34 – Samy – The Life of a West Berliner

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Welcome to Episode 34 of Cold War Conversations – I do hope you are enjoying the content.

Please leave reviews on itunes, or alternative podcast platforms and share us on social media. It helps raise the profile and helps us get new guests.

Today ee talk with Samy who as a native West Berliner describes growing up in the city during the 1970s and 80s.

He describes in detail the difference between West Berlin and West Germany, including its position as a “special political entity”, how the death penalty in West Berlin was only abolished in 1989 and how as a child he was obsessed with Spy movies, spy books, and Cold War activities.

Before we go further I’d like to thank all our Patreons who donate monthly to support the podcast further and get access to some exclusive extras. Luke Wooller is our latest Patreaon who pay as little as a $1 or a £1 a month to help keep us broadcasting and expanding the show.

Just click here.

Ok so back to today’s episode – Samy also talks about the battle between the East and West German Sandmännchen resulting in victory for the East.

Samy joined the Red Cross post Cold War but discovered some interesting remnants of preparedness in case of another Berlin blockade including some top secret locations.

I’m sure you will enjoy his account and I am delighted to welcome Samy to Cold War Conversations.

Samy’s recommended Films for a taste of West & East Berlin.



West Music:
East Music:




In 1988, a group of young people occupy the Lenné Triangle, a plot of land that lies right by the Wall, in an attempt to stop a motorway being built there. Although the site is in West Berlin, it is actually the property of East Berlin. The occupation makes a tourist attraction of what was once just a wasteland.

Not long after the young people arrive, the Lenné Triangle is handed back to the West and several hundred police officers begin clearing the site. They fire teargas and use water cannons, and the squatters retaliate by throwing paving stones. A lot of the protestors manage to flee across the Wall to East Berlin, where they are given breakfast and later allowed to take the U-Bahn back to the West.




21 – BRIXMIS, British defence of Berlin, and Rudolf Hess

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Welcome to episode 21 of Cold War Conversations

Today we’re talking to Nigel Dunkley MBE a former Royal Scots Dragoon Guard, performed intelligence gathering duties in the former East Germany with BRIXMIS during the Cold War.

BRIXMIS ( British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany) was an intelligence organisation worked throughout the Cold War years from 1946 to 1990 gathering intelligence in the former Soviet Occupation Zone of East Germany on the threat posed to the West and NATO by the 20 Soviet and 6 East German Army Divisions and their Air Forces deployed there.

In the 1980s Nigel  also interpreted for Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess in Spandau Prison, Berlin and provided some fascinating insight into character of Hitlet’s Deputy Fuhrer.

Later in his military career he was awarded the MBE and Bronze Star Medal for his services with the US 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Desert Storm. Nigel was also Chief of Staff at the Royal Armoured Corp Centre at Bovington, ending his army career as Defence Attache at the British Embassy in Berlin.

I am delighted to welcome Nigel Dunkley MBE to Cold War Conversations.

Join the discussion on facebook here.



Details on BRIXMIS operations in the GDR

US account of US Military Liaison Unit operations

Rudolf Hess Flight to the UK

Article on Rudolf Hess & Spandau Prison

Trip Advisor reviews of Nigel’s tours

Berlin Audio tour app Nigel has worked on



Real footage of a BRIXMIS tour of the GDR

Trailer of film “Keep the Cold War Cold” covering the British, French and US Liaison missions

Secret Front – Cold War Documentary featuring Nigel (in German)

Secret Front – episode 2

Secret Front Episode 3

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

16 – How I nearly started World War 3

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Livedrop AlbumBefore we start I’d like to say how humbled I am by the level of interest in the podcast and the kind comments from our many subscribers. If you’d like to support us further and get some extras then head over to Patreon. There’s also links on the home page of the website at www.coldwarconversations.com.

Back to the business in hand, today we’re talking to Mark Valley, host of the Livedrop espionage podcast.

Mark served with the US army as a combat engineer in West Germany and later with the Berlin Brigade.

His story gives you an eyewitness account of service in both locations, but also gives some insight into the training, tactics and dilemmas of service in the army.

I am delighted and honoured to welcome Mark Valley.


Cold war film


Cold War Music

Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

Lou Reed – Dirty Boulevard

Cold War Personalities to Meet

David Bowie

Wild Bill Donovan

Hedy Lamar

James Hall III


The Stasi: Myth & Reality

Traitors Among Us

Comrade Rockstar – the search for Dean Reed

15 – Sabine – An East German Childhood

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Welcome to Episode 15 of Cold War Conversations.

Today we speak to Sabine who was 13 when the Wall opened.

We hear about her childhood in East Germany and gain great insight into life at the time, the pressures on her family and her first steps into West Berlin.

I found Sabine’s story very personal and moving detailing her experiences as her country disappeared almost overnight casting her family into an uncertain future as the safety net they were used to disappeared with it.

I am delighted to welcome Sabine to Cold War Conversations.

Spuk unterm Riesenrad
“I loved this series because I was obsessed with ghosts and ghost rides at fairs. Probably stems from that time my Dad took me to a Christmas market, to a Haunted House, and scarred me for life by handing me over to a man dressed as a skeleton for a laugh.
After watching that, I desperately wanted to go to that castle in the Harz mountains, Burg Falkenstein.
Spuk im Hochhaus: 
I remember a friend of mine from school and I singing the theme song a lot and doing impersonations, because we were geeks like that.
There is also a series similar called Spuk von Draussen, which is proper creepy!”
They were all based on books by C.U. Wiesner which were hard to get, but my mother managed to get a copy for me – my pride and joy.
A documentary on exporting East German goods to the West:
Then this one struck me, although I am always wary about documentaries because they tend to be hyperbolic and sensationalist. Environmental protection wasn’t big in the GDR, even though it was preached to children. We had recycling programmes and were taught to respect and protect nature. At the same time, in the “Chemical Triangle” they left terrible environmental destruction. I remember being on a train going through, aptly named, Bitterfeld, and the chemical reek from outside was overpowering. There was pink and green foam on the rivers. Our rivers were massively polluted.
This is a bit of a funny one: There was an area in East Germany we called The Valley of the Clueless, which was down in the Dresden area. Reception was so bad that many of them would not be able to receive West German broadcasting, and I’m still convinced that is why so many of our statesmen had Saxon accents – because that area was easiest to “bring in line” because there were less Western influences. “

13 – The Last Days of Checkpoint Charlie

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Welcome to Episode 13 of Cold War Conversations.

Now most of you will know my good friend Shane Whaley over at the highly recommended Spybrary podcast who we interviewed in episode 4.

Shane and I have always been intrigued by a video posted on Youtube filmed in the 1980s by a then young US army soldier documenting his first days in Berlin for his family back at home.

Now I never dreamed that I would find, let alone talk to that soldier, but through the magic of the internet we got in contact and Michael Rafferty has agreed to give his first interview in 24 years to Cold War Conversations.

His story spans the last days of Checkpoint Charlie, from when the border was the heavily fortified barrier familiar to us from those spy films, to the opening of the wall and the unification of Germany.

I am delighted and honoured to welcome Michael Rafferty.

** Items purchased from the Amazon links will pay Cold War Conversations a small commission to help keep the podcast on the air **


Michael Rafferty & Kenneth “Casey” Beymer’s Video of his first days in Berlin filmed for his family back in the US

Favourite Cold War Film

Bridge of Spies

Cold War Soundtrack

Winds of Change – The Scorpions

Looking for Freedom – David Hasselhof

Who would you like to have a Cold War Conversation with?

Willi Brandt

Frank Howley – First Us Army Berlin Commander


General Lucius Clay

Book Recommendations

The Wall – The Peoples Story by Christopher Hilton

Berlin Command by Frank Howley

Discussion Group.

The Facebook discussion group featuring Michael’s photos

Episode 12 – “My Stasi file is as thick as a phone book”

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Album Mark Reeder1

Welcome to Episode 12 of Cold War Conversations.

Today’s guest is someone I’ve been trying to speak to for some time as his story is a particularly fascinating one.

We’re chatting with Mark Reeder a musician and music producer who has been involved in the Berlin and international music scene since 1978, starting as Factory Records German representative from 1978-1983.

Through contacts in the GDR he put on several secret punk gigs behind the Iron Curtain and his Stasi file is described as  “as thick as a phone book”. He is however, denied access to the full file as it remains in the possession of the German Federal Intelligence Service…

He is also the founder and owner of the first East German electronic dance music label Masterminded For Success “MFS” which he started in 1990, after being the only and last Westerner to make an album  in communist East Germany which was “Torture” by Die Vision in 1989.

His is a very interesting and unusual account with some great stories including  how he smuggled a Volksarmee uniform across the Berlin Wall and the unusual currency needed to get your phone fixed.

We join our conversation as Mark describes how he took the popular UK TV show “The Tube” around Berlin.

** Items purchased from the Amazon links will pay Cold War Conversations a small commission to help keep the podcast on the air **


B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989) – Official Trailer


Once Upon a Time in the East.


Mark’s latest album Mauerstadt


Jessica – the East German band Mark discovered appearing on British TV

Mark’s band Shark Vegas almost causing an international incident on Glienicke Bridge

Mark’s film about life & music in 1980s West Berlin – B Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989) – Official Trailer

Punk, priest, Stasi, spy: Meet the man who smuggled punk into East Berlin – Article about Mark Reeder

2014 Video interview with Mark

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 1 of 3

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 2 of 3

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 3 of 3

Episode 5 Part 2 of – Espionage, East Germany and Berlin with Spybrary host Shane Whaley

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Welcome to episode 5 which is part 2 of our Cold War Conversations with Shane Whaley of Spybrary . 

We talked for some time ,so I have split this interview into two parts.

I hope you find this second half as interesting as I did – settle in for more wide ranging and hopefully interesting conversation with my good friend Shane Whaley.

If you liked what you have heard, please leave a review at Itunes or your preferred podcast provider – it really helps to spread the word.

And don’t forget to join the discussion at our facebook page, and you can also follow us on twitter @coldwarpod

Thank you for listening

Here are some links to the subjects we talked about.

( A small affiliate fee from book links helps pay for Podcast hosting charges)

Behind the Berlin Wall book 

Accidental announcement that DDR border will open

Bornholmer Strasse Checkpoint opening film (in German)

George Blake escape

Deutschland 83 Soundtrack 

Bruckner 9th Symphony 

Operation Rose – the plan to build the Berlin Wall  

John Peet book – The Long Engagement

Richard Nixon

The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961 – 9 November 1989 book by Frederick Taylor

Stasiland – book

Born in the GDR – book 

The File: A Personal History – book

Man Without a Face: The Autobiography of Communism’s Greatest Spymaster

Letters Over The Wall: Life in Communist East Germany

The GDR (RLE: German Politics): Moscow’s German Ally (Routledge Library Editions: German Politics)

The GDR (RLE: German Politics): Moscow’s German Ally (Routledge Library Editions: German Politics)

The Stasi Files: East Germany’s Secret Operations Against Britain

The Life of Others – movie trailer

Goodbye Lenin – movie trailer

Charlie Muffin film – complete 

Unser Berlin – DDR Propagandafilm über Ost-Berlin

The incredible microlight flying rescue over the Berlin Wall, 1989 at 2mins 30 secs

Teaching English GDR style 

The Singing Ringing Tree – Scary kids GDR kids programme

Singing, Ringing Tree spoof by The Fast Show

Episode 4 (Part 1) – Espionage, East Germany and Berlin with Spybrary host Shane Whaley

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Welcome to episode 4 (part 1) of Cold War Conversations. Today we’re talking about Cold War espionage, East Germany and Berlin with shanespybrary-e1510077512760Spybrary host, Shane Whaley.

Shane runs the Spybrary podcast at spybrary.com. Their goal is to encourage people to read new spy novels, revisit an old espionage classic and discuss them with our community of like minded spy fans. It’s great  fun if you like spy books I highly recommend his podcast.

We could have gone on for hours and indeed we did, so I have split this interview into two parts.

Settle in for a wide ranging and hopefully interesting conversation with my good friend Shane Whaley.

If you liked what you have heard, please leave a review at Itunes or your preferred podcast provider – it really helps to spread the word.

And don’t forget to join the discussion at our facebook page, and you can also follow us on twitter @coldwarpod

Thank you for listening

Here are some links to the subjects we talked about

Cambridge Spies

Markus Wolf

Günter Guillaume Stasi Spy

Able Archer NATO exercise

Gaby Gast Stasi Spy

Rainer Rupp Stasi Spy

Erich Honecker

Robert Maxwell Publisher of Erich Honecker’s biography

Radio Berlin International

John Peet and the Democratic German Report

Drone fly around of Ernst Thälmann Statue

Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark – featuring those amazing floodlights

Memorial to the Socialists The final resting place of many of Germany’s most famous communists

Berlin Wall Monument Bernauer Strasse

Stasi Museum ** Please note they do English language tours now contrary to what we say on the podcast**

Stasi Prison Hohenschönhausen

Episode 2 – Berlin during the Cold War and Signals Intelligence

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Cold War Conversations where we start with a fascinating eyewitness account of Berlin during the Cold War.

Michael K Ferris  lived in Berlin as a child of US Airforce personnel in the 1960s and 70s and then subsequently joined the US Airforce himself and worked in Signals Intelligence during the 1980s.

In a wide ranging chat, we talked about life for American families and their kids in Berlin during the Cold War and also about the challenges of signals intelligence in the heart of East Germany at tail end of the Cold War. We also talked about the Stasi spy in Michael’s unit, Kennedy’s visit to Berlin, Baader Meinhof attacks on US Forces, Soxmis and much more.

Our guest’s unit was described by the Commander in Chief US Airforce Europe as “his eyes and ears to the East.”

We welcome Michael K Ferris

Links to videos we talked about:

Counterpoint TV Series set at Templehof Airfield


Documentary on Stasi Spy Jeffrey Carney


Video of the remains of Marienfelde Monitoring Post


The Same Sky – TV Series


Berlin Enclaves



The Legend of Rita (fictional drama film of Baader Meinhof terrorist crossing to the GDR)


Reagan at Checkpoint Charlie 1982


Berlin Historical Maps


Game Set and Match



Talking Heads




Amazon UK  – Looking Down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage over East Germany and Berlin, 1945-1990

Amazon US


(small affiliate fee from these book links helps pay for Podcast hosting charges)

Facebook discussion group-

Facebook Group




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