The Gouzenko Affair – the start of the Cold War

Igor Gouzenko exposed Soviet intelligence’s efforts to steal nuclear secrets as well as the technique of planting sleeper agents. The “Gouzenko Affair” is often credited as a triggering event of the Cold War,  with historian Jack Granatstein stating it was “the beginning of the Cold War for public opinion” and journalist Robert Fulford writing he … Read more

The forgotten cosmonaut

This week it’s the 60th anniversary of the flight of Gherman Titov on Vostok 2. The forgotten 2nd cosmonaut overshadowed by the exploits of his friend Yuri Gagarin. Titov’s 25.3 hours and 17 orbits flight was much more ambitious than Gagarin’s and more dangerous. It was also a very political flight, intending to distract the … Read more

A Czechoslovak family’s escape to Austria

We continue Drea Hahn’s story with her family’s escape to Austria and the realities of being a refugee. In 1986, under the pretext of a “ski trip” to Yugoslavia Drea’s family escaped to Austria. We hear about the sadness of being unable to tell anyone they were leaving and how her relatives were summoned to … Read more

Ethel Rosenberg

  Ethel Rosenberg is a controversial figure with polarising views varying from an innocent mother caught up in Cold War hysteria to a willing and ruthless accomplice to her husband’s Cold War espionage betraying secrets to the Soviets. Anne Sebba’s new book “Ethel Rosenberg – A Cold War tragedy” (“An American tragedy” in the US) … Read more

Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World

    In 1945 the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin.  For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals – British, American and Soviet – fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world. Checkmate in Berlin tells this exhilarating, high-stakes tale of grit, skullduggery, … Read more

Drea – A Czechoslovak childhood

Drea Hahn was born in Czechoslovakia in 1980 in Teplice. Her mother was a secretary and her father was an engineer but refused to join the communist party and this was a source of tension in Drea’s family. She was partly raised by her grandparents and her grandmother shared stories about growing up in “the … Read more

Codename Hero – Soviet double agent Oleg Penkovsky

  In August 1960, a Soviet colonel called Oleg Penkovsky contacted the West to offer to work as a ‘soldier warrior for the free world.  MI6 and the CIA ran Penkovsky jointly, in an operation that ran through the showdown over Berlin and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He provided crucial intelligence, including photographs of rocket … Read more

Confrontation at the Stößensee

In April 1966, a state-of-the-art Soviet aircraft, the Yak-28P crashed into the British Sector of West Berlin. This intelligence gift to the Allied forces resulted in a tense confrontation with the Soviet forces We speak with historian Bernd von Kostka of the Allied Museum in Berlin-Dahlem who has researched this story for his upcoming book Capital … Read more

Yuri Gagarin – the first human in space

9.07 a.m., April 12, 1961. A top-secret rocket site in the USSR. A young Russian sits inside a tiny capsule on top of the Soviet Union’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile – originally designed to carry a nuclear warhead – and blasts into the skies. His name is Yuri Gagarin. And he is about to … Read more