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Stories From The Eastern West

Stories From The Eastern West

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Little-known histories from Central & Eastern Europe that changed our world...

Heard of how The Rolling Stones played for the Communist Party? The bear who fought in WWII? Or the man who single-handedly created an entire language?

Each episode of our narrative podcast tells incredible stories that all have one thing in common: the Eastern West.

#SFTEW
43 Episodes
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Announcing Season III

Announcing Season III

2020-07-0801:15

This year, we've travelled to the far reaches of the globe for you: we went deep down into the Chernobyl Exclusion zone, visited New Zealand, and went back in time and space to deliver yet another set of stories that changed our world. Stay tuned: the first episode drops July 16th! Like our show? Get our newsletter!
EWA & LENA

EWA & LENA

2019-11-0114:06

How a teen's letter to a stranger in the Soviet Union led to a long-distance friendship that has lasted decades. Like many teens growing up in the People’s Republic of Poland, Ewa decided to send a letter to a stranger in the Soviet Union. Lena from Moscow wrote back to her, and they quickly found they had a lot in common, including a love of both dogs and Vysotsky records. They continued writing as they entered new phases in their lives. They began careers, started families, and of course there were the revolutions that changed everything around them from communist to capitalist. And they're still writing today... forty years later. How did Ewa find her penpal? Did the 1989 revolutions affect their friendship? And why have they never met? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:35] How Ewa found Lena [03:48] Instant friends [06:38] Exchanging gifts by post [08:49] The fall of communism [11:58] Still writing, but will they ever meet? Further reading / watching Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl A Pen Pal's Tales of Life in the Former Soviet Union // on FEE.org Postcrossing.com // a community that exchanges postcards with random people around the world Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
KAIE

KAIE

2019-10-2518:55

How a giant communal song festival helped Estonians regain independence from the USSR. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. In the Estonia Kaie Tanner grew up in, learning Russian at school was compulsory, and her mother and her friends often sang 'forbidden songs' at home – Estonian folk songs that the Soviet authorities disapproved of. Music was a huge part of her life, but she didn't expect that it could help her country win independence. But in 1987, when Kaie Tanner attended the massive Estonian Singing festival as a teenager, something unexpected happened. After the officially sanctioned event had finished, the hundreds of thousands of Estonians stayed and kept singing their own Estonian folk songs all through the night – and the Soviet authorities were powerless to stop them.  What was the Singing Revolution? How did it lead to the independence of Estonia and the other Baltic states? Was it possible for Estonia's Russian- and Estonian-speaking citizens to finally move on from past resentments? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:07] A childhood in Soviet-dominated Estonia [06:27] How Estonians tried to sing their country into independence  [10:01] Was the USSR military intervention successful? [12:38] Independence! Kaie becomes a music teacher [14:53] A country comprised of two peoples [18:24] Credits Further reading / watching The Singing Revolution // on Wikipedia.org The Sound of Freedom // on Local-life.com The Baltic Way // on Wikipedia.org Thanks This episode was produced with help from the Embassy of Poland in Tallinn. We'd like to extend many thanks to Ambassador Grzegorz Kozłowski, who kindly greenlighted our co-operation, and to Sławomira Borowska-Peterson, who helped us understand Estonian history, society and reality much better. Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
PETRILA

PETRILA

2019-10-1821:13

How a Romanian mining town that lost its mine fought to turn its remains into a cultural hub.  In our second and final episode on Ion Barbu and the town of Petrila, we learn how the mine, the town's main employer, was unable to achieve profitability in the new era of capitalism and was closed down for good. Ion had spent 15 years of his life at the mine, and for him and many others it was more than just a place of work. So when the mine's crumbling buildings were in line for demolition, Ion decided to try and save them by using art to revitalise the town. What happened to the town once the mine closed? Did Ion manage to save the buildings of the former mine? What happened next? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:23] Why the mine was closed? [03:07] Meeting another miner: Cenusa Catalin [09:55] Ion gives us a tour around a gallery in Deva [11:30] What does the process of closing a mine look like? [16:26] Ion gives us a tour around the Plumber's Museum [19:05] The many more museums that Ion wants to open [20:38] Credits Further reading / watching Ion Barbu // on BeyondCoal.eu Photo gallery from our trip to Petrila // on Culture.pl Beneath the Surface: The Occult Inspirations of Poland’s Legendary Naive Artist Coal Miners // on Culture.pl Author Małgorzata Rejmer on Romania & Albania // interview on Culture.pl Planet Petrila: Documentary Feature Trailer // on Youtube Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Clara Kleininger was our associate producer for this story Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
ION

ION

2019-10-1119:21

How a Romanian miner made political caricatures at a time when making fun of the country's leadership could mean a visit from the secret police.  After finishing university in 1978, Ion Barbu was assigned to the Petrila mine as a topographer. He only intended to be there briefly, but despite attempting other jobs such as local reporter and museum curator, he ended up staying at the mine for the next 15 years... How did Ion balance being both a miner and a political caricaturist? What happened when the secret police arrested him for mocking the Romanian president? How does he recall the sudden and violent fall of the Ceaușescu regime? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:04] How Ion became a miner... [05:04] ... and a caricaturist [09:50] The Securitate, the dreaded secret police of communist Romania [12:34] How did the political changes look from inside the Petrila mine?  [16:47] Ion explains why 'We should say goodbye to the past laughing'  [18:42] Credits Further reading & watching 'Islands of culture' shape the future of the Jiu Valley, Romania // on Just-Transition.info Beneath the Surface: The Occult Inspirations of Poland’s Legendary Naive Artist Coal Miners // on Culture.pl Author Małgorzata Rejmer on Romania & Albania // interview on Culture.pl Planet Petrila: Documentary Feature Trailer // on Youtube Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Clara Kleininger was our associate producer for this story Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski The last song was performed by Fanfara Minerilor din Cavnic
IRYNA

IRYNA

2019-10-0419:44

How a single mother in Kyiv experienced the end of the USSR and survived the harsh economic realities of life in post-communist Ukraine in the early 1990s. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Iryna Tkachenko is a music conservatory graduate and journalist who became a single mother just a couple of years before the demise of the Soviet Union and the political and economic turbulence that followed the fall of the Iron Curtain. Her wage as a radio journalist wasn't really enough to survive, but after the complete collapse of the Ukrainian economy,  you were considered lucky to have a job at all. She bought clothes at second-hand shops and travelled to Moscow to buy things that you couldn't get in the mostly empty stores of Kyiv. She took on extra jobs and did whatever she could to survive but never lost her positive outlook on life. How did Iryna end up selling toy cars on the streets of Kyiv? How did she and her friends react to the putsch of August 1991? How did she cope with the early days of capitalism? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:10] An unusual single mom [06:00] How Iryna became a businesswoman... for one day only [07:50] The August Coup & the uncertainty it brought on [11:17] Why didn't she go to work abroad? [14:15] And what was she doing instead?  [19:10] Credits Further reading Photos of Everyday Life in Ukraine in the 1990s // on Slate.com Wearing Adibas & Fuma: Memories from Growing up in the 1990s  // on Culture.pl Anne Applebaum Recalls Poland's Food Revolution // on Culture.pl Coup of August 1991 // on Wikipedia.org Andrei Sakharov // on Wikipedia.org Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak & Żenia Klimakin Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
EDGAR & MICHAEL

EDGAR & MICHAEL

2019-09-2722:29

How East Berlin's leading political cabaret tried to get their message through despite strict state censorship... and what happened when the system they were laughing at ceased to exist.  For the citizens of the GDR, laughter was often the best medicine when dealing with the absurdities of the political system they lived under. And if you were a resident of East Berlin, there was no better place than Kabarett Distel (meaning 'thorn' in German). The content of Kabarett Distel shows was strictly censored, so performers had to find clever ways to fully communicate with their audience – who would be focussed on every word and facial expression. Even if it was likely that the Stasi secret police was watching. As the regime began to crumble, late 1980s members of the cabaret joined other East Germans on the streets to demand democratic reforms. How did the cabaret respond to the tumultuous events of 1989 and the opening of the Berlin Wall? How did Kabarett Distel adapt to the new democratic reality, where you were suddenly free to say what you like? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:01] Laughing at the system [06:00] Testing the boundaries of censorship [10:13] The final years of the GDR [12:43] The fall of the Berlin Wall and what it meant for Kabarett Distel [14:32] Unification, scandal & the Stasi [18:22] Staying relevant & funny in a free system [19:59] Almost time to pack our suitcases Further reading History of German Kabarett // on Wikipedia.org Polish Cabaret under the Communist Regime // on Culture.pl Kabarett Distel // official website (German only) Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
TYMON

TYMON

2019-09-2018:34

Meet the headstrong musician who's been viciously rebelling against both of the systems he lived under... and created some truly worthwhile art along the way.  Tymon Tymanski came of age in the 1980s, probably the bleakest years of the communist regime. Much like teenagers in the West, he turned to punk rock and artistic rebellion as a way of protesting the stagnation of the society he lived in. He met like-minded young people at the University of Gdańsk, played in various bands, and formed the avant-garde art group Totart, whose absurd, and often obscene, performances and happenings aimed to provoke disorder and outrage. Then, in 1989, the whole system came tumbling down. Like other artists, Tymon had to adapt to the new reality of total artistic freedom and economic uncertainty. How did Tymon and his band Miłość (Love) end up creating a whole new musical genre? What did the arrival of free-market capitalism in the 1990s mean for artists and musicians? Is it possible to remain uncompromising as an artist and still pay the bills? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:25] Coming of age in the 1980s [04:08] The origins of Totart [06:12] Absurdity & transgression [08:43] 1989 & the end of censorship [10:48] A new band & a new music genre [13:29] Disillusionment & surviving as an artist Further reading Tymon Tymanski // biography on Culture.pl Yass: The Jazz, The Filth & The Fury // on Culture.pl 9 Politically Influential Singer-Songwriters from Europe under Communism // on Culture.pl Rock Music and the Fall of Communism // on Wikipedia.org The Walls Must Tumble: 10 Polish Songs about Freedom // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Music by Tymon Tymański, Sni Sredstvom Za Uklanianie, Tymon Tymański & The Transistors, and Totart Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
JACEK

JACEK

2019-09-1324:04

How a banned singer-songwriter became an unwilling musical hero through his home-copied cassettes.  Jacek Kleyff was an increasingly popular topical songwriter in 1970s Poland. But he was unwilling to bend to the demands of the communist state's censorship, so the authorities reacted by banning him from appearing in public, including radio and TV. But he didn't stop recording, and his songs, circulated through the underground on home-made cassettes, became anthems for the Polish democratic opposition.  What did Jacek do when he was blacklisted by the communist authorities? How did he become a cult figure within the Polish opposition? What did he do when the regime fell? Find out in the latest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:25] Coming of age during the grim 1970s in Poland [03:56] Jacek founds the Salon of Independents and becomes an oppositionist [06:23] Salon gets banned, Jacek goes on to play solo [09:57] Jacek writes a song which... starts a revolution [15:22] Jacek gets banned for life and casts himself away... [18:15] ... but still makes some noise from the underground [20:35] The system's gone. What does it mean for Jacek? Further reading Jacek Kleyff // biography on Culture.pl 9 Politically Influential Singer-Songwriters from Europe under Communism // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl A Long Way To Freedom: Banned Photos From Poland's 1980s // on Culture.pl Rock Music and the Fall of Communism // on Wikipedia.org The Walls Must Tumble: 10 Polish Songs about Freedom // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Special thanks to Lauren Dubowski for her brilliant translation of 'Sejm'
SIEGBERT

SIEGBERT

2019-09-0624:21

How an East German cameraman filmed the first major demonstrations in the GDR from the top of a church steeple in Leipzig. A month later, East Germany would effectively cease to exist. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Siegbert Schefke was officially unemployed after being fired from his job as a building engineer. Unofficially, he began to arrange for diplomats to smuggle videotapes from East Germany to be broadcast on West German TV stations. As it happens, most East Germans could also pick up Western TV on their receivers. Siegbert didn't really know how to use a video camera, but that didn't really matter, what mattered was that the world could see what was really going on behind the Wall. How did Siegbert and his friend Aram Radomski end up filming the first major protest in the GDR on 9th October 1989?  How did they outfox the Stasi and get the footage to the West? Find out in the newest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:08] Born in the GDR [03:50] From part-time revolutionary to full-time revolutionary [06:22] Smuggling videotapes to the West [08:40] Foreign diplomats & secret codes [11:11] The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig [14:27] Making history [18:22] The day the Berlin Wall fell [21:12] What next? Further reading Siegbert Schefke // short biography on Revolution89.de The Monday Demonstrations in East Germany // on Wikipedia A Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig // on Spiegel.de 'I was very angry for 30 years' // interview on AlJazeera.com Sex, Karate & Videotapes: The VHS Craze of the 1989 Transformation // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
WOJCIECH

WOJCIECH

2019-08-2923:44

How Polish opposition activists began transmitting their own pirate radio and 'hacked' communist-run state TV. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. Wojciech Stawiszyński was an opposition activist, who suddenly found himself in charge of running Radio Solidarność, a mobile radio station that would be the voice of the pro-democracy Solidarity movement. Their success depended on a sophisticated game of cat and mouse with the authorities, with each broadcast taking place at a new location. In the darkest period of martial law, they had to resort to incredibly complicated ways of operating, funding, broadcasting and even communicating with each other. Did they make it through? Did they manage to outmaneuver the communist secret services? What happened when communism was gone? Find out in the latest episode of The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:08] How Wojciech found himself in charge of the outlawed Radio Solidarność [03:50] How do you reach listeners when the secret police is on your back? [05:55] Radio Solidarność programme content [09:05] Outsmarting the communist regime with technology [14:35] Hardships and low points [16:42] How to live a dangerous dual life [20:36] Adjusting to capitalism after 1989 Further reading Radio Solidarity, On The Air, Defies Polish Regime // on NYT.com Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Music by Blue Note Sessions Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
CHRIS

CHRIS

2019-08-2319:47

How a photographer from London gave the rest of the world a glimpse of everyday life behind the Iron Curtain. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. The Polish-British photographer Chris Niedenthal found himself in the heart of Communist Poland in the 1970s and 80s, documenting both how ordinary people lived, as well as the major political events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet-backed regime. His photographs ended up in major Western periodicals, such as Newsweek, Time, Der Spiegel and Forbes. Through his camera, he created a window into the Polish People's Republic for the rest of the world to peer through.  His iconic photograph of an armoured vehicle in front of a poster for the film ‘Apocalypse Now’, taken after martial law was declared in Poland, remains one of the defining images of the period – but how did he end up taking it, and what happened next?  Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter. Time stamps [01:07] How he came to Poland [04:15] The election of John Paul II and how it changed Chris’ life [05:30] Martial law and Chris’ most iconic photo [10:04] Other revolutions Chris witnessed and photographed [12:59] How he happened to be the first photographer to shoot the fall of the Berlin Wall [16:00] What did Chris do after communism had ended? Further reading Chris Niedenthal // biography on Culture.pl The Communist Regime in Poland in 10 Astonishing Pictures // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Capturing a Country's History in One Single Picture // on Culture.pl ChrisNiedenthal.com // Chris's official website Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Music by Blue Dot Sessions & SIR HARDLY NOBODY (Chris Niedenthal's band) 
ZBIGNIEW

ZBIGNIEW

2019-08-2325:02

How a well-known opposition leader evaded capture by the communist authorities for almost five years. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain. In the early 1980s, Zbigniew Bujak was the head of Solidarity in the Warsaw region, a pro-democratic labour movement that was gaining in strength. So much so, in fact, that the communist leadership declared martial law in December 1981 in order to stop the opposition dead in its tracks. Hundreds of political activists were arrested, including much of the leadership of Solidarity. But Bujak managed to go into hiding before they had a chance to find him. Making use of an underground oppositionist network as well as methods of masking his movements, he managed to evade capture for five years. Keeping Zbigniew in hiding became crucial for the underground opposition since not only was he orchestrating anti-regime actions, but his continued freedom remained a symbol of the secret police’s weakness. How did his hiding end? What was the long-term impact of his activity? What did freedom mean for Bujak himself? How does he remember the shift of power from his own perspective? You’ll find all the answers in the opening episode of Stories From The Eastern West’s new mini-series The Final Curtain. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Click here to listen to the Polish version of this episode! Time stamps [01:45] Life in 1970s Poland [04:51] Zbigniew Bujak starts his anti-regime activities [09:47] Martial law [11:25] Going into hiding [17:17] Arrest. What next? [19:37] Glasnost: what it means, and what it meant for Poles [22:37] Communism is gone. Who takes over now? Further reading Zbigniew Bujak // biography on Wikipedia.com Poland's Walk to Freedom in 13 Iconic Photos // on Culture.pl Solidarność: Poland, Word by Word // on Culture.pl Posters of Solidarity from 1980 to 1989 // on Culture.pl One Photo, One Story: The Round Table Talks // on Culture.pl Credits Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
THE FINAL CURTAIN: a new series of personal tales from the Eastern Bloc’s demise. Launching August 23rd in the Stories From The Eastern West feed! The year 1989 saw a big change. All of Central and Eastern Europe took a U-turn within less than three years and transformed from the grey land behind the Iron Curtain into several independent, quickly developing, free market democracies.  The team behind Stories From The Eastern West is marking this occasion with The Final Curtain, a special mini-series featuring personal tales from the Eastern Bloc’s transformation. Through these remarkable accounts told by people who lived through circumstances we would now hardly believe, The Final Curtain offers an important snapshot of a pivotal moment in Europe’s history.  Find out more on SFTEW.com as well as our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our newsletter.
CRACKED

CRACKED

2019-02-2826:33

Finland + technology = Nokia, doesn’t it? Yes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finland is responsible for many technological breakthroughs from the last couple decades, such as the SSH cybersecurity protocol used on over half of the world’s web servers, and Internet Relay Chat, which people born in the 1980s will remember as the first instant messenger. But back in the early 1990s, Finland’s tech scene was mostly just a lot of teenagers pirating software illegally. They would code at squat parties filled with cigarette smoke. None of the glossy corporate world that lay ahead was on anybody’s mind. In this episode, Molly Schwartz, who lived there for almost two years, goes on a journey to the roots of Finland’s tech transformation. She dives deep into 8-bit music, pixelated computer screens and the days when games were distributed on C-cassettes. Just how did this small, cold, dark and sparsely-populated country become an IT powerhouse? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [02:26] Wili Miettinen runs away from home and starts coding and… pirating[03:58] What were the beginnings of the Demoscene? [06:45] Demoparties![08:28] Why was it so difficult to create demos back in the early 1990s?[09:39] Demosceners start using their skills to make money...[12:28] … and serious business players take notice[14:40] Introducing Taneli Tikka[17:40] Taneli Tikka invents proto-Twitter[19:28] The demoscenes’ impact on the startup scene[23:02] Molly’s final monologue[24:45] Credits & thanks Further watching Second Reality PC Demo by Future Crew / on YouTube.com Making Of Second Reality / Future Crew / on YouTube.com Further reading Some hard data on the Demoscene / on Wikipedia Demoscene Still Alive and Kicking / on Wired.com Demoscene So Far / on a 90s-style Finnish blog How 1990s Polish Kids Discovered Nintendo through Piracy / on Culture.pl Thanks Wili Miettinen / for telling us about his personal experiences throughout his long career and how the tech industry grew out of squats and parties. You can find him on Twitter (where his username is, of course, OG): @wili Taneli Tikka / for talking to us about his experiences at Assembly as a teenager and how his forays into inventing social media. You can also find Taneli on Twitter: @tanelitikka Molly would also like to thank all the people who helped her along the way. Her special thanks go to Jussi-Pekka Harviainen, Pekka Aakko, Marko Reunanen and Jukka Kauppinen. Credits Written & produced by Molly SchwartzEdited by Adam Żuławski & Wojciech OleksiakScoring & sound design by Wojciech OleksiakHosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
HUNT

HUNT

2019-02-1421:33

During WWII, the Third Reich had a systematic policy of plundering artwork from countries they invaded. In occupied Poland, this took place on a massive scale. Over half a million individual works of art were taken over the course of the war, including countless national treasures. But while some of these works of art were destined for the walls of high-ranking Nazi party officials and the planned Führermuseum, others were marked for destruction. In fact, there was one particular painting that the Germans were really keen to get rid of. ‘The Battle of Grunwald’ was painted by Jan Matejko in the late 19th century and portrayed a battle that had happened over 500 years ago, so why did the Third Reich want it gone so badly? And just how would it avoid being captured seeing as it was 10-metres long and weighed nearly a tonne? Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [00:58] How big is this painting then? [03:00] The evacuation begins [04:43] What makes this painting so wanted? [07:32] The journey continues and tragedy strikes [10:19] Time to hide this enormity somewhere safe... [14:48] ...with the hunt at its peak [16:09] The Germans are gone. What next? [18:20] Where is the painting today and is it worth seeing? [20:10] Credits Further watching / listening The Tale of the Battle of Grunwald / by the National Museum in Warsaw, on youtube.com (Polish Only) Hitler's Fuhrermuseum / by the Art Curious Podcast, an excellent episode about stolen art in WWII and Hitler's planned Fuhrermusem. Further reading The Battle of Grunwald Explained / on Culture.pl Jan Matejko's Battle of Grunwald / on Wikipedia.org The Battle of Grunwald (First Battle of Tannenberg) / on Wikipedia.org Nazi Plunder / on Wikipedia.org Thanks Prof. Maria Poprzęcka / for talking to us about the history of the painting and its incredible war-time adventures. Poprzęcka is a professor of Art History at the University of Warsaw and presents an art history show on Polish Radio. Piotr Lisowski / for talking to us about the painting and its restoration, and sharing with us its many secrets. Lisowski is a paintings conservator at the National Museum in Warsaw. The National Museum in Warsaw / for their assistance. John Beauchamp / for becoming Piotr Lisowski's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.  Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Maria Poprzęcka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos. Credits Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Żuławski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
TRANSMUTATION

TRANSMUTATION

2019-01-3122:52

Alchemy – the supposed ancient art of turning everyday objects into gold – is widely believed to be obsolete. Interestingly, however, every bit of this notion is wrong. First of all, as it turns out, alchemy is still being practised today and, according to one of our guests, is doing better than ever. And second of all, it apparently was never actually an art of the physical transmutation of objects, but a very profound blend of philosophy, chemistry, physics and religion. Join us on SFTEW as we travel back to the Middle Ages and meet Michael Sendivogius, an alchemist who contributed to the discovery of something absolutely essential... Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [01:10] A transmutation in Emperor Rudolph’s court[03:37] Why were alchemists sought after? [04:43] What actually happened at the Emperor’s court?[06:39] What was alchemy really all about?[08:42] Were alchemists nothing more than a bunch of fraudsters?[10:53] Alchemical code[12:51] ‘There’s a secret substance in the air’[13:47] How Sendivogius came to his startling discovery [17:29] Alchemy is not dead[21:07] Credits Further watching Zbigniew Andrew Szydlo’s latest Ted Talks Appearance / on YouTube.com Zbigniew Andrew Szydlo sets things on fire / on YouTube.com Further reading How to turn things into gold / on scientificamerican.com (the thing we promised in the podcast!) The Origins of Alchemy & The Pole who Played with Oxygen / on Culture.pl Who Was Michael Sendivogius? Biography Of An Alchemist / on Culture.pl Water Which Does Not Wet Hands / a book by Dr Szydlo on Sendivogius and Mediaeval alchemy, on Amazon.com Thanks Zbigniew Andrew Szydlo / for revealing all the secrets of transmutation and alchemy to Adam, our editor and host. Dr Szydlo is an acknowledged chemist, educator and a great performer with a mission of presenting experiments outside of the classroom. Mark Stavish / for talking with us about the state of alchemy today. Mark is the director for the Institute for Hermetic Studies in Pennsylvania and a life-long student of esotericism with over 25 years experience in comparative religion, philosophy, psychology, and mysticism with emphasis on Traditional Western Esotericism. Rafał T. Prinke / for explaining how close Sendivogius really was to the world of science. Dr Prinke is a historian specialising in astrology, esotericism and ancient games. John Beauchamp / for his Sendivogius impersonation. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.Credits Written & produced by Elizabeth Lawrence & Wojciech OleksiakEdited by Adam ŻuławskiScoring & sound design by Wojciech OleksiakHosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam ŻuławskiResearch by Monika Proba
NAKED

NAKED

2019-01-1723:50

The German Democratic Republic was known for being one of the more politically repressive countries in the former Eastern bloc, with its Stasi secret police keeping a firm grip on any form of dissent. But it is also known for its long tradition of nude bathing – known in Germany as Free Body Culture or FKK. In the mid-1950s, this tradition came under threat as the GDR government tried to ban nude bathing completely. Unexpectedly for a country that had no tolerance for dissent, the East German fans of Free Body Culture fought back… Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! Time stamps [00:19] Imagine it's the middle of summer [02:21] Train across the border [03:43] Meeting Dr Wolle [04:57] A bit of history [06:45] Lake Motzener [08:33] The 1930s & WWII [09:57] The birth of the DDR [12:39] FKK outlawed [15:07] Opening of the floodgates [17:13] Mass popularity [18:07] The Iron Curtain falls [20:00] Free Body Culture survives? [21:35] Conclusion [22:46] Credits Further watching 1976 News Report from an East German Beach (with Christmas Carols?!) / at mdr.de (Central German Broadcasting) CONTAINS NUDITY (in German) Further reading Freikorperkultur (Free Body Culture) explained / at Wikipedia.org Nudity in Germany: The Naked Truth / at CNN Travel Will Public Nakedness Fade Out in Germany? / at Citylab.com Love in the Time of Communism / book by Josie McLellan at Amazon.com. The chapter on FKK in East Germany was an invaluable resource in researching this topic. Thanks Dr Stefan Wolle / for sharing with us his knowledge about the origins of Free Body Culture and its popularity in the former East Germany. Dr Wolle is the Head of the Research Department at the DDR Museum in Berlin. Reinhard Gens / for inviting us to visit the AKK Birkenheide eV: FKK Verein (Birkenheide General Body Culture Association) at Lake Motzener, and for speaking to me about the history of FKK and his own experiences. Reinhard is retired and an FKK enthusiastic since the late 1950s. Jürgen Krull / for inviting us to his club and talking to me about the history of FKK and Adolf Koch. Jurgen Krull is the President of the Familien-Sport-Verein Adolf Koch e. V. (Adolf Koch Family Sports Association) in Berlin. Mark / for talking to us about this experiences with FKK. Mark is an FKK enthusiast and member of the Adolf Koch Family Sports Association. The DDR Museum in Berlin / for their assistance. The DDR Museum is located in Central Berlin and is open 365 days a year. Colin Delargy & Sabrina Schaffarczyk / for their linguistic assistance and helping Piotr navigate the Berlin FKK scene. John Beauchamp / for becoming Dr Wolle's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.  Credits Written, produced & presented by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Żuławski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski  
Rabbithole Two

Rabbithole Two

2019-01-1406:26

In this bonus episode, you’ll get to hear a song that usually doesn’t leave the thick walls of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy.  If you want to know more about Grotowski, check out our two-part story about him in the episodes SEARCH and CONTINUATION. Keep up to date with SFTEW by following us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And if you like our show, sign up for our newsletter!
MESMERISED

MESMERISED

2019-01-0327:16

The story of a man who mesmerised half a continent... Get it on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts | Overcast | RSS | Direct download In 1989 the Cold War was coming to an end. Soviet Union and the whole Eastern Bloc were crumbling. There was confusion everywhere. One day, state television channel started showing something really strange. A man, looking like Doctor’s Spock muscly brother, was staring at the camera promising to programme people’s brains and free them from all the pain and suffering. Who was he? Where did he come from? Did his methods have anything to do with medicine or science? Or, was he just another charlatan who profited from people’s insecurities in turbulent times? Listen to MESMERISED, a Stories From The Eastern West episode on the rise and fall of Anatoly Kashpirovsky, a man who mesmerised half a continent. Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter! You can also follow SFTEW on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. Further reading A Common Madness / on bbk.ac.uk Anatoly Kashpirovsky, Russia’s New Rasputin / on TheGuardian.com A Psychic Healer Tried to Hypnotize Soviets to Distract from the Fall of Communism / on Atlas Obscura Memories from growing up in 1990s Poland / on Culture.pl Further watching Kashpirovsky wishing his Youtube followers a happy 2019 / on Youtube A 72-year-old Kashpirovsky lifting 245kg (540lb) / on Youtube The first full episode of Kashpirovsky’s TV show, 8th October 1989 / on Youtube Highlight footage of Kashpirovsky meeting with a live audience in 1989 / on Youtube Footage from the live operation on Lyubov Grabovskaya, 31st March 1988 / on Youtube Thanks Żenia Klimakin / for recounting his meeting with Kashpirovsky from a few years back. Żenia is a journalist at Culture.pl/ru. Krzysztof Rowiński / for delivering wonderful voice over for Żenia Klimakin to open and close this episode. Krzysztof is a PhD scholar in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Maria Litwin / for being resistant to Kashpirowsky's super powers and telling us what she saw, when nobody else was looking. Polina Justova / for becoming the English voice of Maria Litwin. Polina is an editor for Culture.pl/ru and also works as a literary translator and language teacher. Jan Morawicki / for helping us build a political perspective on those hectic times. Jan Morawicki was born in Saint Petersburg in Russia. He is a journalist and anthropologist working at the University of Łódź, Poland Jerzy Oleksiak / for devoting his time to becoming Jan Morawicki’s English doppelganger. Jerzy is a former intern at Culture.pl, but now digs holes in the desert, looking for traces of extraterrestrial presence back in Ancient Egypt. Romuald Polczyk / for explaining why hypnosis can actually work. Dr Polczyk works at the Institute of Psychology at the Jagiellonian University. He wrote his doctoral thesis on hypnosis. John Beauchamp / for becoming Kashpirovsky’s dusty English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.   Zuzanna Grębecka / for helping us dig into the meanderings of Soviet pop culture and science. Dr. Grębacka works at the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw. Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Zuzanna Grębecka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos. Marcin Kuropatwa / for inviting us into his childhood memories where Kashpirovsky was capable of anything. Marcin Kuropatwa is an ethnographer and a musician, and works for the National Museum of Ethnography in Warsaw. Credits Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Żuławski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Adam Żuławski, Monika Proba & Nitzan Reisner
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Comments (2)

daisy

interesting podcast in light of current east west relationships

Nov 15th
Reply

snvhd

that is right

Oct 29th
Reply
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