Life in the forbidden zone at the East/West German border

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

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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 ghost 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.

We also hear more of her life in her village, including strange sports activities and Claudia’s experience of being 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, check out the book giveaway below.

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

All photos are © Claudia Bierschenk.

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

Drone footage of Ershausen, Claudia’s home village.

Drone footage of the Eichsfeld Border Museum


Tangerine Press have kindly provided 3 copies of Never Mind, Comrade, to give away!

To be in with a chance to win a free copy of the book you will need to do at least one of the following before 2300 BST 28th Aug 2022:

  • Twitter – Follow us and retweet our pinned book giveaway tweet.  
  • Facebook Page – Follow us and share our pinned episode post using the hashtags #nevermindcomrade and #coldwarconvo 
  • Instagram – Follow us on Instagram , like our episode post and tag at least two friends in the comments. Make sure you use  the hashtags #nevermindcomrade and #coldwarconversations
  • Mailing List – Join our mailing list and email us at ian “at” to let me know you want to be entered.

** Winners will be selected randomly w/c 30th Aug 2022. If you are a winner You will be notified directly if you have won. Please note if you are a winner your details will be passed to the publisher to facilitate book delivery. Delivery of the book may be subject to small customs fees. Good luck!

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