Spying in Berlin

Witness History

By BBC World Service

Spying in Berlin

Wednesday, 10 November

At the height of the Cold War the German city of Berlin was known as the spy capital of the world. Spies were operating on both sides of the Berlin Wall as tensions between democratic West Germany and communist East Germany meant governments on both sides of the ideological divide were desperate to find out what the other side was planning. In the early 1980s Nina Willner became the first female US army officer to lead intelligence missions into East Germany. For her there was an added poignancy to her work, as her mother’s family were living in East Germany while Nina was operating in East Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the divided family was reunited and Nina wrote a memoir, ‘Forty Autumns’ about their very different lives. Caroline Bayley spoke to Nina Willner for Witness History about her experiences of the Cold War in Berlin. Photo by Régis BOSSU/Sygma via Getty Images - The frontier between West and East Berlin.
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