In Need of 1980's Soviet Expertise

“You take picture of me, I take picture of you.”

Very cool. Thanks for the photos gents.

Stik, is that a photo from a book or from your service?

Something that I found online… reminds me of a photo that I once did with a buddy…

My friend and I followed a tour bus through a gate to the Soviet War Memorial in West Berlin. Man did we almost get in a heap of trouble. Damn near escalated into an international incident. Fortunately he took a photo of me and my girlfriend as proof.

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Here’s another from my time there, taken while I was East Berlin.

Couple of dudes I met on my wanderings:

I’m pretty sure I posted this one before:

When I found this photo I thought it was the Haus der Kapitulation, but it turns out it’s just some random house in the DDR. The front door is strikingly similar though. I’ll probably stumble across it someday. I have thousands of photos, many take from a Kodak instant camera hidden in a book.

Speaking of cameras hidden in books, inside the Haus der Kapitulation, photos were strictly forbidden, so naturally…

Last one for today. This was not East Berlin, but it was in the DDR. Site of one of the most influential happenings in the last millenium. Any guesses?

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I don’t know you well, but from what I do know, this sounds about right.


Luther’s 95 theses and the beginning of the Reformation, if I am not mistaken.

You are correct, sir.

This is the photo that caused things to go south and got us chased by Soviet security. Apparently getting out of (or in our case off of) your vehicle is frowned upon.

Back view of the Martin Luther Church, generally only seen if you’re backbacking through the DDR with a large ALICE on your back,

Some of our Genossen in no man’s land:

I really wish this one had turned out better. That’s what happens when you hide your camera.

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Those photos of that time fascinate me. I have a handful of pics when I went up to Hof border camp and went on a tour. I’ll have to dig them out. Wasn’t up to any mischief like 18 Bravo though :joy:!

I always thought that Martin Luther had hammered his stuff into the door of a church in Hannover or Hamburg… ah well :smirk:

No, but I hammered my stuff in both of those cities. :rofl:

There was no sickle, but there was a hammer… :smirk:

A few more Cold War photos of mine -
This is me on the right waiting for Anatolii Scharanskii to be released. He refused to come across as the Soviet spies we released made their way back, saying he was not a spy but rather a dissident, and would not be seen to be being “exchanged” for them.

My photos turned out better than the one published in Star and Stripes the next day. I talked my way past everyone to eventually get the best spot.

Does it make you an OMF if you’re in the same photo as a dude wearing a fedora who is not auditioning for American Idol?

The “O” is for “old” in case you’re stumped.

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Or the family friendly version is OG :wink:


I think you knew the answer to that when you typed it…

Cool photos. Thank you.


More pohotos from the goold old days.
I’m pretty sure you weren’t allowed to take photos of NVA bases…

You also weren’t supposed to photograph Russian Soldiers along the corridor in the DDR. I hid an Instamatic camera inside of a book and got this one:

This may be one of my few “legal” photos in this thread thus far. (how boring) Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow.


I got to tour through Lenin’s tomb in 1987 with my sister-in-law’s dance exchange group. I went on the trip as the video camera guy. My daughter was less than a year old and I carried her through the tomb with a baby bottle in my suit jacket pocket, That bottle of liquid drew much attention from the guards, but no issues. She slept and I was good. Nice trip


Why do I feel like there’s a much bigger story than just you roaming around behind the Iron Curtain with a hidden camera?


More photos.

NVA motorbikes

Not everything was behind the Iron Curtain. I actually got on top of it once just for grins. There were many areas around West Berlin where the wall was simply expanded steel with the pipe on top.


As a newly promoted Sergeant I had to visit Berlin in 1980 for a series of briefings; part of the visit involved a trip along the Wall itself, conducted by the Royal Military Police. Their party piece was to show me a section of Wall that opened upon demand. To prove it they pressed a bell push, and slowly but surely a section of concrete wall slid open. I was duly astonished; once opened I could see an East German Border Guard in a tower frantically racking a lever to get the section closed again. The story behind this was that a German couple owned some land in what was the eastern sector which they used as a sort of vegetable allotment/garden. Somehow, they had secured rights to tend it and this section of Wall was modified to allow them, and them only, access. It was not meant to be used as a showpiece for the RMP, who took great delight in baiting the Border Guards.

If it sounds surreal – it was! Just imagine, all you have to do is press a bell push and the Wall opens!


In '84 I had heard stories about places where you could walk unimpeded into the East, but we were never told where, so I didn’t give them much credence. Now with your info I know why - guys like me wouldve been getting into trouble all the time.
It’s unlikely that it was the Berlin border. The British sector had far more border with the DDR proper, so it was more likely to have been in the western portion of the Brit sector, maybe around Spandau.