Growing up in Cold War East Germany's Valley of the Clueless
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Henrik was born in the late 1960s near Dresden in East Germany. The area was sarcastically known as the Tal der Ahnungslosen or Valley of the Clueless, as the area generally was not able to receive TV from West Germany from the mid-to-late 1950s. He describes his childhood growing up in a Uranium mining area. His mother was a teacher and his father was required to be a member of the Communist Party as his role at the university involved in map making which was classified as secret work. It’s not until he is 8 or 9 that Henrik realises there is another Germany and as he gets older he gets into Western music as he can still pick up West German radio. In 1983 his favourite grandmother moved to the West and started to bring him Western clothing and vinyl records. At 15 or 16 he seriously starts to think about how he can get to the West. Compulsory service in the National Peoples Army beckons increasing his urgency in finding a way to leave. In 1988 Henrik receives an unexpected postcard from Spain from a friend who had been sentenced for 2 years for trying to escape and this begins to crystallise Henrik’s plans. 0:00 Introduction and background of Henrik 10:47 The role of Western radio and music in shaping Henrik's perception of the West 19:21 Importance of Western contact for East German citizens 29:45 Music censorship in East Germany 35:19 Henrik's first thoughts of leaving East Germany 47:34 Henrik's gap year and work in a data processing factory 52:08 News about friends sentenced for trying to escape 1:02:24 The impact of his escape on his family 1:06:24 Comparison of Stasi and Gestapo tactics 1:07:45 Closing remarks, mention of episode extras and soundtrack If Henrik's life was made into a movie he says this would be the soundtrack… Extra episode information Special thanks to Jonny Whitlam for introducing Henrik to CWC. You can book his excellent Berlin tours here The fight to preserve Cold War history continues and via a simple monthly donation, you will give me the ammunition to continue to preserve Cold War history. You’ll become part of our community, get ad-free episodes, and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you’ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. Just go to If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link. Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to Support the project! Follow us on Twitter Facebook Instagram Youtube Love history? Check out Into History at this link Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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