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.
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.
“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.
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. “
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.
And finally, risking the wrath of the police, a murky photo of our Morris Minor, taken from the Dormobile as we were being arrested and take to the local cop show for crimes against the Five Year Plan (diverting without permission up into Chechnya!). pic.twitter.com/RhhNrsvKa1
Red Square, with its huge queue to see Lenin. I didn't go and check him out, even though, as in other such places, as soon as people realised were were foreigners, you got ushered to the front of the queue. pic.twitter.com/gNfSXGnCa2