21 – BRIXMIS, British defence of Berlin, and Rudolf Hess

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Welcome to episode 21 of Cold War Conversations

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.

Join the discussion on facebook here.

Links

http://www.brixmis.co.uk/

Details on BRIXMIS operations in the GDR

US account of US Military Liaison Unit operations

Rudolf Hess Flight to the UK

Article on Rudolf Hess & Spandau Prison

Trip Advisor reviews of Nigel’s tours

Berlin Audio tour app Nigel has worked on

Books

Video

Real footage of a BRIXMIS tour of the GDR

Trailer of film “Keep the Cold War Cold” covering the British, French and US Liaison missions

Secret Front – Cold War Documentary featuring Nigel (in German)

Secret Front – episode 2

Secret Front Episode 3

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

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.

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

17 – Eyewitness to the Prague Spring

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Album Jan Culik

Welcome to episode 17 of Cold War Conversations

In 1968 today’s guest was 15 year old at the same school in Prague as Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček’s son.

Jan Čulík provides a valuable eyewitness account of the heady days of the Prague Spring and the subsequent Warsaw Pact invasion. He provides some insightful views that I found challenged my understanding of the Prague Spring.

He details the situation in Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s, the Prague Spring, his experiences as the reformers were suppressed to the late 1970s and his arrest by the STB, the Czech secret police.

The interview starts as we talk about the level of censorship in Czechoslovakia before the Prague Spring.

Two part Radio Prague Interview with Jan

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/one-on-one/jan-culik-part-one

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/one-on-one/jan-culik-part-two

 Books

The Logic of Normalization

Contemporary Film of the Prague Spring

Pathe news report on the Prague Spring

Josef Koudelka’s photos of -Prague’68

Rare colour film of 1968 Warsaw Pact Invasion

Prague 1968 Seven Days To Remember

Unused Pathe news footage

Contemporary footage of the Warsaw Pact invasion

Czechoslovakia Vs Soviet Union 1969 Ice Hockey Match

Documentary Films

Documentary in english on the Prague Spring

Documentary on the End of the Prague Spring

Extra Content

Available on our Patreon page here

16 – How I nearly started World War 3

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Livedrop AlbumBefore we start I’d like to say how humbled I am by the level of interest in the podcast and the kind comments from our many subscribers. If you’d like to support us further and get some extras then head over to Patreon. There’s also links on the home page of the website at www.coldwarconversations.com.

Back to the business in hand, today we’re talking to Mark Valley, host of the Livedrop espionage podcast.

Mark served with the US army as a combat engineer in West Germany and later with the Berlin Brigade.

His story gives you an eyewitness account of service in both locations, but also gives some insight into the training, tactics and dilemmas of service in the army.

I am delighted and honoured to welcome Mark Valley.

Patreon

Cold war film

Counterpoint

Cold War Music

Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

Lou Reed – Dirty Boulevard

Cold War Personalities to Meet

David Bowie

Wild Bill Donovan

Hedy Lamar

James Hall III

Books

The Stasi: Myth & Reality

Traitors Among Us

Comrade Rockstar – the search for Dean Reed

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. “

13 – The Last Days of Checkpoint Charlie

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Welcome to Episode 13 of Cold War Conversations.

Now most of you will know my good friend Shane Whaley over at the highly recommended Spybrary podcast who we interviewed in episode 4.

Shane and I have always been intrigued by a video posted on Youtube filmed in the 1980s by a then young US army soldier documenting his first days in Berlin for his family back at home.

Now I never dreamed that I would find, let alone talk to that soldier, but through the magic of the internet we got in contact and Michael Rafferty has agreed to give his first interview in 24 years to Cold War Conversations.

His story spans the last days of Checkpoint Charlie, from when the border was the heavily fortified barrier familiar to us from those spy films, to the opening of the wall and the unification of Germany.

I am delighted and honoured to welcome Michael Rafferty.

** Items purchased from the Amazon links will pay Cold War Conversations a small commission to help keep the podcast on the air **

Video

Michael Rafferty & Kenneth “Casey” Beymer’s Video of his first days in Berlin filmed for his family back in the US

Favourite Cold War Film

Bridge of Spies

Cold War Soundtrack

Winds of Change – The Scorpions

Looking for Freedom – David Hasselhof

Who would you like to have a Cold War Conversation with?

Willi Brandt

Frank Howley – First Us Army Berlin Commander

JFK

General Lucius Clay

Book Recommendations

The Wall – The Peoples Story by Christopher Hilton

Berlin Command by Frank Howley

Discussion Group.

The Facebook discussion group featuring Michael’s photos

Episode 12 – “My Stasi file is as thick as a phone book”

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Album Mark Reeder1

Welcome to Episode 12 of Cold War Conversations.

Today’s guest is someone I’ve been trying to speak to for some time as his story is a particularly fascinating one.

We’re chatting with Mark Reeder a musician and music producer who has been involved in the Berlin and international music scene since 1978, starting as Factory Records German representative from 1978-1983.

Through contacts in the GDR he put on several secret punk gigs behind the Iron Curtain and his Stasi file is described as  “as thick as a phone book”. He is however, denied access to the full file as it remains in the possession of the German Federal Intelligence Service…

He is also the founder and owner of the first East German electronic dance music label Masterminded For Success “MFS” which he started in 1990, after being the only and last Westerner to make an album  in communist East Germany which was “Torture” by Die Vision in 1989.

His is a very interesting and unusual account with some great stories including  how he smuggled a Volksarmee uniform across the Berlin Wall and the unusual currency needed to get your phone fixed.

We join our conversation as Mark describes how he took the popular UK TV show “The Tube” around Berlin.

** Items purchased from the Amazon links will pay Cold War Conversations a small commission to help keep the podcast on the air **

Film

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989) – Official Trailer

Books

Once Upon a Time in the East.

Music

Mark’s latest album Mauerstadt

Videos

Jessica – the East German band Mark discovered appearing on British TV

Mark’s band Shark Vegas almost causing an international incident on Glienicke Bridge

Mark’s film about life & music in 1980s West Berlin – B Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989) – Official Trailer

Punk, priest, Stasi, spy: Meet the man who smuggled punk into East Berlin – Article about Mark Reeder

2014 Video interview with Mark

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 1 of 3

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 2 of 3

1994  video interview with Mark – Part 3 of 3

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

 

Episode 9 – Cloak & Dagger in Prague

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Arno albumWelcome to Episode 9 of Cold War Conversations.

Mark Baker is an independent journalist and travel writer who’s lived in Central Europe for more than two decades.

I heartily recommend his travel website

www.markbakerprague.com which is an eclectic mix of stories about his adopted hometown of Prague and stories from when Central Europe was the “Eastern bloc” and he was a full-time journalist trying his best to cover it.

Mark tells an intriguing and compelling story and I urge you to listen right to the end. I hope you enjoy our chat and I welcome Mark Baker. (the drawing is by Stewart K Moore and is a representation of Mark’s Czechoslovak fixer during the 1980s)

Mark’s  blog is www.markbakerprague.com but https://markbakerprague.com/category/tales-from-the-past/ will take readers directly to the stories about the 1980s.

Books

William Crisp – The ex Vietnam Vet who was Mark’s boss in Vienna and wrote spy stories

Under a Cruel Sky – Mark’s highly recommendable book from an author who survived Auschwitz and ended up marrying a Communist who was executed in the show trials.

Ivan Klima’s author page on Amazon:

Video

Costa Gavras drama film about the Slansky trial “The Confession”

The HBO mini-series on Jan Palach

Youtube Czechoslovak pop songs from the 1960s and ‘70s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7ZmhEGFHj8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgt7AxlC988

Milada –  drama film of Milada Horáková, democratic pre-WW2 Czech politician first arrested and tried by the Nazis during the War and then the post-war Communist government for her refusal to cease her opposition activity and leave the country.

Episode 2 – Berlin during the Cold War and Signals Intelligence

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Cold War Conversations where we start with a fascinating eyewitness account of Berlin during the Cold War.

Michael K Ferris  lived in Berlin as a child of US Airforce personnel in the 1960s and 70s and then subsequently joined the US Airforce himself and worked in Signals Intelligence during the 1980s.

In a wide ranging chat, we talked about life for American families and their kids in Berlin during the Cold War and also about the challenges of signals intelligence in the heart of East Germany at tail end of the Cold War. We also talked about the Stasi spy in Michael’s unit, Kennedy’s visit to Berlin, Baader Meinhof attacks on US Forces, Soxmis and much more.

Our guest’s unit was described by the Commander in Chief US Airforce Europe as “his eyes and ears to the East.”

We welcome Michael K Ferris

Links to videos we talked about:

Counterpoint TV Series set at Templehof Airfield

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__PftXbeNWI

Documentary on Stasi Spy Jeffrey Carney

https://www.facebook.com/kevin.s.sweeney/videos/10208878757341371/

Video of the remains of Marienfelde Monitoring Post

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=818IBwSsM5Y

The Same Sky – TV Series

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtGSu-DJtPU

Berlin Enclaves

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bqtY2PtEyU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8zZ6kx2EbE

The Legend of Rita (fictional drama film of Baader Meinhof terrorist crossing to the GDR)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkNk6Uzuedo

Reagan at Checkpoint Charlie 1982

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr-4QaBabDw

Berlin Historical Maps

http://histomapberlin.de/histomap/en/index.html

Game Set and Match

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3cDtZ4zSsw

Music

Talking Heads

https://youtu.be/JccW-mLdNe0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVHNwBbkSj4

Books

Amazon UK  – Looking Down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage over East Germany and Berlin, 1945-1990

Amazon US

https://amzn.to/2IjtF1N

(small affiliate fee from these book links helps pay for Podcast hosting charges)

Facebook discussion group-

Facebook Group

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ColdWarPod