34 – Samy – The Life of a West Berliner

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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.

Just click here.

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.



West Music:
East Music:




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.




33 – Eileen – A British teacher living & working in East Berlin

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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.


Hotel Neptune – Warnemunde

Foto zu Bistro Neptun's M - Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Deutschland. Vitamin - Orangen - Eisschale mit Krokant und Vita-Soße

Billy Bragg Concert in East Berlin.


Attila The Stockbroker – Echoes Of Rhodesia (live at Liedersommer Berlin DDR)


32 – Eileen – A British Student Living in the GDR

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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.

Rostock in the 1970s & 80s


Fidel Castro in Rostock in the 1970s


A Danish school visit to Rostock in 1976


22 – Talking Trabi

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Trabi album

Welcome to episode 22 of Cold War Conversations.

This episode is a Cold War Conversations first. It’s our first outside broadcast and we’re talking about East German cars with Alex Goffe and Mark Mullarkey of the UK-based Wartburg Trabant IFA Club.

Before we start I would again like to thank all those who are supporting the podcast with monthly pledges via Patreon. It is much appreciated and will allow us to expand the scope of the podcast.

If you would like to support the podcast further and get access to some exclusive extras use this Patreon link .

Some of you have asked for the ability to make a one off donation and this is facility is now available  via  Paypal at paypal.me/coldwarconversations.

Now I don’t think Top Gear or Jeremy Clarkson, etc. have anything to worry about, but I hope you enjoy our chat and ride through the Staffordshire countryside in Alex’s Trabi…


How to drive a Trabant

Trabi advert (english subtitles)

Trabi Rally Cross – popular in Hungary

How Trabis are made

Top Gear episode on the Trabant from 1993

Web sites

UK-based Wartburg Trabant IFA Club,

Instruction manual in english for the Trabi 

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

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.



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


Brixmis: The Untold Exploits of Britain’s Most Daring Cold War Spy Mission

BRIXMIS: The Last Cold War Mission


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 


A Visit to Rostock – english language teaching film.

Support the Podcast and get access to exclusive extra content 

Available on our Patreon page here

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 **


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


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 **


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


Once Upon a Time in the East.


Mark’s latest album Mauerstadt


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 6 – The 1953 East German Uprising with Dr Richard Millington

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TankWelcome you to episode 6 of Cold War Conversations where we talk to about the relatively little known Uprising of 1953 in East Germany.

A lot of focus is on the fall of the Berlin Wall, but it can be argued that the Uprising of 1953 sowed the seeds for the eventual demise of the GDR.

We chat with Dr Richard Millington who has studied the Uprising and shares with us some fascinating research including eyewitness accounts and details from the Stasi files of the period.


Pathe new footage of the Uprising

Footage of GDR uprising 1953. With interview by participant

2 Days of Hope – German TV Drama

Other Links

Erna Dorn “Leader” of the “Fascist Putsch” in Halle

Richard’s Twitter account @DDRonline

Richard’s 17th June 1953 Twitter project web site

8000 Ft Media


Wind of Change – The Scorpions

Leningrad – Billy Joel


State, Society and Memories of the Uprising of 17 June

Anatomy of a Dictatorship – Mary Fulbrook

The People State – Mary Fulbrook

DDR Handbook