tv Washington Journal 11092019 CSPAN November 9, 2019 8:57am-9:33am EST
from the west german foreign minister. i answered the phone and said hello. before he could come on the line his secretary said, mr. secretary, i have the minister for you. before i put them on the line, may i just say to you god bless america. i found it to be in a moving time and moving statement and moving event. host: secretary james baker from the baker institute, thank you for your time in your memory. back in the berlin wall gallery in washington, d.c. time for a few more of your calls, your memories from the daily berlin wall fell. elizabeth, thanks for waiting in maryland. caller: good morning. i want briefly to say i experienced east germany from west germany as we fled from
east germany into west germany. almostppened was until 1989, the news for the east germans was tightened more and more. wethe 1950's and 1960's could send clothing and packages to east germany for the people because they did not have very much. eventually we had to send new clothing. i sent american dollars when i came to this country in carbon paper to east germany so the woman could buy some groceries. i experience the hungarian revolution. that berlin or east germany would become free. i have a person in east germany
that i called and he was very drunk because he never thought the wall would come down. i never thought it did. i cried and cried and cried. i had visited east germany in 1959 with [speaking german] .e traveled to various cities the people that housed us, that gave us meals, they were so thrilled, and i don't know how they afforded food in 1959. to feed us. and the best menus restaurants you could go to. for me, germany was united. , but born in east russia .o me, germany united is a gift
that's all it is. host: elizabeth, thanks for your call and memories from 30 years ago and belonged -- and beyond. newusem.m -- the you may see the public behind the scenes this morning with us as we continue the discussions. d.c.is paul in washington, paul, good morning. caller: good morning and thank you for c-span. , and in washington, d.c. was 46 when the wall came down. byecall, vividly, a cartoon the cartoonist herblock that road for the washington post. herblock was quite a good artist. not quite at the level of daumier, but not bad.
he did a picture of a young german couple, the man was representing the west, the woman was representing the east, and they were looking at each other , and it wasze absolutely no doubt no words were necessary except for the caption with an indication of reunification happening. do you recall it and can you show it? host: i don't recall it, paul, but you mentioned the washington post. we have a long time washington post correspondent and reporter up next in just a moment. a stick around for that discussion. later, we will be joined by another author to discuss the history of germany post-berlin wall, but first, before we get to those interviews, more from nbc news special report that aired 30 minutes ago today. the focus in this part of the riposte -- the report on the escape tunnels used to get into
west berlin. announcer: in 1962, a documentary showed the tunnel under the wall to bring 59 feet -- people to freedom. >> every six feet, they planted and across them, a 4 x 4 which held up the wooden ceiling. the digger, the man with the beard, was a refugee himself. he had fled east germany after 4.5 years in a communist prison. now, he pulled the clay with a spade, twisting in a space three feet by three feet. barely roomier than a coffin. on thursday, september 13, they made their last inspection. in august, the builders of another tunnel had broken through into a cellar and looked into the eyes and gun barrels of communist police. some were killed and some were captured.
the first of the refugees would come. death was not the greatest danger. prison camps can be worse. the diggers watched his daughter come through. ♪ announcer: then, his wife. he had escaped from east germany the year before. his wife had spent 10 months in a communist prison for trying to put follow him -- trying to follow him and their second son was born in jail. tonight, for the first time, he held his baby. back in the berlin wall gallery in washington, d.c., author steve vogel joins us now for a conversation about a different kind of tunnel, this were not used for escape but for espionage. steve, good morning to you. explain what operation goal was.
in the yearsas before the wall was constructed, so at that time, berlin was an open city. you had people, divided city but open. , comingere in the east across the border tens of thousands per week and vice versa. toy visited friends, went jobs in the east and west, went shopping, but a lot of them were also involved in espionage. the u.s. and allies at that point had none of the later overhead technology that we come to expect, like the u-2 or satellites. a forest based in east germany that was -- that had more or less been there since the world war ii, and we had, on the west, little idea what we were up to. we had lost a source of
intercepted radio communications when the soviets had discovered we were intercepting the radio calls. we were more or less fighting the cold war blind. the british secret intelligence service and cia came up with this idea of digging a tunnel from west berlin into east berlin, not to help anybody get out, but to tap into soviet communication lines. berlin was the center of soviet communication, and you had these lines that connected the red army headquarters back into moscow and other points of eastern europe. arey important communications. they were across the border -- they were very important communications. they were across the border. host: steve vogel speaking on this. the true story of berlin's most audacious espionage operation. when it comes to operation goal, what is special? guest: that's the big question.
there are a lot of moving points. the most important moving part is a british spy named george blake who, at the time the tunnel was conceived, was one of the very few people in western intelligence either in the cia or the british sis who knew about the tunnel. agent also acting as an for the kgb. he had a remarkable life and was held prisoner in north korea for three years during the war there. it had turned at some point to -- he hadside, and turned at some point to the other side. he knew this tunnel was being planned and he got it to the kgb. but, the kgb was afraid to do anything because blake was one of literally a handful of western intelligent people that know about the tunnel. doing anything to stop the blake.would expose
this becomes a dilemma for the kgb. host: and that story in steve vogel's book. can you tell us about the city of berlin and its role in espionage battle throughout the cold war, and how that world changed after the wall went up. operation gold took place before 1960 one, before the wall went up. what changed when the wall went up -- 1961, before the wall went up. what changed when the wall went up? guest: berlin was the capital of espionage in the world. you have people across, east and west, they could carry information, meet with -- in a safe house with their cia handlers, and vice versa. at one point, along with vienna, to a lesser extent, where you had all four of the powers, the bridget's -- british, soviets, and americans together. they were behind the iron curtain, and this was the one
place where we had a window view into the soviet union and satellites. the tunnel was one of the ways they came up to get that information -- came up with to get that information. you had, by some estimates, as many as 10,000 people involved in espionage operations and berlin. he couldn't walk down the street properly without running into someone. that all depended on the free access, taking -- access. one of the problems the east germans had was that they were losing so many people. only refugees were coming into the west, in other words, taking the transport across a never coming back. that was a big problem. espionage was another issue the kgb tried to clack down on that crackdown on. when the wall was built, all of , wedden, almost overnight
lose this free access that we were unable to get most of the information that we were able to get prior to the wall being built. it is no longer the espionage center that it was during the 50's, which was its heyday. host: espionage, berlin, and the berlin wall is our focus for this segment of "washington journal" here at the berlin wall gallery at the museum at the time of the day where the newseum comes alive. you can see people around the exhibit as we continue our discussion as you call in. this is rob from phoenix, arizona. rob, you are on with steve vogel. caller: good morning, john and steve. i have a couple anecdotal stories i would like to tell about when i was in berlin. i was in west berlin after the wall, and had a girlfriend there who told me stories about what it was like to grow up there, and she said all of the young
girls would go to meet the guards at the different sectors, the tommies and armies, french, and they would get their first kiss from a soldier guard in those sectors, but funny things happen to her. she said she cried when the wall went down because she said it is our wonderful wall, because it gave them a special life in west berlin that people only experience because of the wall, and not all of the interest in berlin. those are a couple little stories i remember. i have a lot more, but i will leave it at that. host: rob, thanks. steve vogel spent a lot of time and was born in berlin. caller: right. the wall almost created a time capsule in the east. if you are able to go across through checkpoint charlie into the east those years, it's like moving back in time. partly because so much of the world war ii debris was still
still theret was had been cleaned up, but it was a simpler existence over there. to some extent, it has been romanticized since the years -- in the year since the wall came down, and there's a great mental divide between easterners and westerners in terms of how they look at a unified germany, but it was a remarkable place, being born there. the wall was put up one year after i was born. my dad used to joke that they built it to keep me out. [laughter] host: and you were there not long after the wall came down. arrivedyeah, no, i had in germany in september of 1989 to work with a freelance journalist for the washington post in army times and other publications. thes in munich on the night wall came down. i was sitting in my apartment
watching tv in germany to try to -- in german to try to improve my german. the talking horse, mr. ed, was on. they broke into a script saying the wall is falling. i got on the first plane i could to get to berlin and went straight to checkpoint charlie, which was a madhouse. streams of people coming over. the mps were more or less joining in the party. usually it was strict and sober minded as a place, but at that point, people were running around with champagne and schnapps and the guards much threw up their hands. it was a joy to see. do as ado you journalist, where do you turn to in that moment? caller: you try to find ordinary people and talk to the germans coming over. i try to talk to the mps themselves. these were kids from all across america, and none of them had seen this coming.
they were caught up in the moment, and feeling the joy. one of them said we are part of history now, we are right here doing this. i also looked for some of the brash -- brass like general haddock. you sort of get the view from the -- you try to get the view from the top and he is trying to portray that everything remained calm, nothing is changing here, kind of this status quo, but there was all this evidence all around that it really wasn't the status quo. host: back to the phone lines on the phone line for german-americans. this is charlotte, north carolina. good morning. caller: good morning. i'm german through my father's side of the family who started coming over here in 1860's and 1870's, but we are all together. i was stationed in germany in the military in the 70's, and we
were facing 30,000 soviet warsaw pacttanks -- warsaw tanks. that'sy was to stop massive armor in the event of war. we also had a terrorist problem. two gangs were active during that time. it was common to see german police running around with submachine guns. but theyclean country, had problems back then. host: bruce, thank for sharing your memories. guest: absolutely. terrorists were a big fear at that point for sure. the american soldiers there were sometimes targets of that. there was the famous bombing at the berlin disco that was later
to it, and i remember going out on patrols with some of the , near theoldiers folded gap. this was two weeks before the wall came down. the tension that existed, the feeling that they were at the tip of the spear, that any moment you could have an attack launched, was very real for those guys. i talked to these guys later, after the walking down, and you had the second army cavalry regiment, and it took a long time for them to accept that the world was changing. host: how concerned where they that russia was going to respond with some sort of military response after the wall came down? guest: that was a concern, but signals that are coming into washington from moscow and elsewhere was that gorbachev
would not do something like that. but, that didn't mean the guys down on the front line didn't have to worry about it, because things can turn out differently than what they are being told from washington or moscow or wherever. they were very much on guard for that initial time in the you do,n on whether -- within a year or two, have an attempted coup in the soviet union, so things could have changed quickly and people were aware of that. host: this is penny in new york. good morning. penny, are you with us this morning? caller: i'm sorry, it's bernie. host: bernie, go ahead. caller: i called in because i was born in germany, during the war, and i afterwards ended up living in east germany, the worker's paradise. at some point, my parents had family in the states, my father's mother, and immigrated
here in the 20's and had established himself in upstate new york. they decided to seriously -- they couldn't flee east germany, and let me just mention how we managed to get out. earlier --k to the this was in 1956, we left five years before the wall was established. what happened at the time is permit mother received a for her and myself to go west to germany to visit a sister that lived there. the communists gave us that currently, but my father had to stay behind. he was not allowed to come with us. ifuspect that's because all three of us left, they knew we would not be coming back. my mother and i went on vacation, and before the four weeks expired, we should have
took a case father and made it look like he was on a business trip, had a permit from his workplace to go to berlin, one of his supervisors gave him that slip at some risk. he arrived in berlin in the russian sector, and i don't know if he used the subway or the taxi, whatever, but moved over into the american sector, which and hed an airfield, flew out to west berlin, and that is how we were reunited. we then applied to come to the states and it all worked out well. so, i have been living here for 60 years. host: thanks for sharing your families story. what do you take from that? guest: there are so many stories like that, so many remarkable stories. some are seldom successful.
being wall was constructed, some people took that chaotic time to make an escape. quickly after that, the east germans began sealing off all of the different escape routes and tricks people were using to get across. you had families that were , in many cases, wouldn't reach it for many years. there were moments of real joy of people escaping and moments of tragedy. i remember the daughter of the farmer under whose land the espionage tunnel was built. by that point, it had been dug up. she and her friends used to wish -- they still have the tunnel down there that they could use to escape into west berlin. host: steve vogel, our guest, brick trail in berlin -- betrayal in berlin.
we've been talking about operation gold along with your memories, your thoughts on the legacy of the berlin wall, 30 years after the fall of the wall . this is penny in new york. caller: can you hear me? host: yes, ma'am. 47.er: i'm my grandfather was a world war ii hero. seven combat jumps. i was, on november 9, i was living in western pennsylvania. i was going to a city and rounds ville, pennsylvania, and i applied to a program called open door, so i ended up being an abbasid to representing western pennsylvania for the united states of america in germany. -- abbasid or representing western pennsylvania for the united states of america in germany. we left d.c.
when you are interviewing george bush, i remember our first two months in cologne. we were all told to go to the embassy and george bush got on the line and said, you know -- it was very heartfelt when he said this to us. he said i can't recommend that or that for the year, you come home. he also said if you stay, i ashly recommend that you act a german, because that was our job. i wanted to promote freedom, and teach the countries on how to be free. even my grandfather never wanted me to go. the day before i got on the plane, he said please don't go and i said i will promote freedom. heart, so healing to my this program. i appreciate all of it because i have so many memories. i'm writing a book, and this is so encouraging to me, because
for 10 months, i was in hamburg, germany and i got to go to berlin often. i got to be -- to teach the berlin bloc countries in , with a company called cardos. i did hair when i was over there too so i got to do a lot of different things. with soment the day east germans on the east berlin side, it was so joyous. the people were so loving and caring. the whole time i was over there, for the whole year, everyone was so joyous, but unfortunately, we did have that on our backs where people wanted to kill us because we were american. your thanks for sharing stories and memories this morning. steve vogel, your thoughts on that and how long you ended up staying in germany and berlin after the fall of the wall. guest: i completely understand
that emotion and that feeling. i ended up -- i was only going to stay in germany for two months to try my hand at freelancing, and all of a sudden, you have this revolution on your hand. the berlin wall begins triggering all of these other huge ramifications, leading quickly to unification. i ended up staying for five years. the pace of the change here, both for germany, all of europe, and for the united states, which had this large force in germany, and there is all of a sudden the questions about what happens to the american president -- presence in europe. then, you have these things like the gulf war breaking out, and these forces in germany are sent out to cover that. this is a transformation in america's role centered in europe, and you had all of these issues in germany that pop up,
the rise of right-wing radicalism as refugees continued to stream into germany, kind of the same issues we see today. that was all happening quickly. host: this is mary out of batesville, arkansas. good morning. caller: hi. in 1974, i was with the uso and we were in germany for about a month because there were so many [indiscernible]over there. we got to ride the duty train through east germany to berlin and we were told not to look out the window because they will shoot you. you're not supposed to look at the guards when we stopped at the train, all of the different stations, but of course we did. it was quite -- i have a lot of pictures and i often think about that. i get them out and look at it, because it was so, so awful. it was awful.
i enjoyed my time there. chic. was so tray they had discos, the fashion sector, and it was across the place.his bleak, cold and across the wall, it was this bleak, cold place. host: our next caller. caller: thank you for taking my call. my family was in the service and down,and when it all came yeah, it was surreal in a sense, but it was also kind of expected. .t the lower level it was started over in poland really, and the way it spread and, believe it or not, the
influence of american soldiers all over that area, they loved our style. i'm talking western style. look at what happened. -- the whole area got better, but i'm looking at it this way, that there's a lot to be appreciated about what the americans have done, and what nato did, and the way nato is getting stepped on now is kind of interesting. anyways, i appreciate that. .vita zhang host: steve vogel, your thoughts. guest: both of the calls were interesting. onrding nato, we look back 30 years ago and there was a great division in germany about
the presence of nato. some people were happy to have the western forces over there, but there was a lot of antagonism over the years, damage being done by u.s. troops training. you get the feeling that it was an occupation, but it is funny, berlin was one of the places where the american troops were always welcomed. it was very little of the anti-american feeling that you might experience elsewhere in germany. in berlin, there was appreciation that they were this island in the middle of east germany, and without having western presence there things could have turned out very differently. the previous caller was discussing that it would a -- it was a tense journey to travel from the west either from western germany into berlin. if you drive the audubon along the restricted routes, it was like traveling back in time again, and you did feel crossing
the border points with these huge guard towers and machine guns and all of that that it was a different time. host: you talk about tense moments. i want you to bring it back to operation gold and the days after the tunnel was discovered on the eastern side of east berlin. we have a picture of a press conference i believe that was held by the east germans after they found the tunnel. explain what the reaction was. guest: it was a surprise for andyone because the cia british intelligence had assumed that once the tunnel was discovered, the soviets and east germans would keep it quiet because they would be embarrassed about the fact that western intelligence had tapped into their communication lines, but the kgb and soviets had a completely different idea. they wanted to embarrass the americans and use it as a
propaganda coup to prove that the americans are only using berlin as a nested -- nest of spies, and that they are here because of their espionage center. and look at this dirty tunnel this is an spy, outrage, a violation of german territory and sort both -- so forth. they had this press conference and invited every reporter in west germany. this was before cell phones, but they managed to get hundreds of reporters on the scene within half an hour. they took them to the site in the southern corner of the german americans soviet sector --german-american soviet sector. it was a sensation and people could not believe what they were seeing. there was a very sophisticated command center down there, like a battleship. they had an incredible amount of
taped conversations down there. host: it's a story you can read about in steve vogel's book, but trail in berlin, the true story of cold war's most audacious espionage operation. appreciate you telling part of that store this morning. guest: my pleasure. host: next on the "washington journal," we are joined with author hope harrison -- why author hope harrison to discuss the berlin wall falling. at first, more from the nbc news special report on november 9, 1989. this was the beginning of the 11:30 p.m. broadcast that evening. >> berlin, you are looking at a live picture of the berlin wall shortly before the dawn of a new day, a day that will see this border open to freedom for all. what you're seeing now is taking place at 5:30 in the morning, berlin time. these crowds, mostly young people, spent their whole night celebrating the opening of the wall, welcoming the tens of
thousands of east germans coming across from the east to the west. we are truly privileged tonight. we are eyewitnesses to history. who on either side of the berlin wall or in this country would have believed this morning that this day would end the way it of and with a very simple the division of europe, the division of the free world, becoming irrelevant. that is the result of the stunning to -- surprise decision by east germany leaders. east germany's -- germans may now cross into west germany directly, even through the berlin wall itself. [shouting] tonight, germans on both sides of the wall couldn't wait to test the new freedom. these were sites on thinkable only a few hours ago. the young westerman's top the concrete barrier moving to help the east germans up the wall. graffiti were once
where there was only despair. for 28 years, the wall has been an integral part of berlin life, something that was just there. tonight, it symbolizes something else, the failure of an east german government to resist the wave of change over soviet bloc nations and the sound new freedom, the chipping away of the wall itself. wall back in the berlin gallery at the museum in washington, d.c. we welcome hope harrison, the author of the book "after the berlin wall, memories in the making of the new germany, 1989 to present." hope harrison, on the first page, you note the history and meaning of the berlin wall remains controversial today in germany. why is that? guest: the big lessons of the wall, what it really was, some of the former leaders were still around and were vocal,