

We also hear about his visit to the infamous World War 2 prison camp of Colditz castle where he befriends the staff enabling other BRIXMIS tours to visit regularly.

Stephen also shares details of the top-secret Operation Tomahawk, a particularly unpleasant mission which may not be for those of a sensitive disposition.

In later years Stephen obtained his Stasi file which reveals that the surveillance on him was far closer than he?d ever believed.

Don?t miss part 1  of this fascinating interview here.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Stephen to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode251/

Follow us on Twitter here https://twitter.com/ColdWarPod

Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/coldwarpod/

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There is nothing

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-09-03
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Arrested 11 times, plus 3 shooting incidents - a BRIXMIS officer's diary Pt 1 (250)

Lt Col. Stephen Harrison, MBE served for two years as a full-time Touring Officer with BRIXMIS. These Tours were hazardous three man, vehicle-borne patrols collecting intelligence on the Warsaw Pact forces in East Germany for up to five days and nights over a series of four-month patrolling periods. 

They lived in the field and did not carry weapons while Soviet and East German troops were nearly always armed, and their ever-present sentries carried live ammunition. The Tours operated in the closest proximity to these hostile and aggressive Warsaw Pact troops whose orders permitted them to use whatever force necessary, including opening fire, to protect the property they are guarding.

We hear in detail about  Stephen?s experiences in these demanding and frequently dangerous situations, as well as how he used his language skills to engage and befriend opposition troops gaining valuable intelligence which made him a particular threat to the Soviets.

Don?t miss part 2  here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode251/

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Stephen to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode250/

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2022-08-27
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Life in the forbidden zone at the East/West German border (249)

A young Claudia Bierschenk lived at the edge of a world called the GDR, in a village surrounded by hills, valleys and thick forests. 

Her great uncle lives in the Forbidden Zone, the area where the East German border is a few metres away from West Germany. This is where the villages are like ghosts towns and inhabitants need special permits to enter.

Claudia provides a vivid and unique description of entering the Forbidden Zone for the first time after being granted special permits to visit her Great Uncle on his 80th birthday. His house is the last house before the final border fences and Claudia describes  up close to the fences, while her grandfather tells her about ?rabbit discos??

We also hear more of her life in this isolated area, including strange sports activities and Claudia?s experience of being trained as a 12-year-old Para medic.

We end the episode talking about how she and her family experienced the momentous events of 1989 when the border opens, and East Germans are free to cross into West Germany. 

Claudia has distilled these stories into a book, Never Mind, Comrade, published by Tangerine Press

Don?t miss our previous episode with Claudia here https://pod.fo/e/137f1e

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll become part of our community and get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Claudia to our Cold War conversation?

Enter the draw to win a copy of the book here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode249/

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Radio GDR
If you are interested in East Germany we can highly recommend our friends over at Radio GDR.

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2022-08-20
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The girl at the edge of the World - an East German childhood at the West German Border (248)

 A young Claudia Bierschenk lived in a village surrounded by hills, valleys and thick forests at the edge of a world called the GDR. It could be beautiful, but the Iron Curtain runs through it, like a tectonic plate separating East and West and Claudia from her West German relatives. 

She tells of her life in this isolated area, of village life, far away from the socialist showpiece of East Berlin, where there are only two types of yoghurt in the village store.

In a series of snapshots, we re-live her childhood of secretly watching West German TV, learning ?Marxism-Leninism for kids?  at school, and the rare joy of a phone call from the West.

We also hear of her parents? challenges. For her father, it?s his home village, but he is criticised for his liberal views and for wearing Western braces to school.  Locals see her mother as an outsider, and she yearns for a life in the West with her sister in West Berlin.

Claudia has distilled these stories into a book, Never Mind, Comrade, published by Tangerine Press. Buy the book here https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1549/9781910691700

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us and sharing them on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Claudia Bierschenk to our Cold War conversation?

Listen to the 2nd part of this interview here. https://pod.fo/e/1395f8

Don't miss your chance to win a copy of Claudia's book here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode248

All photos are © Claudia Bierschenk.

Follow us on Twitter here https://twitter.com/ColdWarPod

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Radio GDR
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2022-08-13
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A daughter's 18 year search for her Cold War CIA pilot father at the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba (247)

In 1961, members of the Alabama Air National Guard secretly took part in the failed invasion of Cuba by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles known as the Bay of Pigs. This was a covert attempt by the United States to overthrow the Soviet-allied Cuban government of Fidel Castro. 

Pete Ray was one of eight Alabama guardsmen who flew combat missions on April 19th 1961,  which resulted in the deaths of Pete and three members of the Alabama unit.  U.S. President John F. Kennedy later acknowledged America's involvement but denied that American military personnel had entered Cuban territory. It was not until 1987 did the U.S. revealed that eight ANG members had indeed flown into Cuban airspace. 

We hear from Pete Ray?s daughter Janet, who tirelessly worked to find out the truth of what happened that day despite the best efforts of the CIA, the Cubans, and the US government to obstruct her investigations.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Janet Ray to our Cold War conversation?

Photos and videos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode247/

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2022-08-06
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British Army Air Corps helicopter co-pilot in Cold War Germany (246)

Paul continues his story with his recruitment into the Army Air Corps. It?s initially delayed with a tour providing airfield repair in West Germany and then the Falklands, but finally, he?s at training at Middle Wallop, the home of the Army Air Corps.  

He describes the training including underwater escapes, flying and navigation. As a Gazelle crewman, his role was navigator, observer and co-pilot.  We hear of exercises including the lesser-known  Railex/Probex,  a US, French and British exercise to re-open a land corridor to West Berlin should the links be closed by Warsaw Pact forces and the British Frontier Service.

Paul?s story is again full of great anecdotes and the dangerous reality of flying low-level missions in a single-engine aircraft including a forced landing with a General on board.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Paul to our Cold War conversation?

Photos and videos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode246/

Don?t miss our previous episode where Paul joins the Army as a boy soldier in the Royal Engineers here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode245/

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2022-07-30
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A boy soldier in the Cold War Royal Engineers (245)

Paul joined the Royal Engineers in 1977, aged 16 as an apprentice. We hear of his experience of joining the army at such a young age and being away from home for the first time.

 After initial training his  first posting was to Osnabruck in 1979. Shortly after his arrival Paul is appointed to the challenging role of driver to the Squadron Sergeant Major

With participation in exercises such as Crusader 80 and Active Edge Paul  describes  in detail the role of Royal Engineers in Cold War Germany, including  mine laying, bridge demolition and  fixed defence construction.

Paul?s story is full of great anecdotes and tales of the reality of life in the British Army of the Rhine.

Don?t miss our next episode where Paul joins the  Army Air Corps and becomes an Aircrewman Observer on Gazelle helicopters along the Inner German Border.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Paul to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode245/

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2022-07-23
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A Mormon missionary in Cold War East Germany (244)

In the early 1980s East Germany had just 5000 members of the Church of Latter-day Saints, many of which had been members since before World War 2. 

In 1982 East German leader Erich Honecker historically allowed the church to build a temple in Freiberg and in 1988 Mormon missionaries were allowed into East Germany. Ken Brady describes his experiences as a Mormon missionary in East Germany as the country gradually disappeared and was absorbed into West Germany. 

Ken also gives us a valuable view of life away from Berlin in cities such as Cottbus, Gorlitz, Schwerin, Frankfurt an der Oder and Eisenhüttenstadt. It?s a fascinating story told with humour and candour as Ken grapples with local dialects, the local food and tricks with East German currency. 

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Ken to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode244/

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Radio GDR
If you are interested in East Germany we can highly recommend our friends over at Radio GDR.

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2022-07-14
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US Navy Cold War airborne electronic reconnaissance (243)

KC flew the US Navy?s airborne Electronic Reconnaissance during the 1980s in the Lockheed EP-3 which is an electronic signals reconnaissance version of the P-3 Orion.

He flew as a Navigator, Senior Electronic Warfare Evaluator and Mission Commander.

We hear about several missions he was involved in including his first detachment to Athens the then main USN operating base for missions in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.

We also hear about flying in the Baltic from bases in the UK (Mildenhall/Wyton) or FRG (Schleswig-Jagel). Flying from Keflavik in Iceland KC monitored a huge Soviet Navy exercise in the Norwegian Sea involving the Kiev, Kirov, and numerous cruisers, destroyers, and frigates.

In the 1980s Libya was claiming the Gulf of Sidra as its territorial waters and KC flew in support of ?freedom of navigation? operations involving USN ships.

It?s a great insight into a relatively unknown part of Cold War air operations.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome KC to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode243/

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If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.


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2022-07-09
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My life laid bare through secret police files (242)

What is it like to be under secret police surveillance? On 10 March 1983, 12-year-old Carmen Bugan returned from school to find Romanian secret police in her living room. Her father?s protest against the regime had changed her life forever. 

In recent years Carmen gained access to the files of the Romanian secret police. She herself is surprised by the intimacy of the surveillance. Forgotten conversations, love letters, and arguments are all laid bare via the detailed notes taken by the Securitate.  We hear the sadness of discovering friends and family members were involved in informing on them too.   

Carmen and I  discuss the ?language of oppression?, the subtle and not-so-subtle methods used to try and ensure a compliant population but still thwarted by humanity even in the darkest recesses of the Romanian prison system. 

It?s a warning from history and the meaning of freedom in current times.

Buy the book here Carmen Bugan Books UK Listeners
Carmen Bugan books US listeners

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation me will keep this project going and allow me to continue preserving these incredible stories. You?ll join our community, get a sought-after CWC drinks coaster as a thank you, and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome back Carmen Bugan to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode242/

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2022-07-02
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Royal Military Police versus the Soviets (SOXMIS) in Cold War West Germany (241)

Keith Bailey Joined British Army at 16 in 1973. He was recruited into the Blues and Royals, (Household Cavalry) and served in West Germany as a gunner in Chieftain tanks. 

However, he was keen to serve in the Royal Military Police and particularly 19 (Support) Platoon known as "The White Mice". Their role was to track the SOXMIS (Soviet Military Mission) in West  Germany. 

SOXMIS operated under a 1946 agreement where the Soviets, British, US and French agreed to exchange mission groups to patrol the opposing side?s then zones of occupation.

The agreement continued to 1990 and needless to say both sides bent the rules somewhat? 

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Keith Bailey to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes & photos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode241/

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2022-06-25
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The man who built his own nuclear bunker (240)

Graham Bate was 30-year-old Civil Servant when he built his own nuclear bunker in the garden of his rural home 20 miles outside Hull in the UK.

It was here that the Bate family expected to survive for at least 3 weeks after a nuclear attack.

We speak with Graham Bate and his son Conrad who was 5 years old when the bunker was built and has vivid memories of the period.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will help preserve these accounts and keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Graham and Conrad Bate to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information on this episode here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode240/

Special thanks to Al McCann who helped facilitate this episode. Please visit his website Northern Ireland's Secret Bunker. A Cold War 'Living' Museum situated in County Armagh https://www.facebook.com/nibunker/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation.

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.

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2022-06-18
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Cold War number stations (239)

You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether.  These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries.

Number stations were used widely during the Cold War and we speak with Jo Reggelt of ShortwaveNumbers.com. Jo has been working with Simon Mason who was a founding member of ENIGMA, launched in the 80s after identifying several of these stations.

We discuss in detail the operations behind the transmissions and the stations themselves. You will hear some sample transmissions, including one drunken Stasi officers serenading their agents after the opening of the Wall.

We also detail a UK spy case that centred on capturing an agent red-handed listening to a numbers station.

There?s further information including links,  audio samples and books here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode239/

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free.

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one-off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Jo Reggelt to our Cold War conversation?

Jo's website is here https://www.shortwavenumbers.com/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated

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2022-06-11
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Air warfare in the Cold War (238)

The Cold War years were a period of unprecedented peace in Europe, yet they also saw a number of localised but nonetheless very intense wars throughout the wider world in which air power played a vital role. 

I speak with former Cold War Tornado pilot and acclaimed aviation historian Michael Napier who has written Flashpoints: Air Warfare in the Cold War published by Osprey which describes eight of these Cold War conflicts. 

We discuss the wide range of aircraft types used and the development of tactics over a period of revolution in aviation technology and design which  saw some of the most modern technology that the NATO and Warsaw Pact forces deployed.

UK listeners buy the book here

US listeners buy the book here 

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Michael Napier to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode236/

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2022-06-04
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Arrested by the KGB and taken to the Lubyanka prison (237)

Marti Peterson was the first female CIA operative to be assigned to Moscow, probably the most challenging posting during the Cold War.

Don't miss the previous episode here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode236/

This second episode turns to TRIGON, the code name for Alexandr Ogorodnik. He was an official in the Soviet Embassy in Bogota, Columbia recruited by the CIA in 1973. Marti and TRIGON never met in person, but they shared information through dead drops and intelligence. We hear about the tradecraft involved.

Marti is arrested by KGB agents and taken to Moscow's Lubyanka Prison for questioning and talks in detail about that experience.

UK listeners buy Marti's the book here and support the podcast
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Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Marti Peterson to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode237/

Episode one is here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode236/

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2022-05-28
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The first female CIA officer in Cold War Moscow (236)

Marti Peterson was the first female CIA operative to be assigned to Moscow, probably the most challenging posting during the Cold War. Her story begins in Laos during the Vietnam War where she accompanied her husband John, a CIA officer. She describes their life in a small city in Laos, and the devastating news she received on October 19, 1972.

Marti returned to the United States and one night at dinner a good friend suggested she look into working for the CIA. 

After making it clear to CIA recruiters that she didn?t want to be a secretary or an admin assistant they trained her to become an operative, effectively a spy. When Marti was posted to Moscow during the day, she worked as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy. At night, on weekends and during her lunch breaks, she would report to the CIA station in the same building to do her work as an operative.

UK listeners buy Marti's the book here and support the podcast
US listeners buy Marti's the book here and support the podcast

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Marti Peterson to our Cold War conversation?

Episode notes here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode236/
Listen to episode 2 here https://coldwarconversations.com

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2022-05-21
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The 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang, North Korea (235)

The 13th World Festival of Youth and Students was held from 1?8 July 1989 in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It was the largest international event staged in North Korea up until then.

The event took four years of preparation by the North Korean government, which effectively spent a quarter of the country's yearly budget (US$4.5 billion) on it. Ultimately declared as the largest ever World Festival of Youth and Student with  about 22,000 people from 177 countries attending.

This event was the last festival held during the Cold War era as waves of unrest began to occur throughout Central and Eastern Europe later on in the year.

Greg Elmer has directed the film ?The Canadian Delegation? which features long time activist Chris Frazer who was handed the task of assembling a Canadian delegation to North Korea. The film follows Frazer and a number of other delegates as they recount their participation in the Festival as world events continued to unfold around them.

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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Today?s episode is hosted by co-host Peter Ryan. I am delighted to welcome Greg Elmer to our Cold War conversation?

Watch the film here

There?s further information and videos here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode235/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

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2022-05-14
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Britain?s Cold War Human Chemical Warfare Experiments (234)

Ian Foulkes was exposed to the deadly nerve agent Sarin in 1983 at the  Porton Down Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment., one of the UK's most secretive and controversial military research facilities.

Ian describes in detail the process and the ill effects this caused him and shares details of a little-known fatality where 20-year-old Ronald Maddison died 45 minutes after what scientists thought was  200mg of liquid Sarin dripped onto his arm.

We also talk about the development of chemical weapons during the Cold War and the history of the Porton Down Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment. 

Up to 20,000 people took part in various trials at Porton Down from 1949 up to 1989. In 2004 Maddison?s death was ruled to have been Corporate Manslaughter. The MoD withdrew a challenge to this ruling minutes before the hearing. In 2008  the MoD paid 600 veterans of the tests £8k each without admitting liability.

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one-off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Ian Foulkes to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information on this episode in our show notes which can also be found as a link in your podcast app here. 

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

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2022-05-07
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Flying for the CIA's Air America in South East Asia (233)

In 1964, pilot Captain Hansen found himself unemployed. He began to send out feelers to several companies including one that had placed an ad in the Washington Post called Air America. When he was called in for an interview which primarily consisted of two questions - can you fly good and do you drink a lot.

Air America was the airline owned by the CIA. Its operations were unknown. Its schedules were irregular. Its pilots were shadow people. Its world was the world of spooks, covert air ops, adventure, and danger. Hansen would be flying in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and other locations in Southeast Asia. It could not have been a better fit for Hansen, an addicted adrenaline junkie. He would end up staying in Asia for over a decade and was fortunate enough to live to tell us about it in his book ?Flight?

Buy Neil's book here

Cold War history is disappearing; however a simple monthly donation will help preserve it and keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Neil Hansen to our Cold War conversation?

Further information is here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode233/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated. 

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2022-04-30
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A photojournalist in Cold War Eastern Europe (232)

During the 1970s and 1980s, Arthur Grace travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain, working primarily for news magazines. One of only a small corps of Western photographers with ongoing access, he was able to delve into the most ordinary corners of people's daily lives, while also covering significant events. His remarkable book Communism(s) A Cold War Album is effectively psychological portraits that leave the viewer with a sense of the gamut of emotions in that era.

Illustrated with over 120 black-and-white images-nearly all previously unpublished- Communism(s) gives an unprecedented glimpse behind the veil of a not-so-distant time filled with harsh realities unseen by nearly all but those that lived through it. Shot in the USSR, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia and the German Democratic Republic, here are portraits of factory workers, farmers, churchgoers, holidaymakers and loitering teens juxtaposed with Social Realist-designed apartment blocks, annual May Day Parades, Poland's Solidarity movement (and the subsequent imposition of martial law) and the vastness of Moscow's Red Square.

Buy the book here https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1549/9788862087674

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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We welcome Arthur Grace to our Cold War conversation?

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

More episode info here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode232/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.


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2022-04-23
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Escaping from Cold War Romania (231)

Zsolt Akos Pall was 17 when he decided to flee Cold War Romania for a better life in the West.  

It?s a heart-warming story of the generosity of strangers. Young Zsolt finds compassionate border guards, gets lost in Vienna and has incredible luck wherever he turns as he negotiates the iron curtain as well as many other international borders to reach his brother in Sweden 

However, his escape is bittersweet as we hear of his emotional farewell to his parents, not knowing if he?d ever see them again.

Cold War history is disappearing; however a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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I am delighted to welcome Zsolt to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information here.  https://coldwarconversations.com/episode231/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

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2022-04-16
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A Hungarian childhood in Cold War Romania (230)

Zsolt Akos Pall was born in a small town in the Hungarian speaking part of Romania. 

For ordinary people, life in Romania in the 1980s was very hard and it could be even worse if you were a part of the Hungarian Szekler minority since the Communist government persecuted the Hungarian minority. They even made them change their Hungarian names into Romanian. Zsolt's brother was renamed Istvan to Stefan. However, Zsolt was baptised Zsolt, since there was no Romanian equivalent to it.

Zsolt describes the shortages, his schooling and many other stories of life in Romania during this period.

We end the episode with Zsolt?s plans to escape to Sweden. Don?t miss Part 2!

Cold War history is disappearing; however, a simple monthly donation will keep this podcast on the air. You?ll get a sought after CWC coaster as a thank you and you?ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. 

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If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Zsolt Akos Pall to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode230/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

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2022-04-09
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The shooting down of KAL007, the Able Archer exercise and the nuclear war scare of 1983 (229)

The year 1983 was one of the most dangerous in human history. While the Cuban crisis was exceptionally dangerous and both the United States and the Soviet Union had significant nuclear arsenals in 1962, a war in 1983 would have likely ended the human race.

Brian Morra was Chief of Intelligence Analysis for US Forces Japan at Yakota airbase when on 1st September 1983 an unarmed Korean airliner was shot down by a Soviet fighter causing the deaths of 269 people. He describes the less well known subsequent incidents between Soviet and US military aircraft which almost resulted in a shooting war between the two superpowers.

During this period the Soviet leadership believed the US was going to launch a nuclear attack on their country. Their paranoia was heightened by several incidents during 1983 which are dramatized in Brian?s new novel  ?The Able Archers?,  which is based on his experiences during that period.

UK listeners buy the Able Archers book here

US listeners buy the Able Archers book here

Robert M. Gates, former CIA Director  and Secretary of Defence describes ?The Able Archers? as ?a powerful reminder of the value of human judgment?and the continuing peril posed by nuclear-armed powers.?

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I am delighted to welcome Brian Morra to our Cold War conversation?

 Brian's Web site https://brianjmorra.com/

There?s further information on this episode in our show notes which can also be found as a link in your podcast app here. https://coldwarconversations.com/e

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2022-04-02
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Charlotte Philby talks about her grandfather Soviet spy Kim Philby & her book "Edith & Kim" (228)

In June 1934, Kim Philby met his Soviet handler, the spy Arnold Deutsch. Kim Philby was a British intelligence officer and a double agent for the Soviet Union. In 1963 he was revealed to be a member of the Cambridge Five, a spy ring that had divulged British secrets to the Soviets during World War II and in the early stages of the Cold War.

The woman who introduced Philby to Deutsch was  Edith Tudor-Hart and her story has never been told.

Edith Tudor Hart changed the course of 20th-century history. Then she was written out of it.

I speak with Charlotte Philby, granddaughter of Kim Philby.  Charlotte has written "Edith and Kim" which draws on the Secret Intelligence Files on Edith Tudor Hart, along with the private archive letters of Kim Philby. This finely worked, evocative and beautifully tense novel tells, for the first time, the story of the woman behind the Third Man.

We also hear from Charlotte what it was like having Kim Philby as her grandfather, including details of visits to see him in Moscow during the Cold War. It?s a fascinating insight into one of the most notorious spies of the Cold War. 

Now, this podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to you.

If you?d like to continue to hear the podcast and help preserve Cold War history, you can support me via one off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details. 

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Charlotte Philby to our Cold War conversation?

Book giveaway details further information here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode228/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

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2022-03-26
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The first woman to graduate from French Commando school (227)

Maura McCormick was posted to Berlin as a Signals Intelligence voice interceptor (Russian). Her workplace was the Teufelsberg  U.S. listening station,  aka Field Station Berlin.

Maura shares her early impressions of Berlin and working at the Tberg. She talks about her impressions of the infamous James Hall,  a United States Army warrant officer and signals intelligence analyst who sold eavesdropping and code secrets to East Germany and the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1988.

Maura also recounts a close call with Hüseyin Y?ld?r?m, a Turkish-American auto mechanic who was a Stasi courier for the espionage activities of James Hall.

Maura often visited East Berlin where she tells of an unusually close encounter with a chimney sweep that almost resulted in an international incident.

In West Berlin, Maura became the first woman to graduate from French Commando school. The commandant had a nightly call to Paris to confirm that she had survived the day's training?

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one-off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details. 

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Maura McCormick to our Cold War conversation?

More info and videos related to this episode here  https://coldwarconversations.com/episode227/

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2022-03-19
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Betrayed by comrades (226)

Liz Kohn has been researching Alice Glasnerová, who was imprisoned as part of the early Cold War Czechoslovak show trials known as the Slansky trials. 

These were among the most notorious show trials of the 20th century, with the prosecution and sentencing to death of Rudolf Slánský, general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist party, and 10 other defendants, who had been arrested in a brutal purge ordered by Stalin.

Alice Glasnerová was Liz?s father?s first wife.  When Liz started researching Alice?s life she had never seen a picture of her and had never read a word she had written. All I knew was that she had been married to her father and had been a member of the communist party. Liz has pieced together a tragic story of a couple although deeply in love, who were separated by the difference in their political views which ultimately resulted in pain, disillusion and betrayal.

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one-off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details. 

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Liz Kohn to our Cold War conversation?

 You can read more about Liz?s research on her blog https://lookingforalice.com/

There are further videos, photos and information on this episode here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode226/

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2022-03-12
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My father, the KGB spy (225)

In 1978, Ieva Lesinska was a university student in Soviet Latvia with dreams of becoming a writer. She had just spent a heady month in New York visiting her father, Imants Lesinskis, a Soviet translator working at the United Nations. However, he was an employee of the KGB and a member of the Communist Party.

During her trip to the US, Ieva?s father informed her that he and his wife Rasma were about to defect. He offered her a blunt choice: take a taxi to the Soviet Embassy and denounce him as a traitor, or stay with him and never see her mother or her homeland of Latvia again. She chose to stay.

The new family officially became East German immigrants with new identities: Peter and Linda Dorn, and their daughter Evelyn. They were citizens of nowhere who possessed re-entry permits but no passports. In 1985, soon after Mr Lesinskis publicly disclosed confidential items on various KGB operations in Latvia, he died under mysterious circumstances.

Watch the film about Ieva story here:
UK https://amzn.to/3In12Ra US https://amzn.to/3xRZsBX

 
This podcast relies on listener support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available for free. You can support my work and help to preserve Cold War history via one-off or monthly donations

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/  for more details.

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I am delighted to welcome Ieva Lesinska to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode225/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.

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2022-03-05
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"Three, Two, one, detonation..." a Royal Navy nuclear test veteran remembers (224)

The British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) is the Charity for UK Nuclear Veterans and last year they very kindly invited me to the annual conference. I met many veterans including Peter Lambourne and this is his story.

Peter joined the Royal Navy aged 15. He describes those early days including serving on HMS Wizard during the Cod War with Iceland in 1961.

In 1962 Peter was then posted to HMS Resolution which was the codename for the nuclear bomb testing base on Christmas Island. 

Peter?s base was less than 20 miles away from where hydrogen bombs were being detonated and he shares his experiences of those detonations.

Many servicemen and islanders who were present at Christmas Island from 1957 to 1962 later reported severe health problems, which they attributed to the nuclear bomb tests ? from cancers to organ failure. Whilst Peter?s health has appeared unaffected, his children and grandchildren have suffered from cancers.  

The UK is the only atomic test nation with no official recognition or compensation to nuclear test veterans.

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am honoured and delighted to welcome Peter Lambourne to our Cold War conversation?

The British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) is the Charity for UK Nuclear Veterans https://www.bntva.com/

There?s further information including videos and photos on this episode here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode224

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

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2022-02-26
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The Stasi Poetry Circle (223)

In 1982 the East German Ministry for State Security is hunting for creative new weapons in the war against the class enemy ? and their solution is stranger than fiction. Rather than guns, tanks, or bombs, the Stasi develop a programme to fight capitalism through rhyme and verse, winning the culture war through poetry ? and the result is the most bizarre book club in history.

I speak with Philip Oltermann the author of The Stasi Poetry Circle. Philip has used unseen archival material and exclusive interviews with surviving members to tell the incredible hidden story of a unique experiment: weaponising poetry for politics. 

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details. 

Do join our facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Philip Oltermann to our Cold War conversation?

Book giveaway and further information here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode223/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Radio GDR
If you are interested in East Germany we can highly recommend our friends over at Radio GDR.

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2022-02-19
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The start of the Cuban revolution & the launch of Apollo 8 (222)

The phrase ?history is human? was coined by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough. He says ?History is about life. It isn't just about dates and quotations from obscure treaties and the like; it's about people", which is exactly what Cold War Conversations is about.

I discovered this phrase listening to the History Daily podcast presented and narrated by Lindsay Graham. This podcast takes you back in time to explore a momentous moment that happened "on this day" in history using fully immersive, sound design, original music and a compelling narrative style. 

I really enjoy it and I'm sure you will too.   I am sharing two short Cold War episodes on this bonus episode. If think you'd enjoy  the History Daily podcast follow or subscribe by searching ?History Daily Podcast?. or click on this link https://pod.link/1591095413

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-02-16
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Cold War British Army fighting tactics in West Germany (221)

Frank Baldwin was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1979 and served for ten years, rising to the rank of Major. The first battlefield study he planned was in 1989 for HQ 4th Armoured Division. Since then, he has been a guide or historian for over 200 realities of war tours, battlefield studies and staff rides. 

Frank reels off lots of great anecdotes as he takes us through the initial years of the BAOR and the British Army?s plans for the defence of West Germany. 

He talks about the evolution of doctrines, on both the Soviet and NATO sides including their nuclear war-fighting techniques.

Frank also describes working with Warsaw Pact observers of NATO military exercises and the British view of the effectiveness of other NATO armies as well as the armies of the Warsaw Pact.

Maps and material to accompany this episode are here https://www.staffrideservices.com/?p=461

Now if you are enjoying these podcasts I?m asking for you to support my work with a small monthly donation. Your donations enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available for free to others. 

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Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Frank Baldwin to our Cold War conversation?

Battlefield tour website

Story of a BAOR Cold war tour

Maps and material on BAOR and the Cold war. Cold war background material

Frank Baldwin's blog The Observation Post

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-02-12
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The West Berlin village surrounded by the Berlin Wall (220)

When the Cold War split Berlin in half, between East and West, one neighbourhood was trapped in the middle and became a symbol of Cold War tensions. 

For more than twenty years, the hamlet of Steinstücken was caught in a tug-of-war between the Americans, the Soviets and the East Germans. 

Steinstücken officially belonged to the U.S. Occupation Sector of Berlin. But, it was located outside the city boundaries, completely surrounded by East German territory. No West Berlin-owned roads or trails connected it to the city. It was a de facto Western island in a Communist sea.

We speak with Cold War veteran Don Smith the author of Steinstuecken: A Little Pocket of Freedom,  a photo and fact-packed book which describes the challenges America faced in occupied Berlin and the personal stories of the citizens of Steinstücken who faced East German soldiers on a daily basis.

 Buy the book here and support the podcast

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Don?s web site http://steinpocket.com/

Now if you think there is a vast army of research assistants, audio engineers and producers putting together this podcast you?d be wrong. This podcast relies on your support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available to everyone for free. 

If you?d like to help to preserve Cold War history and enable me to continue to produce this podcast you can via one-off or monthly donations.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details. 

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Don Smith to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information including videos here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode220/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

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2022-02-05
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Tales of a West German football fan in the Soviet bloc (219)

You will remember Karl-Heinz from our episode  218 where he talked about being a signaller on the West German destroyer "Hamburg" in the late 70s. 

Today we follow his post navy life as a travelling supporter of football club HSV Hamburg where he followed them all over the Soviet bloc talks about watching them play Dynamo Berlin the Stasi side and drinking with Liverpool, Newcastle and Hamburg legend Kevin Keegan in a hotel bar in Tiblisi. 

And his Cold War encounters don?t stop there. While working in Chile he met General Pinochet, the military dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990  and living across the street from Margot Honecker the wife of East German leader Erich Honecker who was also an influential member of that country's Communist regime until 1989.

If you have listened this far, I know you are enjoying the podcasts so I?m asking for one-off or monthly donations to support my work and enable me to continue producing the podcast. If you become a monthly supporter via Patreon, you will get the sought after CWC coaster as a thank you, audio and other extras as well as basking in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Karl-Heinz to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information on this episode here including videos here . https://coldwarconversations.com/episode219/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

Support the show



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2022-01-29
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Serving on the West German destroyer "Hamburg" (218)

Karl-Heinz served in the Bundesmarine as a Signalman on the West German destroyer "Hamburg" in the late 70s. 

He talks of his training, his role and shares details of manoeuvres in the North Sea and Baltics involving East German and Soviet ships.

He also speaks about a cruise to West Africa where the sailors were briefed to stay away from any East German merchant marine sailors and not to engage with them in any form ? he and his mates didn?t keep to the rules?

If you have listened this far, I know you are enjoying the podcasts so I?m asking for one-off or monthly donations to support my work and enable me to continue producing the podcast. If you become a monthly supporter via Patreon, you will get the sought after CWC coaster as a thank you, audio and other extras as well as basking in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history.

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/

If a financial contribution is not your cup of tea, then you can still help us by leaving written reviews wherever you listen to us as well as sharing us on social media. It really helps us get new guests on the show.

I am delighted to welcome Karl-Heinz to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information on this episode in our show notes here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode218/

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
Visit Helion.co.uk here.  

Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/store/

Support the show



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2022-01-22
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The CIA director responsible for creating spy devices (217)

After service in the US Army during the Vietnam War Bob Wallace was recruited into the CIA. 

In the CIA his initial assignments were as a field case officer. He rose through the ranks at the agency and was Chief of Station in three locations where he directed the full range of CIA activities. 

In 1995 Bob became deputy director of the Office of Technical Service and in 1998 was appointed its director responsible for creating spy devices and capabilities necessary to conduct clandestine operations with safety and security. In other words, Bob was the "Q" of the CIA.

Buy Bob's book here
UK listeners https://amzn.to/3pBDrF4
US listeners  https://amzn.to/3qvX0xD


This podcast relies on listener support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available for free. You can support my work and help to preserve Cold War history via one-off or monthly donations

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/for for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Bob Wallace to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode217/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-01-15
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Vietnam War draftee to US Army Rangers (216)

Bob Wallace  joined  the US Army in 1968 as a reluctant conscript.  He describes the draft process, and his attempts to avoid conscription.  

After basic training, Bob is assigned to a long range reconnaissance unit and ambush unit in five or six man teams in the Mekong delta.

We hear of the reconnaissance and ambush tactics as well as some poignant memories of those that didn?t make it back.

This podcast relies on listener support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available for free. You can support my work and help to preserve Cold War history via one off or monthly donations

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/ for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

I am delighted to welcome Bob Wallace to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information on this episode here. https://coldwarconversations.com/episode216/

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-01-08
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Helping the Refuseniks (215)

Refusenik was an unofficial term for individuals?typically, but not exclusively, Soviet Jews?who were denied permission to emigrate, primarily to Israel, by the authorities of the Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc. The term refusenik is derived from the "refusal" handed down to a prospective emigrant from the Soviet authorities.

Eric Hochstein was a staff member for Senator Carl Levin of Michigan working on human rights. Human rights were a big issue for Senator Levin. 

Eric went as part of a standard commercial tour of the SU for two weeks from Sep 28th,1980, where he visited Moscow, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odessa, and Leningrad. Eric and his colleagues used this trip to peel off and visit various Refusenik families to bring them news, messages and supplies. 

Only protected by a US passport and a tourist visa Eric travelled by public transport under surveillance from the KGB carrying supplies for the families included Levi jeans which were better than money in the Soviet Union of the 1980s.  

I could really use your support to help me to capture and preserve these amazing stories of the Cold War. 

If you could make either a one-off or better still sign up to monthly donations to help me to find the time to produce and finance the project.

If you?d like to know more just go to cwc.com/donate

If you can?t wait for next week?s episode do visit our Facebook discussion group where guests and listeners continue the Cold War Conversation. Just search Cold War Conversations in Facebook.

Peter Ryan is your host today and I am delighted to welcome Eric Hochstein to our Cold War conversation?

There?s further information here.  https://coldwarconversations.com/episode215

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated ? goodbye.

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2022-01-01
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Eyewitness to the 1991 Soviet Coup with Brett Elliott (214)

Today?s episode is different. Brett Elliott died earlier this year and I was contacted by his ex-wife Polly who offered me a cassette tape. 

Polly and Brett had met in college and got to know each other in Russian Club at Oklahoma State. In the summer of 1991, they went to Moscow to pursue Polly?s goal of being a reporter in Russia and Brett?s goal of further studying Russia. 

They both worked together covering the Bush Gorbachev summit, with Polly as a reporter and Brett as an interpreter. Polly left Russia early, but Brett stayed a few weeks more and witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, August 19-21, 1991. During a rare phone call, Polly begged him to be careful, and he famously said she was worse than the coup leaders if she wanted to deny him getting out to witness history?

Polly's book is available on the links below
US Listeners https://amzn.to/3mEuPMa
UK listeners https://amzn.to/3CLuHjy

We have photos here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode214/

This podcast relies on listener support to enable me to continue to capture these incredible stories and make them available for free. You can support my work and help to preserve Cold War history via one-off or monthly donations

Just go to https://coldwarconversations.com/donate/  for more details.

Do join our Facebook discussion group where the cold war conversation continues between episodes. Just search Cold War Conversations on Facebook.

This episode is the audio from the cassette of Brett describing his experiences just two weeks after the coup. Being on cassette the sound quality is not great, but I am delighted and honoured to welcome Brett Elliott to our Cold War conversation?

Get a 15% discount off all of Helion's [email protected] titles between Saturday 26th-30th Nov 2022 using promo code COLDWAR15.
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2021-12-25
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