20 – Life as a East German teenager

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Album Anke

Welcome to episode 20  of Cold War Conversations.

Today we’re talking to Anke Holst was born in the GDR during the 1970s in Rostock.

Anke has returned to Rostock after many years abroad and now provides tours of GDR sites in Rostock.

Our conversation highlights how different life was in the provinces of the GDR as opposed to Berlin.

In a wide ranging, frank and honest discussion we talk about her family life with her mother who was a stalwart Party member, Anke’s school class role as “Agitator”, her training in Marxist-Leninism,  and her weapons training  in the Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation in Rostock.

Anke’s Rostock Tours facebook page 

Video

A Visit to Rostock – english language teaching film.

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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. “

Episode 10 – 1960s School Road Trip across the Soviet Union

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USSR School trip album

Welcome to Episode 10 of Cold War Conversations.

Today we’re moving away from the GDR and Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union.

Jeremy Poynton was a 16 year old school boy in 1968 when he embarked on a memorable trip by road from Leningrad to Odessa.

He vividly describes a Soviet Union still struggling with poverty and a diverse range of peoples from city dwellers to remote Chechen villagers.

It’s a unique story as Jeremy details his experiences and the sights of a 1960s Soviet Union just as the Prague Spring was being suppressed

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did, we welcome Jeremy Poynton.

Trip Photos

More photos here on this link

Films

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

The Manchurian Candidate

Bridge of Spies

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy BBC version

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb – Trailer

Battleship Potemkin – The Odessa steps sequence

Music

Beatles

Rolling Stones

Jefferson Airplane

Grateful Dead

If you could invite three personalities from the cold war period to have a few pints with, who would they be?

Alexander Kerensky  – Leader of the Provisional Government after the Russian Revolution

Mikhail Gorbachev – Last leader of the Soviet Union

Ronald Reagan – President of the United States