Born into a family of Canadian Communists

Fred Weir was a third-generation red diaper baby from Toronto and a long-time member of the party. His uncle, trained at the Lenin School in Moscow in the 1920s as an agent of the Communist International, the Comintern and spent many years in the USSR. Fred had visited a few times, had studied Russian history … Read more

A South African journalist in apartheid South Africa

  John Matisonn is a South African journalist who  grew up in the suburbs in Johannesburg. In 1979 he was sentenced to jail for refusing to reveal his news sources. Matisonn describes life as a journalist in apartheid South Africa as well as his meetings with some of the key South African personalities of that … Read more

With Solidarity in Gdansk in 1980

    During her first visit to Poland in 1980, Jacqueline Hayden met the leading members of the free trade union ‘Solidarność’, including the future president Lech Wałęsa. As a freelance journalist at that time, she reported the events in Gdańsk in August 1980, when the shipyard workers went on strike to demand the creation … Read more

The KGB tried to recruit me

Hans de Vreij is a Dutch journalist who has worked in Berlin , Brussels, Geneva and Prague. Whilst working at the United Nations in Geneva Hans was the subject of attempted recruitment by the KGB to develop an ‘agent of influence’ to disseminate Soviet points of view. In addition, they analysed the ‘targeted journalist’ in … Read more

Reporting the 1989 Romanian Revolution

      Mark Brayne worked as a Reuters & BBC journalist during the Cold War. This time we are in Romania in December 1989 where riots, street violence and murder in several cities over the course of roughly a week led the Romanian leader Nicolae Ceaușescu to flee the capital city on 22 December … Read more

A British Journalist under Stasi Surveillance

      In this episode we talk to Mark Brayne again in a wide ranging chat about his career as a Reuters & BBC journalist including details of his Stasi file, his time in the Soviet Union, Hungary & Poland as well as the perils of editing analogue tape in a non-digital age. Among … Read more

A UK Journalist in the Soviet Union & the GDR

    Mark Brayne studied in Moscow 71-72, travelling the country with fellow UK students and spending silly amounts of time in the bathhouses with salted fish and very poor quality beer. He returned in 1974-75 as Reuters trainee journalist where he became very close to Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb … Read more

Alan – Working in the GDR & The USSR

  Welcome to Cold War Conversations – if you’re new here, you’ve come the right place to listen to firsthand Cold War history accounts. Do make sure you subscribe in your podcast app so you don’t miss out on future episodes. Alan Baker worked and studied in the GDR and the USSR from the 1970s … Read more

Warsaw Bureau Chief for Time Magazine 1981-83

  Richard Hornik was the Warsaw Bureau Chief for Time Magazine from 1981-1983. He carried out numerous interviews with Solidarity Free Trade Union leader Lech Wałęsa including his last interview before martial law was declared in December 1981. He shares the stories of 1980s Poland as well as the interviews he carried out with the … Read more