Cold War Conversations

Cold War Conversations

Recording the stories of the Cold War before they are lost...... Show More

Episodes

February 27, 2021 55 min

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 has written a vivid, gripping account of China in 1949. We discuss, the...

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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 spying operations that he knew about to the KGB. This included the names of hundreds of...

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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 London that follows the lives of British soldiers in Germany over the past 75 years. 

E...

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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 become the top Engineer in charge of the Royal Navy’s operational nuclear submarine force ...

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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 key teaching aid for Soviet English students.

Now I know some of you skip this bit, but ...

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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 services, the BND.

We hear about "Operation Giraffe", described as the largest intell...

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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 describes how he and his friends attacked the Communist held Budapest radio statio...

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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, Poland where in 1980 the first free trade union in the Eastern Bloc was formed, and hi...

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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 , aerobatics and unsurprisingly navigation skills. 

On completion of his flying train...

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December 30, 2020 56 min

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 focused around the Sovietisation of Estonia post-WW2, which he researched over a number ...

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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 into the eventual fall of the GDR.

Do you know how much $3 USD is in Pounds? It’s 76 pe...

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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 responsible for improving trade, ensuring correct dealings on status of Berlin and try to promo...

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December 12, 2020 72 min

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 gives a vivid first-hand account of a jungle operation with the South Vietnamese R...

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December 5, 2020 84 min

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 chat includes some vivid descriptions of what she saw and heard at the time, it explai...

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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 reveals the fascinating contents of her Stasi file, detailing the intense surveillance ...

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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 played in the Cuban Missile Crisis while also learning the truth behind what official sta...

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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 name Détente. 

The leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union, Richard Nixon and L...

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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, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his R...

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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. What you will hear in Carmen’s own words is an incredibly emotional story about childh...

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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.  

He also trained as a Foreign Area Officer specialising in Western Europe and studied...

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