In this episode we welcome back Torsten Belger a former East German Army Officer.
Torsten was part of the 40th Anniversary Parade of the GDR which unknown to him at the time would be its last. He tells of the training for the parade and his meeting with Yasser Arafat, the Head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Torsten also shares how he heard about the unrest sweeping the country and his introduction to anti-riot training.
The episode ends with Torsten telling about his gradual realisation that the country he had known his whole life was gradually falling apart.
Before we start I’d like to thank all our Patreon who donate monthly to support the podcast further and get access to some exclusive extras. Monthly donations can be as small as $1 or a quid or a rouble and every donation helps keep us broadcasting and expanding the show.
Gillian Cox visited the GDR as a student in October 1989 just before the Wall came down.
In this episode you will hear her eyewitness of account of what she saw in East Germany on the cusp of it’s destruction.
Before we start the episode I wanted to thanks everyone who is supporting the podcast financially via Patreon and one off donations.
Now some of you may not realise that this podcast is a one man band and the podcast is financed out of my own pocket. When I started this in March 2018 I had no idea how popular this was going to be and have been astonished by the interest, your feedback and the generosity of my guests in allowing me to share their stories.
However, that popularity does increase the costs of putting the podcast out and if all our listeners just paid a dollar, a pound or a euro a month I’d be able to do far more. Now you may wonder what this Patreon is I keep banging on about. Well it makes it dead easy to support the podcast. Just visit Patreon.com/coldwarpod, chose your level of support and then I receive that amount monthly. In addition you will get access to previews, and other exclusive extras that don’t make it into the free version of the show. Just click here to help support the show
Now back to today’s episode. We start with Gillian describing her interest in the Cold War and how she ended up in the GDR.
Today we have a joint operation where myself and Shane Whaley from the GDR Radio Podcast and Spybrary podcast speak with Peter Millar. Peter is an award winning journalist who was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year for his reporting on the dying days of the Cold War.
Now, I’m sure you’d like some exclusive extras including previews of future episodes, as well as content that didn’t make the final cut.
I’d also like to thank our latest reviewers in Itunes JamieNYC, Neil Gussman and Mac East 2nd Floor Studios for their five star reviews. Please do add reviews In Itunes otherwise know as Apple Podcasts as it really helps to spread the word and get guests.
Back to today’s episode. Peter’s book “The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall” is described as “a witty, wry, elegiac account of his time as a Reuters and Sunday Times correspondent in Berlin throughout most of the 1980s’ ” by The Spectator and the Sunday Times described it as” part autobiography, part history primer and part Fleet Street gossip column … Millar cast aside the old chestnuts and set about reporting on the reality of life under communism. In bare Stalinist apartments, at hollow party events and over cool glasses of Volker the gravedigger-cum-hippie, the Stasi seductress “Helga the Honeypot”, Kurtl the accordion player whose father had been killed at Stalingrad, and the petty smuggler Manne who has been separated from his parents by the Wall …
Today we speak with Torsten Belger who trained as an Artillery Officer in the East German Army. Torsten also runs Germandotmilitaria which is a web site selling various items of East German militaria and civilian items too. It’s well worth a visit
Adam Spink – you know who you are. Adam Spink is our latest Patreon, part of an increasing band of loyal supporters of the podast who are getting exclusive extras including previews of future episodes, as well as content that didn’t make the final cut. Available for as little as a monthly donation of a euro, a dollar or a quid (larger amounts and other currencies are accepted too).
Just head over to coldwarconversations.com and click on the “Support the podcast” menu option. Thank you very much to those listeners who are already supporting us.
I’d also like to thank out latest reviewer in Itunes MacjacB for another five star review. Please do add reviews to your podcast providers site, it helps to spread the word.
Now back to today’s episode. Torsten tells us in fascinating detail about his schooling, and how he ended up on the officer training course.
Spoiler alert, this episode does end on a cliffhanger… we welcome Torsten Belger.
Today we’re talking to Antje Arnold, author of “The Girl Behind The Wall” which tells the story of a girl growing up in East Germany in the 1980s.
Now keep your finger away from the fast forward button for a minute. Hopefully some of you may noticed the improvement in sound quality on some of the recent episodes and this is directly resulting from the support we get from our Patreons where we have invested in some new microphones.
Now you might be thinking what is this Patreon. It’s an easy way for you to support the podcast with a monthly donation of as little as a euro, a dollar or a quid (larger amounts and other currencies are accepted too, but no Ost Marks). I’d like to thank personally our latest supporters via Patreon. These are Dom Thorrington, Jakob Rud Bernhardt and Nick Packham who are are helping us monthly for as little as a euro, a dollar or a quid (larger amounts and other currencies are accepted too, but no Ost Marks). If you’d like to help keep us broadcasting and get some extras then just click here
Back to today’s epsiode. Antje’s book is from a child’s point-of-view, rather than the typical espionage stories or documentaries that portray people trying to escape socialism. The book provides a very different insight into the holidays, vacation and everyday life of a family; stories that are often left out when describing East German life.
In our conversation you will not find historical data, but you’ll travel back in time to relive the childhood memories alongside the girl behind the wall.
Today we visit the Totally East: Life in East Germany Photography Exhibition.
Run-down façades, punks and ordinary workers: This exhibition shows the works of Harald Hauswald, who documented everyday life in the GDR.
Now I know this is the point you fast forward, but before we start I’d like to thank our latest financial supporters via Patreon. These are John Smaha, Jim Jordan, and Wayne Sherwood. They are really helping support the podcast by donating money and get access to some exclusive extras. These donations can be as small as $1 or a quid and every donation helps keep us broadcasting and expanding the show. Just click here
So back to today’s episode. I walk through the exhibition with Dr Richard Millington who you will remember from our episode on the 1953 East German Uprising. Richard has brought the exhibition to Chester and as we walk round we discuss the photos and have a wide ranging conversation about life in East Germany.
After our chat there’s some interviews with exhibition visitors who reminisce about the GDR and comment on the exhibition. We also chat with a couple of Cold War Conversations Podcast listeners who came along too.
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.
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.
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.
Today we speak again with Eileen Ford-Price who was an English teacher in East Berlin in the GDR in the 1980s.
Before we start I’d also like to thank out latest reviewer in Itunes Andrew Cairnes for his five star review. Please do add reviews to your podcast providers site, it helps to spread the word.
Now back to today’s episode. Eileen shares some great details with us of working in East Berlin, with some surprising details. Eileen also generously reveals details about the contents of her Stasi file.
It’s a fascinating story that includes Eileen’s escape from the Volkspolizei following a Billy Bragg gig in East Berlin. We welcome again Eileen Ford-Price.
Today we speak with Eileen Ford-Price who was British student in the GDR in the 1980s in Rostock.
Before we start I’d like to thank all our Patreons who donate monthly to support the podcast further and get access to some exclusive extras. Monthly donations can be as small as $1 or a quid and every donation helps keep us broadcasting and expanding the show. Just click here
Now back to today’s episode. Eileen shares some great details with us including her reasons for being a student in the GDR. Her first journey across the border and what life was like in 1980s Rostock as a foreign student.
It’s a fascinating story that includes the Stasi’s attempt to recruit her as an informer on her fellow students.
We welcome Eileen Ford-Price
Images provided By Eileen of her time in Rostock
A Visit to Rostock – DDR TV programme teaching english.
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.