What do you remember about the Cold War?
Divided in two, the Cold War split the world between the socialist and capitalist blocs. How did these divisions shape people between the end of World War Two and the start of the 1990s?
What role did the BBC play in your life at this time, and to what extent did it shape your perception of Cold War events?
Was the BBC a lifeline, a potential source of danger, or did you view its output with scepticism?
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You can also contribute to the Re-Connect / Re-Collect: Crossing the Divides through Memories of Cold War Childhoods Cold War Project.
I was born in April 1956 in Hungary and my parents fled the country between Christmas and New Year and escaped to Austria. As I was a baby they could not take me with them so I was left with my Grandparents who brought me up until the age of 9 when I joined my parents in England. I have very vivid memories of my Grandparents listening to the BBC Hungarian broadcast. They felt that was the most balanced news channel out of the three, the other two were Radio Free Europe and Radio America. They had to have the volume very low and even in the summer the windows were closed when they listened as listening was punishable and there were informers everywhere so they had to make sure they were not over-heard by the neighbours or people in the street. We never talked about it either with anybody else and I learnt very early on to keep quiet as it could get the people I love in trouble. They held the BBC in very high esteem and were grateful for the information and the broadcasts as it enabled them to know what was really going on. I in fact worked at the Monitoring Service for a very short time but I realised the work was not for me so I left but it was a very valuable experience in all sorts of ways.
Aniko Ingham, Bromsgrove
Back in 1988, I was in the middle of my two year military service in the Soviet Union. Once we were assigned to escort a military cargo from Riga to Odessa. While sitting on a freighter's platform in the middle of the night I was hunting for some music on a short wave portable radio. Suddenly I came across the BBC Russian service. It was surreal to hear that voice from the West while gazing into clear starry night. The voice was fading in and fading out, interleaving with a loud rumble of the freighter.
Kas Stucinskas, Epsom
I recall the night of the wall coming down from being in the West and the response from many West Germans at that time. (Police Chiefs, Military and Civil). Also was in the East Berlin soon after and met with the People and Soviet Service Personnel. I still have a small collection of items from this period and some stories. Can contact me if interested in these and further information.
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The Cold War elsewhere on the BBC
- BBC Four: London Calling: Cold War Letters
- BBC Four: Arena: A British Guide to the End of the World
- BBC Four: Britain’s Nuclear Bomb – The Inside Story
- BBC Radio 4: Intrigue: Tunnel 29
- BBC Radio 4: The Moral Maze - The Fall of the Berlin Wall
- BBC Radio 4: The Moral Maze - Cold War 2.0?
- BBC Radio 4: Archive on 4 – 09/11/19 Build the Wall
- BBC Radio 4: Document: GCHQ: Keeping the Last Great Secret
- BBC Radio 4: Four Thought: The Shadow of the Cold War
- BBC Radio 4: Letter from America by Alistair Cooke: Surveillance and espionage in the Cold War
- BBC Radio 4: Letter from America by Alistair Cooke:1989 Soviet-Chinese summit
- BBC Radio 4: Letter from America by Alistair Cooke: Nuclear reduction talks suggested
- BBC Radio 4: Letter from America by Alistair Cooke: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
- BBC Radio 4: BBC World Service/BBC Radio 4: Witness: Life in Ceausescu's Romania
- BBC News World Service: The Documentary – Comrade Africa
- BBC News World Service: The Compass – The Cold War Legacy
- BBC Radio 3: Sunday Feature: Cold War in Full Swing - Louis Armstrong in the GDR
- BBC Home Service/BBC Sounds: The Reith Lectures: The Military Problem; George Kennan: Russia, the Atom and the West: 1957
- BBC Bitesize: Cold War