Cold War, Warm Hearts – Hitchhiking behind the 1960s Iron Curtain

  In 1966 most of Bridget’s friends, in their early twenties, were settling down with jobs and/or husbands… She, on the other hand, set off alone to travel across Poland relying on the kindness of strangers.  Fascinated by what she experienced she continued to wander the highways and byways of, Hungary Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and … Read more

Across the Iron Curtain in a yellow MG Midget sports car

  Andrew McNeile decided to travel through Eastern Europe in a yellow MG Midget Sports car, a ​car ​that’s ​going ​to ​stand ​out ​no ​matter ​where you are! He recalls his adventures travelling through East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia He talks about the warmth and friendliness of people, challenges with petrol quality, and … Read more

Cold War Polish childhood near Wroclaw

Tom lived in the town of Jawor in western Poland in an area that had been part of Germany until the end of World War 2. He describes how his grandmother settled in this area and the strangeness of taking over formerly German houses and apartments. Tom’s grandfather on his mother’s side was a Communist … Read more

Cold War Polish People Army Radio Operator conscript

Communist Poland had universal conscription and the armed forces were huge by contemporary standards. The Polish People’s Army, Navy, and Airforce had just over 400,000 troops for most of the 1980s in a country of 36 million. Tom was a conscript in Polish People’s Army from 1987-89. He served as a radio operator in Legnica … Read more

A photojournalist in Cold War Eastern Europe

During the 1970s and 1980s, Arthur Grace travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain, working primarily for news magazines. One of only a small corps of Western photographers with ongoing access, he was able to delve into the most ordinary corners of people’s daily lives, while also covering significant events. His remarkable book Communism(s) A Cold … Read more

Cold War number stations

You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether.  These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries. Number stations were used … Read more

Terrorism in the Cold War

I talk with the writers and editors of  Terrorism in the Cold War a new two volume book that uses a wide range of case studies including Polish Military Intelligence and Its Secret Relationship with the Abu Nidal Organization and Gladio – Myth and Reality: The Origins and Function of Stay Behind in the Case … Read more

A workers view of Poland from Łódź in 1986

  Evan McGilvray has written a number of books on Poland as well as biographies. He is well versed in Poland and Polish society and away from the usual locations of Krakow and Warsaw. Evan first visited Poland in 1986, 5 years after the declaration of martial law which triggered the suppression of the free … Read more