Cold War, Warm Hearts – Hitchhiking behind the 1960s Iron Curtain

  In 1966 most of Bridget’s friends, in their early twenties, were settling down with jobs and/or husbands… She, on the other hand, set off alone to travel across Poland relying on the kindness of strangers.  Fascinated by what she experienced she continued to wander the highways and byways of, Hungary Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and … Read more

Across the Iron Curtain in a yellow MG Midget sports car

  Andrew McNeile decided to travel through Eastern Europe in a yellow MG Midget Sports car, a ​car ​that’s ​going ​to ​stand ​out ​no ​matter ​where you are! He recalls his adventures travelling through East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia He talks about the warmth and friendliness of people, challenges with petrol quality, and … Read more

The Cold war ice hockey team that fought the Soviets for the soul of its nation

I speak with author Ethan Scheiner whose book “Freedom to Win” describes the gripping story of a group of small-town young men who would lead their underdog hockey team from Czechoslovakia against the Soviet Union, the juggernaut in their sport. In 1968 Czechoslovakia is experiencing the Prague Spring, an attempt to moderate and soften communism. However, … Read more

Discovering your Cold War Czechoslovak Secret Police file

Mark Baker was featured in episode 9 where he told us about working in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s as a journalist for a small publishing company called Business International (BI). He was the company’s Czechoslovakia expert and with his Czech minder Arnold he travelled to Prague and other cities to report on significant economic and political developments. … Read more

A Cold War escape from Czechoslovakia

We return to Dirk’s story from episode 278 with a move to East Berlin following his mother’s divorce from his father. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google PodcastsBecome a Patron! Dirk finds school life more relaxed where pupils are allowed to wear Western clothing and to speak more openly, even questioning their teachers about the … Read more

Betrayed by comrades

Liz Kohn has been researching Alice Glasnerová, who was imprisoned as part of the early Cold War Czechoslovak show trials known as the Slánský trials. These were among the most notorious show trials of the 20th century, with the prosecution and sentencing to death of Rudolf Slánský, general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist party, and … Read more

Cold War number stations

You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether.  These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries. Number stations were used … 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

Drea – A Cold War 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