Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Cold War.

When i was in front of a classroom with kids from the age about 16 years during my young veteran presentation about my mission in the Middle East i was suprised by the lack of knowledge about our recent history. My story always begins with 1985, the time when i was 18 and entering the military service (draft).
I always explain that the situation then was totaly different from the situation now.

The end of World War Two divided centrall Europe in two parts.
The free and democratic Western part and the communist eastern part. It was the time when the western countrys secured there freedom with the NATO membership. An attack on one of them was an attack on all of them. The communists kept their borders closed because the people from the east wanted to go to the free and democratic west.

To keep the people in they created the Berlin wall and on a greater scale the Iron curtain armed with border gards which fired on people which wanted to escape.

In the millitary there was a continious threat of nuclear attacks, both sides kept great numbers of weapons, called the arms race.

A nuclear explosion
Civil Defence, shelter at home.
To protect civilian targets most governments gave instructions to the people how they could protect themselve (Civil Defence), in Holland there was the BB organisations which had a image problem which was linked to  Dads Amry (old men in silly outfits).
Soldiers learned how they could identifie the enemy with pictures in their handbook .
The frontpage from a USSR defence news paper.

A typical Cold War tank was the German build Leopard main battle tank, no modern elctronics these days which ables a modern tank to drive and fire at the same time. enjoy the clip.

The reality with tension between east and west.
The iron curtain and the Berlin wall .

To stop the outgoing flow of people which wanted to live in the democratic west and wanted to escape from the supressing Communist one party system in the DDR, the DDR build a wall in the eastern part of Berlin and later this was a part of what Churchill called an Iron curtain from the Baltic to the Adriatic (see the map above).

The guards at the wall had permission to shoot and they posted two men on a watchtower which came from different parts of the DDR. In this way they tried to hold them in and the communist system had a secret service (Stasi) which build up massive archives about all the details from the men and women in the DDR.

But thousends of people tried to escape from this system.
A world famous escape is from Conrad Schumann.

Conrad Schumann jumped on 15 aug 1961 three days after the DDR started with "the anti fashist barrier to protect the DDR".
In the propaganda from the East the barrier was promoted as a victory.

But Conrad knew better and jumped to the free West.

This picture has become iconic for the Cold War and a divided Europe in a free Western part and a Communist Eastern part.
The picture was made by Peter Leibing with an East German (!) Exakta camera.

The picture was made on the junction Bernauer Stasse and
Ruppiner Strasse.

Conrad Schumann after the jump. (19 years old)

Its sad that his mother reported his letters to the East German secret service after he jumped to the West.
Conrad suffered also from depressions and hanged himself at the age of 56 in 1998.

In remembrence of the jump in 1961 this silver soldier was made
and placed in Berlin in 2009.


Today at the Military Event in Assen, DDR army vehicle GAZ.

The borderguard with license to shoot

Cold War Civil Defense (Dutch BB) with Magirus air cooled
diesel engine, the tools and equipment truck.

Dads Army ?

The fuction from a person in a city was
visable near to the front door of a house
The Navy flag from the Sovjet fleet.


The Royal Dutch navy.
The impressive HNMS. battleship De Ruyter.

HNMS De Ruyter (C801) with his impressive looks which are linked to the great battleships of World War Two has a history which goes back to 1939.
They started the building of this impressive ship in 1939 but it was not finished because of the German invasion in 1940.
The lessons from World War Two made it necessary to change
the design and in 1953 this ship was ready for action.
The black and white pictures are from the information
publication from the Royal Dutch Navy (1969)
Published by De Alk N.V. Alkmaar Holland.
Showing the flag.
If you want to make a point : send the Navy !

The Royal Dutch navy had two of this impressive Battleships.
The C 802, HNMS. De Zeven Provincien
was upgraded with support from the USA
during the mutual assistance programme with
a anti aircraft Terrier rocket installation
on the backside deck.

The Terrier anti aircraft installation.

Launching the rocket.

An other important task during
the cold war was the anti submarine
action with special ships, and
with operations from the air. 

Two long distance Navy airplanes which where very capable for this anti submarine task where (left) the Lockheed Neptune and the Breguet Atlantic (right), build in cooperation with the NATO members France, West-Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

For the short distance the Grumman Trackers where available, very well known on US Aircraft carriers for a lot of years.

Grumman S-2A Tracker in action.


Static defence works

We can still find traces of Cold War history in the field.
In the northern part of Holland you can find an impressive bunker
complex restored by the foundation Kornwerderzand.
The building of this complex started in 1931 as part of the
waterdefence works, therfore they could use the best materials
and modern design.

With the German attack in may 1940 this defence works
could stop the attack in cooperation with  navy canons
from ships north of the complex.

During the German occupation, the Germans used this
complex for their defence against a Allied atack
and made some modifications.
This bunker with the rare camouflage patern was build
for a anti tank canon.

After the Second World War this complex was still in use
for the defence against the Russian bear from the east
during the Cold War.
Sherman tank turrets where used
to improve firepower.

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