The Cold War Years. A Hot War in reality. Part 3

I have just sent the third novel of my new ‘Cold War’ series, The Blue Effect, to my Editor. On target for a May publication. This will be the final book in the trilogy, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, encompasses the intelligence build up leading to the Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them. The Black Effect takes it to a new level. The Blue Effect? Well you will have to read it to find out.

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.

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Remains of the Berlin Wall. Berlin 2012.

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Remains of the Berlin Wall. Berlin 2012.

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An Iconic picture of the face-off between the West and the East.  The Cold War continues – October 1961

Another iconic picture of a GDR Border Guard fleeing across the barbed wire to the West -Berlin 1961.

I believe that this soldier has since died. May he rest in peace.

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I shall cover various aspects of the two opposing forces, providing the backdrop and background information in preparation for the release of my third Cold War novel. In the meantime, you could always read my WW2 series, Devils with Wings. 🙂

In 1984/85, the Warsaw Pact was already a significant force, the Soviet Union in particular.

The majority of the Strategic Nuclear forces for both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were very much land or submarine based. Although I need to cover the Strategic Airforce for both sides, for this post i want to cover another element of the nuclear arsenal available. During the 80’s another nuclear delivery means came into being, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Missile and the Tactical Nuclear Missile.

The Soviet Union had 378 x SS-20 (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, IRBM)

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SS-20 IRBM. 

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SS-20 was deployed from 1976 to 1988.

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NATO reporting name was SS-20, Sabre. Range of 3,400 miles and carried a warhead of 3 x 150 kiloton MIRVs.

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IRBM’s in NATO forces were attached to their ground forces rather than held back as a strategic force. Saying that, the decision to use them would sit with the highest political levels as the use of tactical nuclear weapons could well escalate to a full scale nuclear exchange.

United States – 4 x Pershing I/II SSM (Surface to Surface Missile) battalions and 8 x Lance SSM battalions.

United Kingdom – 1 x Lance SSM Missile Regiment (12 Lance)

Federal Republic of Germany – 4 x Lance SSM Battalions.

France – 18 x S-3 IRBM’s and 5 x SSM Regiments with Pluton.

Netherlands – 1 x SSM Battalion (4 x Lance).

Belgium – 1 x Lance SSM Battalion (4 x Lance).

Italy – 1 x Lance SSM Battalion (4 x Lance).

 Turkey – 4 x SSM Battalions with Honest John.

Greece – 2 x SSM Battalions with Honest John (8 x missiles).

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Pershing I, carried on its own TEL (Transporter, Erector and Loader). Range of 460 miles, it was very much a theatre nuclear weapon. It carried a range of nuclear warheads from 60 to 400 kilotons.

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Pershing II.  This weapon was developed as there was a requirement for a smaller warhead, but with greater accuracy. Theatre, or Tactical, nuclear weapons were coming of age. It had a range of 1,100 miles and a 5 to 80 kiloton warhead. For the first time there was a real risk of nuclear weapons being used on a conventional battlefield.

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MG-52 Lance was a mobile, tactical surface-to-surface missile.

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Although the United States and Britain would arm it with nuclear warheads,

it could also be used with conventional warheads.

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Range of 75 miles, a true tactical weapon.

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Carried a variety of warheads up to 100 kilotons.

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Honest-John was the first nuclear capable surface-to-surface missile in the United States arsenal.

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Honest-John, M-31, had a range of just over 15 miles and could carry a 20 kiloton warhead. It was also capable of carrying a Sarin nerve gas, cluster munitions.

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The S-3 was a two-stage, solid propellant Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. A range of 3,500 kilometres carrying a warhead of 1.2 megatons. It couldn’t function well as a battlefield tactical weapon.

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With its own TEL, Pluton was a Short-Range tactical Ballistic Missile (SRBM). A conventional, or a 15 or 25 kiloton nuclear warhead. It had an operational range of 80 miles.

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There were also the conventional forces lined up along the Inner German Border, the visible barrier between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or better known as West and East Germany. I shall be covering their organisation and equipment over the coming months.

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Leopard C1 Tank.

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Leopard 1, the Canadian variant.

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Leopard C1, Main Battle Tank. They had a 105mm, L7 gun, developed by Britain’s Royal Ordnance  Factories.

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Multi-fuel, 10 cylinder engine, 830 hp. 10-70mm of RHA armour, this tank was used by the Canadian Army.

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42.5  tons, crew of 4 and a top speed of 40mph.

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A 105mm gun was its main weapon, supported by 2 x 7.62mm MGs

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105mm rifled barrel.

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This was the preferred replacement for the British Centurion as the new Chieftain was seen as too powerful for anything other than a global conflict

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A great tank.

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Leopards on the move.

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

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’.

I have already started on the first of my Apocalyptic novels, based in the UK. Based on the aftermath of a strategic nuclear exchange, it will be hard hitting and realistic. I have also started the research for the fourth book in my Devils with Wings series, placing Max and Paul in ever more dangerous situations.

For those that have read my novels I tank you very much for your support. It is that support that encourages me to continue writing.

Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black

The Cold War. A Hot war in reality.  Part 1

I have completed the second novel of my new ‘Cold War’ series. There will be three books in total, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, will encompass the intelligence build up leading to the Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them. The Black Effect follows on……

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’.

.

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.

The badly damaged Reichstag. Berlin 1945

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An Iconic picture of the face-off between the West and the East.  The Cold War starts – October 1961

Another iconic picture of a GDR Border Guard fleeing across the barbed-wire to escape to West -Berlin (1961)

The Reichstag, showing the Berlin Wall in place behind it. – West Berlin 1981.

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

In 1984/85, the Warsaw Pact was already a significant force, the Soviet Union in particular. For this, and the next Post, I will cover the Soviet and NATO strategic inventory, which was being modernised by both the Warsaw Pact and NATO.

SS-19. In 1984/5, the Soviet Union had some 360 of these ICBM’s (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles), most of them of the mod. 3 variety, with 6 MIRV’s (Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles), basically multiple nuclear warheads. 

The SS-19, deployed in 1982, was 27 metres in length, 2.5 metres wide and weighed in excess of 100,000 kilograms. It had a two-stage liquid fuel propulsion system with a PBV (Post-Boost Vehicle for a hot launch) which gave it a range of up to 10,000 kilometres. Mod 3 would carry a 550 kiloton yield (MIRV), whereas the Mod 2, would carry a 5 megaton yield warhead.

Apart from the SS-19’s, the most modern ICBM in their armoury, the Soviet Union had 520 x SS-11, 60 x SS-13, 150 x SS-17 (many being deployed with 4 MIRV’s) and 308 x SS-18 (Being upgraded to carry 10 MIRV’s).

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Minuteman III missile inside its Silo, 60 miles from Grand Forks Air Base, late 1980.

NATO too, in particular the United States, modernised their nuclear arsenal in the race to reach a state of ‘mutual assured destruction’. NATOs strategy was dependent on the Soviet Union believing that NATO would respond with an all out, devastating nuclear response to any aggressive moves they might make, whether Nuclear or Conventional. The focus very much on the Iron Curtain hot spot that stretched along the Inner German Border.  There were many incidents that came close to inciting a nuclear exchange.

NATO’s strategic forces (I shall cover bombers and submarines at a later date) were underpinned by the United Staes, United Kingdom and France. The US had 450 x LGM-30F (minuteman II), 550 x LGM-30G with 3 MIRV (minuteman III) and 37 x Titan 2, phasing out by the end of 1987.

A minuteman III missile being launched. An ICBM, with a three-stage power plant, consisting of three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage – Thiokol; second stage – Aerojet-General; third stage – United Technologies Chemical Systems Division.

With a height of 18 metres, diameter of just under 2 metres it weighed significantly less than the SS-19, at 36,000 kilograms. But it still had a range of over 6,000 miles and could travel at a speed in excess of 15,000 mph, Mach 23! It carried a warhead of  170 kilotons, 350 kilotons or up to 450 kilotons. With three MIRV’s, this was capable of a significant punch.

The British and French nuclear forces were very much submarine and air launched (apart from tactical nuclear weapons), I will cover those at a later date.

There were also the conventional forces lined up along the Inner German Border, the visible barrier between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or better known as West and East Germany. I shall be covering their organisation and equipment over the coming months.

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The T-62 might be an old tank, but in the early days it was the mainstay of the Soviet Army.

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Weighing in the region of 40 tons, it could still travel at a top speed of nearly 50mph with its V-12, 38 litre engine.

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This one, on display in the Bovington Tank Museum,  was captured from the Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War.

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Infrared searchlight on the right of the turret, next to the 115mm main gun.

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These days the Infrared could easily be detected by modern equipment.

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A Soviet T-62 in East Berlin.  – East Berlin, 1984

 


t-54/55 on parade – East Berlin 1984

Although it can be classed as an insignificant tank, and maybe not even referred to as a Main Battle Tank, when up against T-64’s, T-72’s and T-80’s, it is still very much in use across the world. One thing I would like to point out, in 1984/5, the Soviet Union had 35,000 T-54/55/62’s in service. The British Army at that time had less than a 1,000 MBTs. Quality versus quantity? Would we have had enough ammunition?

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

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’.

Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Berlin, the Cold War Years – Part 4. A Hot War in reality.

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.

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.

Remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall – February 2012

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Remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall – February 2012

Having free, unhindered access to East Berlin and Museum Island was a real treat for me. Below is the Der Deutschen Kunst Museum, the House of Art Museum.

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Deutschen Kunst Museum – Berlin – February 2012 

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Deutschen Kunst Museum, Berlin. Joseph Goebbels visiting – 1937

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-H02648,_München,_Goebbels_im_Haus_der_Deutschen_Kunst.jpg

Also on the Island, the Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral. In the 1940’s, it suffered considerable damage from bomb blast waves and incendiaries. Over the years it has been slowly restored.

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Berliner Dom – February 2012

With my passion for military history, I naturally wanted to see this building below, Wilhelmstrasse 81-85. Luftwaffe Historians would know that in 1933, the newly formed Reich Aviation Ministry, headed by Hermann Goering, occupied it. The complex was demolished  in 1935 and was re-built.  The building you see today, with over 2,000 rooms.

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Wilhelmstrasse 81-85, Berlin – February 2012

The Bebelplatz is known as the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony held on the evening of the 10th May, 1933. Today, a memorial by Micha Ullman, consisting of a glass plate set into the cobblestones, shows empty book cases below.

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Bebelplatz, Berlin – February 2012

At the end of the day the GDR, and East Berlin, were occupied by the Soviet Union and their military were ever present.

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Russian T-62 driving passed a Kindergarten – East Berlin 1983

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There were ‘Restricted Areas’ where the Soviets preferred us not to go. We naturally ignored them. I got this one to take home as a souvenir.

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Russian helicopter taking an interest in us. Hip (Mi-8) – East Berlin 1983

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This one is a deadly Hind-D (Mi-24). The worlds first Attack Helicopter. East Berlin – 1983

Below are some photographs of the Treptow Soviet Memorial. Although the GDR was part of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviets were still very much an occupying power. The memorial below, to the Soviet soldiers killed in WW2,  is of a significant size.

Main entrance. The people give you an indication of its size. East Berlin – February 2012

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View from the main entrance. Note the vertical slabs either side – East Berlin, February 2012

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Each slab was carved with a scene depicting elements of WW2 – February 2012

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Treptow Park Memorial – East Berlin, February 2012

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The view looking back towards the entrance. East Berlin, February 2012.

For an interlude, I will share a few shots of my very first parachute jump. I did my jumps between my first tour in Northern Ireland and coming to Berlin. I completed my jumps with the Dutch Commandos, my first one landing on my feet, arse and head. Not quite the perfect roll I had anticipated.

Gulp, I’m ready. 1981

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Yes that is me. My chute did open.

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Yes you do have to carry your own chute back!

One key event that occurred every year, was the military parade to celebrate the formation of the GDR. This was naturally a key concern for the western allies. A country we didn’t officially recognise, holding a military parade on our doorstep. It was also an opportunity to disguise the movement of troops for a potential attack.

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Troops start to flood in on the outskirts of East Berlin – 1984

First one is a FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) 7 resupply, the second a FROG  7 TEL (Transporter, Erector, Launcher). FROG 7’s played a key part in the missile attacks on Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

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Ural 375 – East Berlin 1984

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Troops also arrived by rail – East Berlin – 1984

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BRDM at the front and two ACRV’s, Armoured Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle. East Berlin 1984

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Many of the troops were camped out at various parks and car parks on the outskirts. East Berlin 1984

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Night time operations were a regular part of our life, often staying out for days at a time. East Berlin 1984

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Posing shot…  – East Berlin 1984

Then the fun and games begin….

Can you spot him? East Berlin 1983

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See him now?

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And another.

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The VOPO were never far away. East Berlin 1984

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The more troops and equipment that arrived, the more reinforcements to make life difficult for us. East Berlin 1984

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Underside photographs were a key goal.  This one showing a mine plough attachment. Weld thickness would also help in determining the thickness of a tanks armour. East Berlin 1984.

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This is of a BMP-2, moving at the time. East Berlin 1984.

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The tensions steadily got worse. Don’t forget, we didn’t recognise the GDR government, let a alone the Police. West Berlin police had no authority over us either, as we were also an occupying power in West Berlin. East Berlin 1984.

The glasses were fashionable at the time!

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BMP-2, the latest MICV, Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle, in the GDR and Soviet arsenal. An AT-5, Spandrel anti-tank missile sits on top of the turret. East Berlin 1984.

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BMP 1. A close up of the AT-3, Sagger, anti-tank missile. The wire guided missile devastated

the Israeli tanks during the Yom Kippur War  – East Berlin 1984

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SA-13  Gopher, Surface to Air Missil carrier. – East Berlin  1984

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SA 8 Gecko, Surface to Air Missile carrier – East Berlin 1984

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T-72 tank, the latest in the GDR  Army, the NVA, National Volksarmee. East Berlin 1984.

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During the parade preparations they didn’t like us being around. A bit difficult when one of your team is six foot eight

and built like a brick wall. – East Berlin 1984

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SA 9 Gaskin, Surface to Air Missile, mounted on a BRDM 2. East Berlin 1984

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SA 4 Ganef. Surface to Air Missile, resupply vehicle.  Big! Flew at Mach 4 and could reach a height of 20 miles.

Now I know why I didn’t join the RAF (Best air force in the world). East Berlin 1984

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FROG 7 TEL,  East Berlin 1984.

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The German Navy was always in attendance. East Berlin 1984.

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Tatra 813 towing and M1974 artillery piece. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72 East Berlin 1984

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BMP -1, MICV with troops. One draw back was thin armour and fuel tanks in the back doors. East Berlin 1984

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Silkworm TEL, Surface to Ship Missile. East Berlin 1984.

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Silkworm missile resupply. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72. East Berlin 1984.

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T-72.  East Berlin 1984

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The military were pretty high tech, not so the cars. The famous Trabant.

One Trabant hit us and didn’t leave a mark, but the cars front end fell off. Berlin 2012.

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The VOPO, Volkspolitzei’s main mode of transport in the 80’s. Berlin February 2012.

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I shall finish off with an old photo of the ICC, the International Congress Centre. West Berlin 1982.

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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 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