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This is the third and final part of Ralph Hänel’s story of his life in East Germany. In this episode, we hear his time in the Stasi prison in Cottbus which with its dark red brick façade was often referred to as the ‘Red Misery’. It’s a chilling insight into Stasi prison conditions and the brutality that the political prisoners endured from the oth…
 
In this second part of Ralph Hänel’s story of his life in East Germany. We hear of Ralph’s arrest by the Stasi and subsequent interrogation for 10 months. Ralph describes in some detail the arrest and his early days of imprisonment. He also details the techniques used to try and make him break and the pressure the Stasi also put on his mother. It’s…
 
We speak with author Giles Milton about his new book Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World. In 1945 at the end of World War 2 the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin. For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals – British, American and Soviet – fought an intensely personal battle over the fu…
 
This episode is sponsored by MUBI, a curated streaming service with an ever-changing collection of hand-picked cinema. From new directors to award-winners. From everywhere on earth. Beautiful, interesting, incredible films — with a new one added every single day. Right now on MUBI, you can watch STATE FUNERAL, an astonishing archival vision of the …
 
We speak with author Tim Tate about his new book the Spy who was left out in the Cold: The Secret History of Agent Goleniewski Michal Goleniewski remains one of the most important, yet least known and most misunderstood spies of the Cold War. Even his death is shrouded in mystery and he has been written out of the history of Cold War espionage - un…
 
Ralph Hänel tells some unique, strange and funny short stories about childhood and youth in East Germany. We talk about the experiences of his parents in the closing stages of World War 2, his schooling, and how he became a DJ, winning a trip to the Soviet Union. Ralph is a great raconteur with virtually endless stories about his life in East Germa…
 
Adrian Jones was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Irish Army in 1983. As a 23 year old officer he served in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon from 1987 to 1988. The Irish battalion consisted of 580 personnel which were rotated every six months, plus almost 100 others in UNIFIL headquarters and the Force Mobile Rese…
 
In August 1960, a Soviet colonel called Oleg Penkovsky contacted the West to offer to work as a 'soldier warrior for the free world. MI6 and the CIA ran Penkovsky jointly, in an operation that ran through the showdown over Berlin and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He provided crucial intelligence, including photographs of rocket manuals that helped Kenn…
 
70 years ago today would have been the middle of a desperate battle by outnumbered British forces at the battle of the Imjin River in Korea. The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, and one of the few times when the Cold War turned hot. There were approximately 3 million war fatalities and a larger proportional civ…
 
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 period. He met with several South African…
 
9.07 a.m., April 12, 1961. A top-secret rocket site in the USSR. A young Russian sits inside a tiny capsule on top of the Soviet Union’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile and blasts into the skies. His name is Yuri Gagarin. And he is about to make history. We speak with Stephen Walker author of “Beyond” a new book that tells the thri…
 
In April 1966, a state-of-the-art Soviet aircraft, the Yak-28P crashed into the British Sector of West Berlin. This intelligence gift to the Allied forces resulted in a tense confrontation with the Soviet forces We speak with historian Bernd von Kostka of the Allied Museum in Berlin-Dahlem who has researched this story for his upcoming book Capital…
 
We speak with Chris Summers who as a 22 year old was sent by his employers to East Germany in a Ford Escort to install British factory machinery. He provides us with interesting insights into life in the provinces of the GDR. Long term listeners of the podcast will recognise one of Chris’s colleagues was Tim, husband of Antje who was our guest in e…
 
Soviet Tours is a Berlin-based tour operator focussed on off-the-beaten-path destinations across the globe. Their core area, as the name suggests, lies mainly in and around the former USSR. From the mystic forests of Central Siberia to the austere peaks of the High Caucasus, from the scorching deserts of the Soviet Stans to the windswept steppes of…
 
Our conversation with Rob Forsyth continues with his posting as a Lieutenant Commander or second in command to HMS Repulse, a Polaris nuclear missile. We hear in detail the challenges of command on these boats, their launch procedures and the conversations Rob had with his captain about the circumstances when they might refuse to launch the missile…
 
Rob Forsyth joined the Submarine service in 1961. By March 1962 as a young officer, he joined HMS Auriga a 1945 vintage diesel submarine. Within 7 months the 22-year-old was loading live torpedoes and preparing for a war mission during the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Robs tell of many fascinating incidents in his career including under-…
 
Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp was a protest camp established in 1981 to protest against the deployment of USAF controlled Ground Launched nuclear armed Cruise Missiles at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire, England. On the eve of International Women’s’ Day 2021 I talk with Jan Castro-Fraser who chose to challenge the existence of nuclear weapons…
 
The events of 1949 in China reverberated across the world and throughout the rest of the century. That tumultuous year saw the dramatic collapse of Chiang Kai-shek's 'pro-Western' Nationalist government, overthrown by Mao Zedong and his communist armies, and the foundation of the People's Republic of China. I talk with author Graham Hutchings who h…
 
Acclaimed author and journalist Simon Kuper, has written The Happy Traitor, the story of British spy and Soviet Union double agent George Blake, the last major British traitor of the Cold War. In 1961, Blake was sentenced to forty-two years imprisonment – at the time, the longest sentence in modern British history. He had betrayed all the western s…
 
Germany has been at the heart of the British Army's story since 1945. After the Second World War, the Army helped rebuild a devastated and divided nation. It provided protection during the Cold War, and later used Germany as a base from which to deploy troops across the world. Foe to Friend is a major exhibition at The National Army Museum in Londo…
 
Commodore Eric Thompson MBE is the author of the book “On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service. He is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War. He joined the Navy in the last days of Empire, made his first sorties in World War II type submarines, and went on to becom…
 
Vadim was at school in Moscow during the 1970s and 80s. He attended an Advanced English Studies School where all subjects were taught, however the focus was on English. He provides us with insights into the setup of Soviet education as well as the school life, teaching methods and pop culture. We hear how the British newspaper “Morning Star” was a …
 
We continue the story of Bill, a US Army Intelligence Analyst with Combined Analysis Detachment-Berlin (CAD-B) from episode 127. Germany has now been re-unified and Russian troops have withdrawn from East Germany. Bill tells us of the little known story of continued US Army involvement in intelligence gathering alongside the German security service…
 
Charlie was 19 in 1956. A trip home from work by tram ended up with him being thrust into the heart of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a nationwide revolution against the Hungarian People's Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. I’m in conversation with Charlie and his daughter Angela as Charlie …
 
Professor Timothy Garton Ash is a British historian, author, commentator and Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. Professor Garton Ash witnessed some of the most critical moments in the Eastern Bloc during the 1980s as these populations threw off Communist rule. He provides us with vivid details of his time in East Germany, Gdansk, P…
 
Ian Black is a former RAF Fighter Pilot with a passion for photography and motorcycles. He began his flying career with the legendary McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom in RAF Germany at the height of the Cold War. After three years flying as a navigator Ian underwent Pilot Training in 1984-1986 during which time he was awarded prizes for flying ability…
 
Michael Zdanowski was born and raised in the UK, but his interest with the Cold War goes back generations. His grandfather having emigrated from Poland to the United Kingdom during the second world war and was a distinguished member of the RAF in the battle against Germany. Michael’s interest in the Cold War prompted him to pursue a doctorate focus…
 
This is Part 2 of our conversation with Colin Munro who was the British Deputy Head of Mission in East Berlin from 1987 to 1990. In this episode we move to the monumental events of 1989 as the GDR was wrought by internal protest prior to the opening of the Wall in Berlin. It’s a fascinating account of Colin’s contacts who were giving him insights i…
 
Colin Munro was the British Deputy Head of Mission in East Berlin from 1987 to 1990. Although the UK did not recognise East Berlin as part of the GDR in 1973 it established an Embassy “to” the GDR (not in the GDR) in East Berlin to provide a diplomatic presence. As Deputy Head of Mission Colin was effectively the Deputy Ambassador and was responsib…
 
In this episode we talk with Col. Keith Nightingale who served in the US military from 1965 to 1993. He completed two tours of Vietnam; the first as a Senior Advisor to a Vietnamese Ranger unit and the second as a rifle company commander in the 101st Airborne. Keith used the experience of his first tour to write ‘Just another day in Vietnam’ which …
 
During her first visit to Poland in 1980, Dr 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 of Free Trade Unions. Our …
 
Sue Boyd has been the head of Australian diplomatic missions in Fiji, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Bangladesh. She also had postings at the United Nations in New York and in the former East Germany. Sue was posted to East Germany in 1976 and tells of her work, friendships, and life as a single woman in the diplomatic community of 1970s East Berlin. She r…
 
Today we speak with Ian Ballantyne, the author of “Hunter Killers”, also known as “Undersea Warriors” in the United States. Hunter Killers’ tells the incredible, true inside story of the Royal Navy’s Cold War beneath the waves. Buy the book and support the podcast here https://amzn.to/3jalire We talk about the forgotten role Royal Navy submarines p…
 
Today we speak with Richard Crowder, the author of “Détente – the chance to end the Cold War”. Help support the podcast buy the book here UK listeners https://amzn.to/34yNeB2 US listeners https://amzn.to/3kHU3pO Between 1968 and 1975, there was a subtle thawing of relations between East and West, for which Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev coined the n…
 
Guy Burgess was the most important, complex, and fascinating of The Cambridge Spies, brilliant young men recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union. An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gain…
 
At 2 a.m. on 10 March 1983, 12 year old Carmen Bugan was home alone after her father had left for Bucharest. That afternoon, Carmen returned from school to find secret police in her living room. Her father’s protest against the regime had changed her life for ever. This is her story. This is one of the most powerful stories I have recorded so far. …
 
In this second episode with Don Snedeker we talk to him about his time after his tour of Vietnam when he served in West Germany. From 1974 to 1986 Don served in a number of roles but most noticeably he was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, one of the locations where it was assumed that Warsaw Pact units would attack through. H…
 
Today we’re speaking with Barry Mullen who was a Navigator on the legendary Royal Air Force bomber, the Vulcan. Barry served during the 1970s and candidly shares his experiences. He tells us about his time at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion as well as detail of his mission scenarios, both conventional and nuclear, escape and evas…
 
In this bonus episode, we talk again with Paul Grant, author of "Coercion" the fourth book about the Schultz family who live in Berlin. His books are set at the end of the Second World War and the start of the Cold War. Coercion is set in 1962 against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall while it is still barbed wire and a fragile wall. Escape attempts …
 
This is the first of two episodes we have following Don Snedeker’s experiences through the Cold War. In this episode, we hear about his time in Vietnam and the book he has written entitled "The Blackhorse in Vietnam: The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam and Cambodia, 1966–1972”. Don was born in Brooklyn New York but followed his Father’s po…
 
Today’s episode is brought to you by Osprey publishing and we’re speaking with Michael Napier, the author of “In Cold War Skies – NATO and Soviet airpower 1949-89”. Michael also flew the Tornado during the Cold War and served during the 1980s at 14 Sqn and 31 Sqn at RAF Brüggen in West Germany where he talks about nuclear QRA, low-level training in…
 
This is part 2 of our chat with Jack Barsky who spent ten years as an undercover KGB agent in the United States. He is the longest surviving known member of the KGB illegals programme that operated during the Cold War. In this episode we talk about his first days in the US, his mission and how he managed build his cover enabling him to live and wor…
 
If you’ve seen the TV drama series, “The Americans” you’ll be fascinated by this episode. Albrecht Dittrich was an East German graduate student and a true believer in the Communist cause when he was recruited by the KGB in 1970. He spent ten years as an undercover KGB agent in the United States. He is the longest surviving known member of the KGB i…
 
This is the 2nd episode with Trevor Barnes, the author of “Dead Doubles, a new book on the Portland Spy Ring, one of the most infamous espionage cases of the Cold War. The story continues with the dramatic arrest of three of the KGB spies outside the Old Vic theatre in London and the discovery of the amazing espionage career of the Krogers, the inn…
 
In this episode we talk with Trevor Barnes, the author of “Dead Doubles, a new book on the Portland Spy Ring, one of the most infamous espionage cases of the Cold War. In 1960 it was discovered that crucial secrets from the world-leading submarine research base at Portland in Dorset were being stolen by a British man and his mistress. The couple we…
 
This is the 2nd part of our conversation with Major General Sir Robert Corbett, KCVO, CB who was the last Commandant of the British Sector in Berlin. We join as I ask what were the British Army’s plans in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion of West Berlin. We also talk about the momentous night of 9th November 1989 and a fascinating tale of a situa…
 
Major General Sir Robert Corbett, KCVO, CB was the last Commandant of the British Sector in Berlin. We start his story with the description of his first experience of Berlin as a young Army officer commanding a military train across East Germany into West Berlin just weeks after the Berlin Wall had been built. We also talk about his subsequent Army…
 
Born in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eva Caletkova has written an honest and unflinching account of her childhood in Bratislava. Eva’s parents were Catholics, and the communist regime began to persecute the Catholic Church right from the start in 1948. They had to hide their faith from anyone outside of their home. Eva provides us with an insightful a…
 
Werner Stiller’s spectacular defection to the West in 1979 inflicted one of the Cold War’s most serious blows to the Stasi. At the time he was working as a case officer for the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance, the Stasi’s foreign intelligence division, where he was in charge of scientific espionage in the West. We speak with Stiller’s son Andy,…
 
Tim Phillips travelled the route of the former Iron Curtain from deep inside the arctic circle to the meeting point in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. On his journey, he explored both the surviving traces of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. The people he meets bear vivid witness to a time of change. There are some who now look on the Cold War …
 
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