Saturday, April 14, 2007

US Border Operations in Germany

Recently, I did some research on listening stations that picked up Soviet radio signals during the Cold War. If the Cold War is a thing from before your time and you're wondering what those listening stations are you should visit the Schneeberg Det J Station, one of the many that were located in West Germany near the border of Czechoslovakia. For those who, like me, served in Germany for many years it's a bit nostalgic.

In these days of Internet and global communication we tend to forget that only a few years ago there were two separated worlds on this planet: East and West. Huge efforts were made to retrieve even the smallest piece of information about military activities, economics or politics from 'the other side'. For decades there was a complete blackout of information, except for propaganda and such.

Although the Cold War was the cause of many suffering it did bring stability and peace in Europe for half a century. To achieve this they had to know the enemy in order to estimate and respond properly to existing - or non-existing - threats and the strength of the enemy. The question who would win the Cold War depended on who had which information from his opponent. That's why SIGINT played a decisive role in keeping the pants dry and the heads cool in times of big political and military propaganda talk about the capitalist aggressor, the communist seed of evil and the total annihilation of the enemy.

If you're interested in how the Allied Forces and their Soviet friends grew apart and became military opponents I can highly recommend US Army Border Operations in Germany. A complete and detailed historical description of the place where the Cold War players faced each other. It describes the post-war border operations, the structure of the border forces, aerial surveillance, border security equipment and infrastructure, intelligence operations and border incidents. The complete story of the Iron Curtain. A very interesting piece of history that influenced the world for many decades.

To have a birds-eye look on the Schneeberg SIGINT station, start Google Earth and type "Bischofsgruen Schneeberg" in the search box. Type in "Berlin Teufelsberg", and you jump to another American station, and "Brocken Schierke" (use 3D Buildings!), will show you the most famous former Soviet station in East Germany.

More information at the Cold War SIGINT page at my website.


9473BILL said...

I served on mountain " Schneeburg"
fall of 1954 - 1955 - trying to locate
people I served with.
this was the " 9473 TSU " group

Dirk Rijmenants said...

Hi Bill, did you checked out the Schneeberg veterans website?