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

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

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

An evening with Kim Philby

  Ben Brown is the writer of A Splinter of Ice, a play that portrays the meeting in Moscow in 1987 of one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, Graham Greene and his old MI6 boss, Kim Philby, one of Britain’s most notorious spies… and a traitor.  Graham Greene never divulged any details of … Read more