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The Cold War

mike jenks

master brummie
Hi

A part life for a while was spent in the World of
Berlin from 1963 to 1968.
The City was completely surrounded by the trappings
of the left overs from World War 2.
The journey's I undertook I was able to enter Berlin
via Air Rail and Land via the corridors.
Travelling to East Berlin was alway's difficult via Checkpoint
Charlie or by foot via the Bahnhoff Friedrickstrasse.
In all cases you were subject to strict searches via East German
Guards often with viscious dogs.
Train searches by these guy's was awesome. Reminders of
Jews escaping SS. Yet there i was sitting in a Train with this
going on. Escapining from East Berlin/Germany was a challange.
We would enter East Berlin during the day to just meet young people.
Care was alway's needed as the security Police were every where.
During that period it was alway's heartwarming when we got a Card
from the West saying so and so had escaped. our role was simply
to talk to them in Cafe about the west what we were doing.
Clearly Escape was left to the experts. I think the organisation
itself was happy for us to chat to East Berlin youth but no more.
One night however leaving Frierichstrasse for some reasom my paper
work and change were not correct.
2 hours later I breathed the fresh Air of the West. Simple interigation etc
where had I been all day etc but after a while they gave up.
Strange that was 1968 and I never went back. I travelled all those years
and one simple error.
Strangely when BMW took us over in 1992 till 1999 I visted
a few areas in Eastern Germany where the Iron Curtain stood.
The watch towers were empty but the thoughts of the 60's were still
with me.
Our only encounter with the Russians took place in 1965.
On our way back home to the Checkpoint at Helmstedt our
Vehicle broke down. Normal time allowed on the Corridor for this
journey was 2 hours. It took several hours for the guy to mend the
Radiatior hose.
Arrival at the checkpoint say 2 hours late. Into the hut and we are all
detained. 16 of us for several hours. The Eat German's are not satisfied with our story and in come 3 Russian Officers. Ouch we say.
We tell him the story all over again and he asks do you have any paper
work to substatiate your story. Well low and be hold we have the receipt
from the breakdown guy. It has the times on it.
The Russian takes it and off they go. Within an hour he is back all
appolagetic etc and off we go.
Apparently the Breakdown guy should have notified the Border patrol
of our start time. Again Paper work.
strange how this Cold War that lasted for decades isnt really
remembered perhaps the loss of life wasnt an issue but thousands
of troops were doing there service during this period and still are.
During a vist to Stuttgart we went back to Kelly Barracks. In the 60's
this housed thousands of US personnel. In 1995 it was empty a ghost
town. The US areas even in West Berlin were huge. Tanks were alway's
around there sector. The British Army was based in the Charlottenburg
Area. One day we were working near some woods and suddendly up popped
A scottish troop fully armed from with the wood.
Happy day's


Mike Jenks
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Here are a view of what Potsdamer Platz was like in 1934, and two showing what has been built in the last 15 years or so. It's a fantastic place, but not for me - I can walk to some lovely places in 5 minutes, and in ten minutes, well . . .
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Oh, by the way, the three lights on each face at the top of the clock tower were the first traffic lights in Europe.
Peter
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for that, Mike, a really interesting piece.

For my generation Berlin has always loomed large in the consciousness. In one's earliest childhood it was the dark heart of Europe, distant, alien, wholly impenetrable - as inaccessible and as dangerous as Mars. By January 1945, when one was old enough to read some of the newspapers, it had become a shining light, a beacon, the route to the end of all the fighting. Almost every day the Daily Mail or the Mirror would say how far the Allied armies were then away from the city - 200 miles, 150, 110, 80, 30 - edging closer and closer, until in May it was all over.

I only ever went there twice, in 1967 and 1968. Both were short business trips to East Berlin. I left most of my working papers in the hotel room in West Berlin, the Bristol-Kempinski, and took with me only cryptic notes. It seemed a bit paranoid at the time and especially when I thought about it later; but then after the fall of the regime when the secrets of the DDR began to be uncovered one realised that it was probably not so daft after all. Files on everybody, everyone spying on everyone else and a security organisation many, many times bigger in terms of manning, resources and thoroughness than even the Gestapo had deemed necessary in a far bigger country.

I and a colleague went through Checkpoint Charlie. There the long wait, in no-man's-land between two opposing worlds, whilst one wondered whether one's passport, handed over to a hatchet-faced border guard, would ever reappear from the dark recesses of the hut. And the compulsory exchange of money - 5 DM I think, in return for the equivalent East German marks, and one had to spend the latter or hand it in before returning to the West. Then finally the long walk down the rest of the Friedrichstrasse which gave one a first flavour of East Berlin, the gaunt remains of large buildings, smoke-blackened and with twisted girders open to the sky, unchanged since the last Lancaster bomb or Red Army artillery shell.

Our meeting within a State Purchasing Authority office was bad - unfriendly, dishonest even. It was the day after Harold Wilson's devaluation of the pound. Flashing his gold teeth, the senior official grinned at us and reminded us of this humiliation. I didn't respond. I could have asked him in return when his lot were intending to rebuild the Friedrichstrasse. But I didn't. We seemed then to be in permanent economic decline, with all of Europe apparently succeeding whilst we were failing and with even East Germany on the up and up. Better to shut up and laugh it all off.

Afterwards my colleague and I decided to have a wander around that part of the city whilst we were there. Possibly one of the most depressing afternoons of my life. So much of the city was still in a similar state to the Friedrichstrasse. We found an exhibition open, dedicated to German history. Not really the thing to brighten us up but we went in nevertheless. The foyer set the tone. On a wall was a vast map of Europe. At that time one was used to seeing maps which showed western Europe in all its detail, up to the boundary with the Soviet Block beyond which everything was blank, an area it would have been extremely difficult to vist in the unlikely event one would have wanted to do so. This map was an inversion of that. All the eastern countries, East Germany, Poland, the western part of the Soviet Union, were shown in full detail, cities, boundaries, rivers. But beyond the boundary with the West, nothing. France, Holland, West Germany, the British Isles, all reduced to an anonymous black expanse with just the outline of the coast. It was a strange, uncomfortable feeling.

The exhibition attempted to tread an impossibly difficult path. On the one hand, it tried to depict and condemn the horrors and the evil of the Third Reich in uncomfortable detail. I can still remember the whips and the photographs and the telegrams instructing the arrest of one unfortunate or another. And on the other hand it was attempting at the same time to condemn the role played by the Allies in the overthrow of this dreadful regime - the Western Allies, that is, not the Soviet involvement. The RAF was represented by part of a Lancaster undercarrige recovered from a nearby lake, its Dunlop tyre hardened and deformed after years under water. Other components were still attached to the structure, with maker's labels demonstrating their Midlands origins. And now here they were, on show in a Communist exhibition in the former Nazi capital city, the condemnation shouting at us.

Eventually we said goodbye to the exhibition and its disturbing map and emerged. By then it was drizzling and the city was greyer and more dismal than ever. We walked along the bank of the River Spree and, deciding that it was about time to leave, noticed a stationary bus in the distance, pointing at us and in the right direction. We hurried towards it The driver watched us until we were about ten yards away, then revved his engine and drove past us, his expression the facial equivalent of the upturned finger.

So we walked back to Checkpoint Charlie, handed over our unused marks and re-entered a city of colour and glitter where the lights were bright and the concept of friendliness and service had survived - or perhaps revived.

We had to retrace our steps a few months later. We didn't expect improvement and we weren't disappointed. But at least it had stopped drizzling by then.

Chris.
 

mike jenks

master brummie
Hi

Those day's in Berlin in the 60's were strange. Daily bursts
from the Russian Migs. I remember one Journey from Heath
Row into TempleHof.
It was in a BEA Viscount. We were not allowed fly Jets into
TempleHof for some reason so off we set of in the Viscount.
It like a Sardine Tin inside and the Seats were Tiny..
It took hours the journey and speed felt we were on a Bombing run in a
Lancaster.
All of a sudden once we entered the Corridor Air space 3 Russian Migs
flew along side. Once we entered West Berlin Air space the rolled
away.
The Western side was full of life although a lot of development took
place in the show piece areas in East Berlin.
Attached a few more miserable photo's of those day's.
 
B

Beryl M

Guest
In those days Mike the Cold War was long, dangerous, deadly, unappreciated, and boring. Everyone in the European theatre realized the soviets would attack on the darkest night, in a snowstorm, when there was zero visibility on Christmas morning. They had too few tanks, too few combat aircraft, too few troops, and too little fire power to send the Soviets to the hell they didn’t believe in or back to their labour camps
.
When I review the written histories on the Soviet Union and its relationship to the rest of Europe prior to and after the Second World War, some interesting things come to light. For example, Lenin was put into Russia by her European neighbours. And later Hitler produced posters illustrating his belief that Russia and America were in cooperation against Germany. Stalin killed millions and millions of his own people. I think after WWII, the Soviet Union was blown all out of proportion to its actual capabilities by American military and media in order to justify the expansion of government. . .

Today, American corporations have partnered with Russia and even Communist China for slave labour and an eye on Russia's oil reserves. Commie slave labour produces the WalMart made-in-China goods that undersell everybody. That should be illegal. Corporations should not be allowed to partner with Commies, Kings, and other dictatorships to exploit workers. If people want to buy Chinese, then buy from Free China (Taiwan) where people can say to their boss "take this job and shove it" without being imprisoned or killed.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
There are some excellent. slightly earlier pictures of Berlin here. They were taken in 1952/53. https://www.d-e-zimmer.de/Webalbum Berlin1952/index.html At that time, before The Wall, it was possible for Berliners to visit all parts of the city. And what a wasteland it still was, then.

I have received some invaluable help from the photographer in connection with a piece I'm doing on Berlin at the moment.That has, surprisingly, a strong Birmingham connection . It won't be postable in full here and so I'll just provide the link in this forum, as and when, in case anyone is interested.

On the same website as the photos there are several memoirs of a Berlin childhood, in particular about the bombing and the arrival of the Russians. I haven't managed to persuade the author to put up versions in English yet, but I live in hope.

Chris
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Some Funny Moments

I went to West Berlin during the Cold War with the Mohawks skating club in 1967. We travelled all the way from Rotterdam by train.
At the East German border we were shunted into 'no mans land' our engine detatched and an east german engine attached.
We had to buy an entry visa at the border and they wanted us to enter our names, occupations etc.
In Berlin at checkpoint Charlie, I climbed a ladder to look over the wall, and a guard on the other side took a photo of me.
Coming out of Berlin back through East Germany a few days later we had to buy another visa.
We had drunk a few beers and one of the club members entered his name as Harry Palmer and his occupation as International Spy. (remember Michael Caine in the Ipcress File).
A tough looking east german lady border guard very closely checked our visas and passports, stamped them and let us back into West Germany. It was a scary moment, but maybe she was bored and wanted to get home early.
I've attached a picture of us in Berlin, the Brummies are in white, the others from Nottingham and Richmond.
 

dennis

master brummie
Hi Chrism
have just got round to looking at those photo's
found them very interesting,thanks for posting the website.
Dennis
 

mike jenks

master brummie
Hi

Strange how the chilly winds of the Cold War are blowing
around again.
Back in the Summer of 63 the 22 Clob of great Barr went to
Berlin. For 3 weeks 6hrs per day we toiled on the Hill known
as Teuferlsberg. In English it is the Devils Mountain.
We dug trenches for later tree planting. the Hill entirely
built out of the bomnbing debris was around 115 metyrers high.
the American's built a hige Radar station right on the Top to
the annoyance of the Soviets. Still there today but a total
ruin. Strange how a brand new Facilty built at the height
of the Cold war when I went back in 92 the place was closed.
Some years later i went back and it is a park now with
Ski Runs and trees and lakes.
It was so hot that summer and on the Hill it reached a
100 deg F.
The group was an Internation group around 10 Countries
of about 30 people. All our fares lodgings and Food were provided.
The Pictures I found recently shows Myself right Christne Moore
Jim Parkes 22 club Leader and to the left Horst the German Leader.
We stayed in the Woodschool nearby.
Another photo shows a lrry bringing in the rubble.
The sound of Migs breaking the Sound Barrier was a common
occurance. Tension was high after Cuba and Kennedy's visit.
What we did in those day's.

Mike Jenks
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Looking at the amazing video clips about the Russian meteorite, the thought occurred to me that if it had happened during the Cold War in the very tense times of 1962/1963, we might have had a Hot War with some bigger bangs over here...:friendly_wink:
 

mike jenks

master brummie
Hi

Yep its how amazing with all that Technology nobody new. It came at the same time as
the huge asteroid that just missed us. In the next cycle of the Elliptical Orbit of our solar
system we are heading into the bits and bobs zones of these guys.
We will have to get the Anderson Shelters out.
Still waiting on Mom 96. These long vigils are difficult I go everyday to the Nursing home
now at least we can Park for free. She is in a nice room unfortunately she cant speak now
but between the Family we all chat to her

Mike Jenks
 

sistersue61

master brummie
Mike glad your mom is holding her own, must be frustrating for her as well as the family.
There is a good exhibition about the Cold War featuring some of the planes at the RAF museum in Cosford, I learnt a lot from it!
Sue
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
Mercifully we knew nothing of that incident, oldMohawk. I was in a nuclear regiment, (Honest John), when the Cuban crisis flared up and Kennedy called the Russian's bluff. We were a trifle concerned, to say the least !
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Hi Baz - I remember President Kennedy's speech late one evening in October 1962 and thought the Russians will never turn round the ships carrying the missiles to Cuba, and in the office next morning the opinion was that 'this was it '. One overseas worker had caught a flight home to be with his family and we jokingly discussed what we were all going to do during the last few days before nuclear destruction !
Amazingly the Russians blinked first as Kruschev ordered the ships to turn round and life carried on. I think in those days of 'mutually assured nuclear destruction' it was the one time I was bit worried as it only needed two or three H bombs to destroy all of Britain.
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
Strange times, weren't they ? Funny how we just accepted the whole situation and even joked about it all-not that we could do anything else really !
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
I was at junior school during the Cuban crisis and remember parents talking about it. My friend and I and our mums were waiting in the queue to see 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' at the Aston studios. And I remember them commenting on how it'd become a dreadful world for a child grow up in with all these nuclear weapons. It's only now as I've written this that it's dawned on me how ironic the show's name was! But even as a child, the doom and gloom and sense of foreboding around at that time was very evident to me. Viv.
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
In another life my husband was in the RAF and in 1972 we were posted to West Berlin. Brian was with the British Forces Mission known as BRIXMIS, its role was to spy on the Russians. To all intent the English, French and the American missions liaised with the Russians. But the mission was to find out exactly what they were up to and the only way to do it was to start under the cover of darkness. Brian would take a team of his lads in a car, that was built like a tank, to a pre planned site having hopefully shaken off the East German police, who would always make things difficult by following them. They would find a spot where they could watch without being seen and absolutely everything was noted, if they were very lucky they might find troops on the move, and count every man, or every tank, whatever they did we had to know. Each mission had a light 'plane which also flew into the night.
Books have been written about BRIXMIS and each man who served will have many different stories to tell. I can only say what happened to me, and the Russians treated all of the wives as spies because their wives were often trained - we were not.
One of the perks of living in Berlin was that the actual Mission House was in Potsdam which was in East Germany and reached by crossing the famous Gleineker Bridge. The house was staffed by a Sergeant Major and a couple of soldiers who were there as guards, Each week-end the Sergeant Major and his family was relieved of his duty and an officer together with his family would stay in his place. It was a beautiful house, we had maids and a chef, so we never minded when it was our 'turn'.
One Sunday evening we were packed and ready and the driver had the car waiting to take us back to Berlin. We waited and waited for the Sergeant Major to arrive for the hand over, and when it was obvious something was afoot Brian radioed to HQ in Berlin. Of course they had no idea what had happened to him, so they despatched the duty Officer at HQ to the bridge to find out what was happening. The Russians had him held on the bridge where he and his wife sat in the car with windows tightly closed and doors locked which was proceedure. Finally Brian was told to start for Berlin as normal, windows and doors locked, and lets see what happens. Not a lot really, we sat and they sat, my heart thumped a bit until finally the SGT Major was allowed across the bridge, his car passed us and we all smiled and waved and we were given the go ahead to go back to West Berlin.
There is always a funny side and although it was far from laughable at the time we had our Siamese cat with us, she travelled in her basket where ever we went, and my biggest fear was that they would see her, never mind about us and our daughter who was 10 at that time.

The Russians were armed, I have no idea if Brian carried a gun I never asked. Shortly after we arrived in Berlin the Group Captain was fired at, thank heavens they missed, and shortly after Brian left Berlin an officer ws killed.

The reason for the hoo hah that night became clear next day, Russian counterparts had been caught redhanded in West Germany and we had PNG'd them; so they had to save face by causing the English problems, and that was the first of a few in the following weeks, some of which involved us wives going on a shopping trip to Potsdam. But that's another story!!
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
A great story Di, it certainly brings back the flavour of those strange times. We would never have believed back then that some time in the future Russians would be living in Britain and a few of them would be rich enough to buy some of our largest most magnificent houses. I look back to those days when the main worry was the possibility of the 'Red Army' rolling over Europe and the constant threat of everywhere being flattened by H bombs. Compared to today, they seemed stable times but I was young and carefree back then !
 
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