Gunfire in the Woods: A foiled escape and imprisonment in East Germany

This is part two of Henrik’s story. You can hear the first part in episode 307. It’s the late 1980s and Henrik and his friends plan to escape from East Germany via Czechoslovakia. Henrik provides a very vivid account of their discovery by Czechoslovak border guards in a forest near the Austrian border. He … Read more

A KGB trained spy’s desperate escape from Cold War South Africa

  Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google PodcastsBecome a Patron! South Africa in the 1980s is a brutal, racist Apartheid regime. Those who oppose it risk their lives. Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s Sue Dobson is moving easily through … Read more

Volker – The Berlin Wall Escape Helper

  It’s 1966 in Berlin and the city has now been divided for 5 years by an almost impenetrable wall erected by the communist German Democratic Republic. West German student Volker Heinz joins a group looking for ways to help would-be fugitives escape from East to West. Their search ends at Checkpoint Charlie, the most … 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

An aircraft hijack to escape from the Soviet Union

  Back in the 1970s, migrating from the Soviet Union was an unattainable dream for many, particularly Jews wanting to leave for Israel. To leave the Soviet Union for another country, it was necessary to obtain exit visas — formal permission from the authorities to migrate. In practice, many people found it impossible to get. … Read more

Escaping from Cold War Romania

  Zsolt Akos Pall was 17 when he decided to flee Cold War Romania for a better life in the West.   It’s a heart-warming story of the generosity of strangers. Young Zsolt finds compassionate border guards, gets lost in Vienna and has incredible luck wherever he turns as he negotiates the iron curtain as … 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

Korean war veteran & prisoner of war

70 years ago today would have been the middle of a desperate battle by outnumbered British forces at the battle of the Imjin River in Korea. The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, and one of the few times when the Cold War turned hot. There were approximately 3 … Read more

A freedom fighter in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Charlie was 17 in 1956. A trip home from work by tram ended up with him being thrust into the heart of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a nationwide revolution against the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. I’m in conversation with Charlie and his daughter … Read more