Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev – aspiring actor and poetry fan

Now, what do you think of when you hear the name Leonid Brezhnev who ruled the Soviet Union for 18 years from the 1960s to the 1980s? An old guy waving weakly from the Lenin mausoleum? Well, think again! We speak with Susanne Schattenberg, the author of a new biography that systematically dismantles the stereotypical … Read more

Handshake in the heavens – the Apollo-Soyuz mission

On 17 July 1975 the first manned international space mission, carried out jointly by the United States and the Soviet Union. Millions of people around the world watched on television as a United States Apollo module docked with a Soviet Union Soyuz capsule. The project, and its memorable handshake in the heavens, was a symbol … Read more

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

Berlin: Capital of Spies

For almost half a century, the hottest front in the Cold War was right across Berlin. From summer 1945 until 1990, spying was part of everyday life in both East and West Berlin. I speak with historian Bernd von Kostka of the Allied Museum in Berlin-Dahlem who has co-authored with Sven Felix Kellerhoff the book Capital … Read more

How a Soviet conscript became a NATO General

In 1985, an eighteen-year-old named Riho Terras arrived at the Soviet armed forces’ large conscript assessment facility in Tallinn obeying his conscription orders. Little did he know that 26 years later he would be a NATO General. Riho shares his experiences in the Soviet Navy with us in some detail. We hear about his service … Read more

Eyewitness to the 1991 Soviet Coup with Brett Elliott

Today’s episode is different. Brett Elliott died earlier this year and I was contacted by his ex-wife Polly who offered me a cassette tape. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google Podcasts Polly and Brett had met in college and got to know each other in Russian Club at Oklahoma State. In the summer … Read more

Life in the underground Soviet music scene Part 3

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google PodcastsListen on Podcast AddictListen on Amazon MusicBecome a Patron! In the final part, we hear of Joanna’s heartbreak when her visa is refused, preventing her from marrying Yuri.  However, using an ingenious method she manages an emotional reunion and eventual marriage as the Soviet Union begins to … Read more

Life in the underground Soviet music scene Part 2

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google Podcasts Joanna Stingray who was only 23 years old when she first set foot in the USSR and started meeting now-legendary musicians and artists of the Soviet underground. By 1985, she was writing and recording with them, and smuggling their music to the West in order to … Read more

Soviet and U.S. Military Liaison Missions & US Counterintelligence

I speak with Aden Magee who operated as the commander of a highly specialized Counterintelligence (CI) unit in West Germany during the last decade of the Cold War. We talk about his book The Cold War Wilderness of Mirrors – Counterintelligence and the U.S. and Soviet Military Liaison Missions 1947–1990. This is a rare book … Read more

The Gouzenko Affair – the start of the Cold War

Igor Gouzenko exposed Soviet intelligence’s efforts to steal nuclear secrets as well as the technique of planting sleeper agents. The “Gouzenko Affair” is often credited as a triggering event of the Cold War,  with historian Jack Granatstein stating it was “the beginning of the Cold War for public opinion” and journalist Robert Fulford writing he … Read more