The Cold War Years. A Hot War in reality. Part 8.

My ‘Cold War’ trilogy is complete. I enjoyed writing it and the empty space it has left will be filled with a new set of books, based on the outcome of a strategic nuclear exchange. An Apocalyptic trilogy, survival at its worst.

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

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The capital of Germany, Berlin, was divided into four Sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between Berlin and the West. A wall, 124 mile miles in length, was placed around the three sectors of West Berlin, cutting off the city from the rest of the world.

Section of the Berlin Wall – October 2011.

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Section of the  Berlin Wall – 2011

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The Brandenburg Gate separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall – 1984

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Checkpoint Charlie,  between East and West Berlin – American Sector of West Berlin 1981

I shall cover various aspects of the two opposing forces, providing the backdrop and background information for my trilogy.

“Today, West German imperialism is United States’ chief ally in Europe in aggravating world tension. West Germany is increasingly becoming the seat of the war danger, where revenge-seeking passions are running high… The policy pursued by the Federal Republic of Germany is being increasingly determined by the same monopolies that brought Hitler to power.

The Rhineland politicians fancy that once they get the atomic bomb, frontier posts will topple and they will be able to achieve their cherished desire of carving up the map of Europe again and taking revenge for defeat in the second world war.

One of the most ominous factors endangering peace is the bilateral military alliance that is taking shape between the ruling circles of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. This factor remains an objective of unflagging attention.”

Leonid Brezhnev

23rd Party Congress

March 1966

In 1984/85, the Warsaw Pact was already a significant force, the Soviet Union in particular. To counter this NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, assembled its own force of arms along the Iron Curtain. Not just as a show force against the communist ideals purported by the East, but because the likelihood of Warsaw Pact troops, led by the Soviet Union, crossing the Inner German Border was a real possibility.

The Soviet, European Theatre forces during the early to mid 80’s were growing in size and power daily.

What were the likely forces that NATO would have been up against had the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviet Union, attacked across the Inner German Border with the intention of defeating NATO and occupying western Europe?

The concentration of forces under Marshal Ogarkov’s High Command showed a huge build up during the period 1980-1984.  The High Command of the ‘Western Strategic Direction’, the ‘Western TVD’, was the most important of the Soviet Union’s four commands and contained the largest number of troops, tactical and medium-range surface to surface missiles and aircraft of any ‘Strategic Direction’.  He commanded all the Soviet military forces in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belorussia. The other Strategic Direction’s;  Northwestern, Southwestern and North Caucasus.

Western TVD:

Northern Group of Soviet Forces (Poland)

  • 20th Tank Division
  • 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • SSM Brigade (18 x Scud B)
  • SAM Brigade (27 x SA-4)
  • Attack Helicopter Regiment (40 x Mi-24 (Hind) and 20 x Mi-8)

Central Group of Soviet Forces (Czechoslovakia)

4 Guards Army and CGSF assets

  • 1st Guards Tank Division
  • 51st Tank Division
  • 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 30th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 48th Motor Rifle Division
  • Attack Helicopter Regiment
  • 3 x SSM Brigade (54 x Scud B)
  • Artillery Brigade (96 x 2S5)
  • Artillery Brigade (24 x 2S7 and 24 x 2S5)
  • SAM Brigade
  • Air Assault Battalion (17 x BMD)
  • Spetsnaz Battalion (250+)
  • Tank Brigade (150+ x T-80)
  • Anti-Tank Regiment (36 x Anti-Tank Guns and 27 x BRDM-3)

Southern Group of Soviet Forces (Hungary)

9 Guards Army + SGSF assets

  • 2nd Guards Tank Division
  • 13th Guards Tank Division
  • 93rd Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 253rd Motor Rifle Division
  • Attack Helicopter Regiment
  • Artillery Brigade (96 x 2S5)
  • 3 x SSM Brigade (18 x Scud B)
  • Rocket Regiment (54 x BM-21)
  • 2 x SAM Brigade
  • Air Assault Battalion (17 x BMD)
  • Spetsnaz Battalion
  • Anti-tank Regiment
  • Artillery Brigade (24 x 2S7 and s4 x 2S5)

Baltic Military District (HQ in Kaliningrad, Russia.)

Category B Division 30-50% readiness

Category C Division 5-10% readiness.

11th Guards Army (HQ in Kaliningrad, Russia.)

  • 15th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 40th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 1st Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)
  • 3rd Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat C)

14th Combined Arms Army (HQ in Kaunas, Lithuania)

  • 24th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 26th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat C)
  • 88th Motor Rifle Division (Cat C)
  • 107th Guards Motor Rifle Division

Baltic MD Assets

  • 7th Guards Airborne Division
  • 44th Guards Airborne Division (Training Unit)
  • Baltic Naval Infantry Brigade
  • 129th Artillery Division
  • 344th Artillery Division
  • Spetsnaz Naval Brigade
  • 32nd Air Assault Brigade

Belorussian Military District (HQ in Minsk, Belarus)

5th Guards Tank Army (HQ in Babrujsk, Belarus)

  • 6th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 8th Guards Tank Division
  • 22nd Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 29th Tank Division (Cat B)

7th Guards Tank Army (HQ in Barysau, belarus)

  • 3rd Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 34th Guards tank Division (Cat B)
  • 37th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 47th Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 58th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)

28th Combined Arms Army HQ in Grodno, Belarus)

  • 8th Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 45th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 50th Guards Motor Rifle Division Cat B)
  • 120th Guards Motor Rifle Division

BMD Assets

  • 3 x Tank Brigades (150+ x T-64/T-80
  • Motor Rifle regiment
  • Artillery Brigade
  • Air Defence Regiment
  • Attack Helicopter Regiment
  • Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 103rd Airborne Division
  • 3rd Guards Artillery Division
  • 5th Artillery Division
  • 31st Air Assault Brigade

Carpathian Military District (HQ in L’vov, Ukraine)

2nd Guards Tank Army (HQ in Zhytomyr)

  • 23rd tank Division
  • 17th Motor Rifle Division (Cat C)
  • 66th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)
  • 117th Guards Tank Division (Cat C)

13th Combined Arms Army (HQ in Rovno, USSR)

  • 13th Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 15th Tank Division
  • 24th Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)
  • 97th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat C)

38th Combined Arms Army (HQ in Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine)

  • 30th Guards Tank Division (Cat B)
  • 61st Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)
  • 70th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)
  • 128th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Cat B)

CMD Assets

  • 3 x Tank Brigades (150+ x T-64/T-80)
  • Motor Rifle Regiment
  • Artillery Brigade
  • Air Defence Regiment
  • Attack Helicopter Regiment
  • Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 36th Artillery Division
  • 81st Artillery Division
  • 37th Air Assault Brigade

Group of Soviet Forces Germany (HQ in Magdeburg)

The main striking force was the Group of Soviet Forces Germany, GSFG, commanded by the man below, Army General Mikhail Zaitsev.

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Army General Mikhail Zaitsev – Commander of the Group of Soviet Forces Germany – at the Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten – 1982

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GSFG was a significant force consisting of:

8 Guards Army (HQ in Weimar – Nohra – German Democratic Republic, GDR.)

  • 79th Guards Tank Division
  • 27th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 39th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division

1 Guards Tank Army (HQ in Dresden, GDR)

  • 9th Tank Division
  • 11th Guards Tank Division
  • 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division

2 Guards Tank Army (HQ in Neubrandenburg, GDR)

  • 16th Guards Tank Division
  • 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division
  • 21st Motor Rifle Division
  • 207th Motor Rifle Division

20 Guards Tank Army (HQ in Eberswalde, GDR)

  • 32nd Tank Division
  • 25th Tank Division
  • 35th Motor Rifle Division
  • 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division

3 Shock Army (HQ in Magdeburg, GDR)

3rd Shock Army was the force that was most likely to have gone up against the Northern Army Group, in particular BAOR/I British Corps.

I shall show a more detailed breakdown of this particular Army.

  • 7th Guards Tank Division
  • 10th Guards Tank Division
  • A typical Tank Division would consist of: 10GTD

61 Guards Tank Regiment  (90+  x T-80, 40+ x BMP-2, 2S6, SA-13 and 18 x 2S1)

62 Guards Tank Regiment  (90+  x T-80, 40+ x BMP-2, 2S6, SA-13 and 18 x 2S1)

63 Guards Tank Regiment  (90+  x T-80, 40+ x BMP-2, 2S6, SA-13 and 18 x 2S1)

248 Guards Motor Rifle Regiment (40 x T-80, 142 x BMP-2, 2S6, SA-13, BRDM -3 and 18 x 2S1

744 Guards Artillery Regiment (48 x 2S3 and 18 x BM-21

SS-21 battalion (4 x SS-21)

359 Guards Air Defence Regiment (20 x SA-15 and 21 SA-7/14/16

112 Independent Reconnaissance Battalion (6 x T-80, 13 x BRDM 2, 13 x BMP-2 and BRM)

Helicopter Squadron (6 x Mi-24 (Hind), 6 x Mi-8 (Hip) and 6 x Mi-2 (Hoplite))

131 Independent Engineer Battalion (TMM, GSP, PMP, K-61, BTM, MTK and GMZ)

152 Independent Signals Battalion

127 Independent Chemical Protection Battalion

1072 Independent Supply Battalion

60 Independent Repair Battalion

188 Independent Medical and Sanitary Battalion.

  • 12th Guards Tank Division
  • 47th Guards Tank Division
  • 3rd Shock Attack Helicopter Regiment (40 x MI-24 Hind, 20 x MI-8 Hip)
  • 3rd Shock Air Assault Battalion (17 x BMD)
  • 3rd Shock Spetsnaz Battalion (25+ teams of approximately 10 men.)
  • 3o4th Artillery Brigade (3 x Battalions (24 x 2S5 each battalion)
  • 3rd Shock SSM Brigade (18 x ScudB surface to surface missiles.)
  • 3rd Shock Rocket Regiment (54 x BM-21. each capable of launching 40 x 122mm rockets)
  • 3rd Shock Engineer Brigade (TMM, MTU, PMP, GSP, K-61, BTM, GMZ and MTK)
  • 36th Pontoon Bridging Regiment (TMM, PMP, K-61 and BTM)
  • 3rd Shock Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 3rd Shock SAM Brigade (27 x SA-4 Ghecko)

Notes:

  1. All 10 of the Tank Divisions in East Germany were beefed up with an additional Tank Regiment – an addition of over 100 tanks each
  2. All 9 of the Motor Rifle Divisions had been given an additional tank battalion of over 40 tanks each.
  3.  2 Guards Tank Army, facing northern Germany and Schleswig-Holstein was given an additional 3 Independent Tank Regiments giving them a further 450 main battle tanks to wield at NATO.
  4. Each Division has 4 x Artillery Battalions (50% 152mm and 50% 122mm)

GSFG Assets

  • 34th Artillery Division (3 x Howitzer Brigades (72 x 2S3 each Brigade), 1 x Heavy Brigade (72 x 2S7 each), 1 x Heavy Brigade (24 x 2S7 + 24 x 2S5) and 1 x Missile Brigade (72 x BM-27).
  • 4 x Motor Rifle Battalions
  • 1 x Tank Battalion (40 x T-80’s)
  • 2 x SSM Brigade (18 x SS-23 each)
  • 35th Air Assault Brigade
  • Engineer Brigade
  • 2 x SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) Brigades (one with 27 x SA-4 and one with 27 x SA-5)
  • 1 x SAM Regiment (20 x SA-15)
  • 1 x Spetsnaz Brigade (Between 1500 and 2000 men. Split into teams of 50-150 special forces.)

Western TVD Assets:

  • 72 x SS-22 Surface to Surface missiles, range of 600+ miles, capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead. (Stationed in the GDR)
  • 36 x SS-22 Surface to Surface missiles, range of 600+ miles, capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead. (Stationed in the Czechoslovakia)
  • 90 x SS-23 Surface to Surface missiles, range of 300+ miles, capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead. (Stationed in the GDR)

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Below, some of the Warsaw Pact Equipment NATO would be up against.

Soviet T-72 Main Battle Tank. 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun. Snorkel can be seen attached, allowing the tank to ford rivers.

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Weighs 41.5 tons.

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Steel and composite armour.

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It was far too expensive to equip the Soviet Divisions with the T-64, so a cheaper alternative was introduced. 

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Crew of 3. 25,000 were built.

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37mph with a range of 430 miles with fuel drums fitted on the back.

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Autoloader replaced one of the crew. Expected to load 8 rounds per minute.

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It had a comprehensive nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection ystem.

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T-72

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T-72.

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The T-72 was short on room inside as a consequence of its very low profile.

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Torsion bar suspension.

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V-12 diesel 780 hp engine.

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On parade in East berlin in 1984.

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This is the East German, export version, T-72M.

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It was called the ‘monkey model’ and had thinner armour and downgraded weapons systems.

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T-72M, East Berlin 1984.

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Soviet ACRV M 1974(2).

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Artillery Command & Reconnaissance Vehicle.

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Designed and built to operate with the 2S3 and 2S5 122mm and 152mm self-propelled artillery systems.

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The hull is of all-welded steel armour construction, protecting the crew for small arms fire and shell splinters. It has three roof-mounted day periscopes and a roof mounted swivelling periscope.

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The commander and driver are seated at the front of the vehicle with to large windows which can be covered by armoured shutters.

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Single door in the rear of the hull.

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Powered by a diesel engine.

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ACRV’s on route to East Berlin – 1984.

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ACRV’s on parade in East Berlin – 1984

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ACRV on the move

Future posts will cover the Warsaw Pact,  the Soviet likely strategy and the Airborne and Spetsnaz force.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my research and experiences with you.  This is the first of my new ‘Cold War’ series, supporting the writing of my new ‘Cold War’ series of novels, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s. ‘The Red Effect’. so keep your eyes peeled.

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

The equipment Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Berlin, the Cold War Years. A Hot War in reality. – Part 2.

At the end of World War 2, what remained of pre-war Germany was divided into four sectors of occupation. Each of the Allied powers; the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, controlled one of them.

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into four sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Sector of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between the City of Berlin and the West. The main access point for the three Western Allies was the famous ‘Checkpoint Charlie’. I transited through that point on numerous occasions at all hours of the day and Night. Now it no longer exists and is merely a tourist site.

Checkpoint Charlie – 1983

Checkpoint Charlie – February 2102

As I previously stated in Part 1, I had an Intelligence gathering role while serving in Berlin. On my recent visit, I landed at Schonefeld Airport, which up until reunification was in East Berlin. Below was my previous visit to the Airport, trapped in the runway lights by the VOPO, Volkspolitzei. There was no ‘Virgin’ airhostess coming to my rescue.

 

Caught napping again, this time by the Volkspolitzei amongst Schonefeld runway lights – 1983

I particularly enjoyed my visit to the Reichstag, on this occasion able to see it from the inside. During reconstruction, it was practically gutted, being redesigned by the British architect, Sir Norman Foster. The new glass dome is truly impressive, erected on the roof as a gesture to the original 1894, cupola.

Reichstag – February 2012

Supporting structure for the glass dome, the German Parliament sits directly below – February 2012

Parliament seats directly below

Not all of the original internal walls were demolished, and a few, covered in graffiti scrawled by victorious Russian soldiers once the Reichstag had fallen, still remain.

One section of many, showing graffiti left by Russian troops on capturing the Reichstag – Feb 2012

The Reichstag. Note the “Berlin Wall’ in the background – 1983

The fourth member of the ‘Allied Powers’ was naturally the Soviet Union. Below is one of the Soviet memorials close to the Reichstag.

Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten. – February 2012

There was very much a sinister side to the Soviet Union at that time. Army-General Mikhail Zaitsev, commander of the Group of Soviet Forces Germany, GSFG, seen attending a Ceremony at the Soviet Memorial, Tiergarten, the big man in the middle, was in command of one of their key forces. GSFG would be assigned to any likely attack on the NATO Alliance and the potential invasion of West Germany. Consisting of some 20 Divisions made up of over 4,000 tanks and 8,000 armoured vehicles, it was a phenomenal force. But, behind that were well over 140 other Soviet tank and Infantry divisions, albeit of a lower quality.

Being a part of the Warsaw Pact Alliance, they could also call upon significant forces from Poland, East Germany, Romania, Hungary and more. When I cut my teeth in the army serving with an Armoured Brigade in northern Germany, it wasn’t a question of if they were coming across the Inner German Border, but when.

Commander of the GFSG, at the Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten – 1982

Part of my role in Berlin in the early 80’s, was to track the movement of Russian and East German forces.

 

East German FROG 7, missile carrier, being moved by rail – 1982

Soviet Infantry on exercise – 1981

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RM-70, the East German equivalent of the Russian BM-21 – 1983

On completion of my tour, one of my team wrote a song for me, to the tune of  ‘Country Roads’. It was a privilege to serve with such a specialist unit.

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The majority of us are aware of the atrocities carried out by the Nazis during WW2, so I particularly wanted to see the Memorial to the Jewish dead.  It wasn’t built without controversy.

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe – Berlin February 2012

 Some felt the memorial should have looked very different, others were concerned it was very close to where Hitler’s bunker had been and their was controversy concerning the manufacturers involved in the project and potential links with the Nazis regime during WW2.

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and experiences with you. 

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Berlin, The Cold War Years – A Hot War in reality. Part 1.

At the end of World War 2, what remained of pre-war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. Each of the Allied powers; the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, controlled one of them.

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into four sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Berlin Sectors

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence, restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin was completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Wall

Remains of the Berlin Wall and ‘Death Strip’ –February 2012

During my time in Berlin in the 80’s, I was one member of a small army intelligence unit that had the task of monitoring Soviet and East German activity in the Eastern Sector of Berlin. In February 2012, I returned to Berlin again, after a gap of 25 years; I would like to share with you some of my experiences.

Brandenburg Gate1

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Brandenburg Gate 2

Brandenburg Gate –February 2012

As you can see from these recent photographs of the Brandenberg Gate, the general public now has free access to both sides of this unique monument. On the day I took these photographs a protest was in progress right next to it, unheard of back in the 80’s. By the way, West Berliners don’t normally dress as Monks and wear white face masks.

Brandenburg Gate 3

Brandenburg Gate -­‐ 1983

As this photograph, from the early 80’s, shows access to the monument was prohibited and the Berlin Wall is in plain view.

During the Cold War, there was very much a dark side to East Berlin. Although I had seen the Soviet Special Camp and Ministry of State Security (Stasi) Remand Prison from the outside in the 80’s, on my recent visit I was able to see it from the inside.

Stasi Prison

Outside the walls of the Stasi Prison, Genslerstrasse, Berlin – February 2012

VOPO
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Blocked in by VOPO’s, early 80’s

Although we endeavoured to gain access to all areas, we were often boxed in by the VOPO’s, Volkspolizei, who frequently tried to detain us and often blocked us in, sometimes covering our vehicle in blankets.

Stasi Water

Stasi Prison-­‐water torture cell – February 2012

For this particular site, the Stasi Prison, it was obvious why they didn’t want us near it. The above photograph shows the instrument used for water torture.

Stasi Van

Vehicle used to transport and disorientate Stasi prisoners –February 2012

When arrested, they were driven around Berlin in a sealed vehicle for up to 4 hours to disorientate them. Bear in mind the prisoners were on Remand and had not, as yet, been convicted. They were basically held until such times as they signed a confession, then taken to court and sentenced.

Stasi Cell

Padded cell for isolating the prisoners – February 2012

In the padded isolation cells, as above, the prisoners were held incommunicado. There was even a traffic light system in the corridor to ensure prisoners never met.

T62

Russian T-­‐62 tank, East Berlin -­‐ 1982

When monitoring Soviet troop movements such as these, the reaction was often far more violent. On one occasion, our vehicle rammed side on, so hard and pushed along sideways, that the tyres were ripped off the wheels. And on one occasion, I was personally dragged out of my vehicle and beaten up by Soviet and KGB troops.

BMP1

Russian BMP-­‐1, East Berlin – 1982

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black