Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cold War Spy Exchange Drama: On This Day in History

On this day in 1962, Soviet officials exchanged U2 pilot Gary Powers for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel who was being held in the US. The exchange happened on Glienicker Bridge near Berlin and Pottsdam, Germany.

Thanks to Wikipedia, here's a shot of the bridge and surrounding area. I've been across that bridge myself, not as an exchange of course, but didn't manage to capture a picture of it. Reporters dub the structure Spy Exchange Bridge because during the Cold War it was used as such three times.

Now let's talk about the principal characters here. You might be familiar with Gary Power and the story of his plane being shot down on May 1, 1960. He was captured live, confessed to spying, all quite controversial, of course. Not surprisingly, Mr Kruzhchev enjoyed surprising President Eisenhower with that news and he positively relished announcing the capture on May 1st to the dignitaries gathered in Moscow. You might be interested in my earlier post, May Day Memories: The U-2 Spy Plane Incident. There is posted video about that incident, thanks to YouTube.

By the way, last summer at our Christian Singing School in Donetsk, I met a woman who witnessed Gary Power's plane being shot down. She was walking to the neighborhood grocery store when she saw an explosion in the sky near Ekaterineburg. Later on the news she learned that it was an American plane.

The Russian spy was known as Rudolph Abel. A hollowed-out nickel was part of the puzzle that eventually led to his capture. He had worked as a master spy in the US for nine years.

Here's a bit of video footage about his capture.

Here's the New York Times article about the spy exchange in 1962. Registration might be required to read that story, but if you too are interested in Cold War drama and intrigue, it's certainly worth it.

How about you, dear blog reader. Have any interesting spy stories to share? Please do so. It's just us here, you know. . . ;)


David said...

Zondervan has recently published an interesting (but fictional) spy story which I enjoyed: The Black Sea Affair by Don Brown.

It sets up the potential of nuclear war between Russia and the USA in the current post cold war environment, starting with terrorists who seize Russian plutonium, and an American sub entering the Black Sea to stop them. The fate of a dozen Ukrainian orphans, their teacher (and the entire world) hangs in the balance. The story showcases the Christian values of a couple key characters. But it's a race against the clock, with Russian missiles activated and programmed for American cities and a terrorist threat hanging over St. Petersberg.

Eileen said...

David, this sounds so interesting - published by Zondervan, no less! I'm going to need to check on this book, The Black Sea Affair. Thanks for suggesting it!