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Society & Culture
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Stories From The Eastern West

Updated 7 days ago

Society & Culture
History
Documentary
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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

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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

iTunes Ratings

22 Ratings
Average Ratings
22
0
0
0
0

Love this podcast!

By sthubert - Feb 23 2020
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Really enjoy each episode.

Great podcast

By jsdckjsdcn - Aug 31 2017
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An informative and entertaining podcast!

iTunes Ratings

22 Ratings
Average Ratings
22
0
0
0
0

Love this podcast!

By sthubert - Feb 23 2020
Read more
Really enjoy each episode.

Great podcast

By jsdckjsdcn - Aug 31 2017
Read more
An informative and entertaining podcast!
Cover image of Stories From The Eastern West

Stories From The Eastern West

Latest release on Nov 01, 2019

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 7 days ago

Rank #1: SPY

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Throughout the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the United States used espionage extensively to gather information about the opposing side. To do this, they often relied on individual operatives to provide the information that technology often couldn’t.

This episode will focus on one lesser-known Eastern European operative named Ryszard Kukliński, an officer in the Polish Army and a spy for American intelligence. We’ll discuss how Kukliński joined the army and his swift rise through the ranks. We’ll try to understand why he became disillusioned with the army and decided to work with American intelligence. Towards the end of the episode, we explore how his fascinating story can help us to better understand the nature of Cold War espionage.

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Time stamps

[02:46] Kukliński’s early years [06:00] What made Kukliński decide to work with the CIA? [09:50] How did he communicate with the Americans? [12:15] A few of the close calls Kukliński experienced [13:20] The end of his mission and the exfiltration [17:30] Putting Kukliński’s mission into the wider context of the Cold War [22:40] What happened to Kukliński after the fall of communism in Poland?   Further reading

Thanks

Benjamin Weiser / for kindly explaining all the details of Kuklinski’s mission to us. Benjamin Weiser is a reporter covering the Manhattan federal courts for New York Times. Before joining The Times in 1997, he worked for 18 years at The Washington Post. There he received the George Polk Award and the Livingston Award.

David E. Hoffman / for providing us with an outsider’s perspective and putting Kukliński’s deeds into a wider context. David E. Hoffman is an American writer and journalist for The Washington Post and the PBS flagship investigative television series, FRONTLINE. He won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his book The Dead Hand about the legacy of the Cold War arms race.

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner & Michael Keller

Nov 08 2017

26mins

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Rank #2: TRANSMUTATION

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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...

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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

Jan 31 2019

22mins

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Rank #3: CRACKED

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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?

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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 Further reading 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

Feb 28 2019

26mins

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Rank #4: BOWIE

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Explore the meaning and story behind one of David Bowie's most iconic songs.

In 1973, while travelling by train across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, David Bowie had a brief and seemingly insignificant stopover in Warsaw. However, what he witnessed there, and elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc, served as an inspiration for Warszawa from the widely-acclaimed 1977 album Low.

In this episode, our hosts John and Nitzan will look deeper into the origins of this iconic song. Why was Bowie so fascinated with Eastern Europe and the nature of Cold War politics in the first place? How did the sights and sounds that Bowie witnessed during his brief time in Warsaw impact the song’s creation?  What were the inspirations for the sonorous yet mysterious lyrics found in the song?  And finally, our hosts will attempt to answer arguably the most perplexing question – is Warszawa even about Warsaw?

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Time stamps [03:30] How Bowie’s drug addiction led him to move to the centre stage of Cold War politics, West Berlin [04:12] The origins of Bowie’s new album and his collaboration with Brian Eno [07:20] How Bowie’s fear of flying led to his journey across the Soviet Union and his eventual stop in Warsaw [09:51] Bowie’s famous walk in Warsaw and how his experience inspired the melodious lyrics found in Warszawa [12:00] The creation of Warszawa’s ambient and mesmerising melody [14:25] The creation of Warszawa’s lyrics and how Bowie’s experience behind the Iron Curtain influenced these lyrics [17:03] How Low redefined Bowie’s musical career and impacted people on both sides of the Iron Curtain [19:19] Is Warszawa actually about Warsaw? Further reading Further listening Thanks

Agata Pyzik / critic, writer, author of Poor but Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West. Agata kindly agreed to take us on a walk following the footsteps of David Bowie's visit to Warsaw and tell us the story of Warszawa's creation. You can get her book here.

Chris O'Leary / writer, editor, and journalist based in western Massachusetts, author of the Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog, devoted to analysrd himself reading several lines from his book Rebel Rebel. You can get his amazing book here

The Culture.pl video team / for letting us use their recording of the walk with Agata Pyzik.

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski,  John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Weronika Fay

Sep 13 2017

22mins

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Rank #5: HUNT

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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?

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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 Further reading 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

Feb 14 2019

21mins

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Rank #6: ZBIGNIEW

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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.

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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 Credits

Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski

Aug 23 2019

25mins

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Rank #7: SHOETOPIA

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The Czech shoe-maker Tomáš Bat'a was a visionary. A deep believer in capitalism, he dreamt up a unique functionalist city and started building it around his factories in the small town of Zlin. It became more succesful than he could have imagined. Bat’a moved on to redesigning how his workers engaged in relationships, spent free-time and were educated – the very way they lived. It seemed that before WWII, Zlin was a unique place, a sort of... living UTOPIA!

Our producer Wojciech travelled to Zlin to do a reality check. How was the city doing almost a century after the death of its ‘founder’? Does it still live the utopian dream? What happened to the shoe factories and functionalist twin houses?

This episode is a Stories From The Eastern West co-production with About Building and Cities, a highly-respected podcast about architecture. Follow them on Twitterand Instagram, and consider supporting them via their Patreon.

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Time stamps

[01:07] Early days of the Bat'a Company [02:43] The Bat'a ground rules [06:50] Luke & George from AB+C break down Zlin's utopian architecture [14:02] Almost a hundred years apart, can we still judge the Batian system?  [19:20] Is it possible to export a city? [24:06] Thanks & credits

Further watching

Standing on Solid Ground / a gallery of Zlin’s most interesting sites / on Monocle.com

Further reading

Standing on Solid Ground / on Monocle.com

Designing for Living in Czech Republic / from the New York Times

Tourist map of Zlin / on use-it.travel

Thanks

Mariusz Szczygieł / for writing Gottland, the book that was stuck in our producer’s head for over a decade and inspired the whole journey. He is an highly-renowned journalist and writer.

Vit Jakubicek / for spending many hours with our producer and explaining the Batian system in great detail. Vit is a curator at the Zlin Regional Gallery and a lecturer at Tomas Bata University in Zlin.

Sonya Zhuravlyeva / for sharing her Zlin contacts with us. Sonya wrote an absolutely great article about Zlin for Monocle titled Standing On Solid Ground. She’s a freelance journalist, sub-editor and copywriter based in London.

Pavel Velev / for inviting us to the Bata Foundation villa and kindly devoting to us a good portion of his last day at work before he went on vacation. Pavel is director of the Tomas Bata Foundation.

Dr Zdenek Pokluda / for beautifully telling us the story of Batian business adventures. He is the author of a trilogy about Batian Zlin and a scholar at Tomas Bata University in Zlin.

Milan Balaban / for interpreting our interview with Dr Pokluda. Milan is a scholar at Tomas Bata University as well as a very helpful and kind man.

Lucie Smardova / for warmly inviting us to a local event and later to her home in one of the Bata houses. Lucy is an art historian and activist, she organises events popularising knowledge about Zlin’s original architecture and history. Together with her husband, she runs the Bata Infopoint, a good place to start discovering Zlin’s residential area.

Episode credits
  • Wojciech Oleksiak: script, scoring, sound design, mixing

  • Adam Zulawski: host, editing

  • Nitzan Reisner: host, guidance and protection

  • Luke Jones (AB+C): co-host

  • George Gingell (AB+C): co-host

Nov 22 2018

25mins

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Rank #8: BABY

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Delve into the fascinating background of classic horror film Rosemary’s Baby and learn how it was made.

In 1968, Rosemary’s Baby debuted in theaters and terrified unsuspecting audiences. The film was a box-office success and was widely acclaimed for its dark plot and disturbing realism. Moreover, many of the controversial issues it grappled with, such as Satanism and pregnancy, quickly made it one of the most iconic films of its generation. But in the aftermath of the film’s release, this story of success quickly becomes one of tragedy and mystery.

In this episode, we present the story of an innovative film that completely changed Hollywood and our understanding of how films should be made. You’ll learn about the origins of the film and how a little known director revolutionized Hollywood. We’ll discuss why this film was so unique in terms of style and aesthetic. Finally, we’ll look into the mysteries surrounding the film and the so-called curse of Rosemary’s Baby.

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Time stamps [02:33] Our guest and film expert Michał Oleszczyk paints the scene [04:27] Why was a little known European director chosen to direct an adaptation of the best selling novel? [08:55] What makes the film stand out? [14:31] Why there are hardly any special effects in Rosemary’s Baby? [16:39] How does the film comment on the current issues of its time? [19:10] Why’s the movie rumored to be cursed? [23:16] Did Rosemary’s Baby changed the horror genre? Further reading Thanks

Michał Oleszczyk / for inviting us to Collegium Artes Liberales and telling us everything we wanted to know about Rosemary's Baby but were afraid to ask. Michał is a film critic, University professor, and programmer. Following Michał's social media profiles is definitely a good idea. For English follow twitter/michaloleszczyk and we recommend following his facebook.com/michal.oleszczyk for Polish speaking audience. 

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, Nitzan Reisner, John Beauchamp & Michael Keller

Oct 25 2017

28mins

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Rank #9: BEAR

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Hear all about a brave bear named Wojtek who came to join the army in a time of war.

After being released from Soviet prison camps, exiled Polish soldiers reunited under General Władysław Anders and were informally dubbed ‘Anders Army’.  This army, after evacuating the Soviet Union, traveled to the Middle East to join Allied forces. While in Iran, the Anders’ Army added an unlikely member to their ranks who played an important role in the company as he helped to boost morale, carry ammunition, and perform guard duties.  Though this soldier may appear to be rather typical, he was far from it. He was, after all, a Syrian brown bear.

In this episode, our hosts John and Nitzan discuss the unbelievable story of Wojtek the bear and his legendary role in the 22nd Company of Anders’ Army. How did the army find this bear and why did they keep it, even incorporate it? How did Wojtek contribute to the military efforts? And what became of him after the war was over?

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Time stamps [02:10] A brief introduction to events in Poland during the Second World War [05:35] How Wojtek was introduced to the Anders’ Army [08:35] How Wojtek was incorporated into the army [11:14] How could a bear be tamed and trained as a soldier? [14:27] How did the soldiers manage to feed an animal as large as Wojtek? [15:58] How Wojtek helped his company at the Battle of Monte Cassino [17:57] What happened to Wojtek and his company following the battle [22:35] Wojtek’s impact on Polish soldiers and his legacy Further reading Further watching Thanks

Wojciech Narębski / emeritus professor of the Polish Academy of Sciences and ex-soldier of the Anders' Army, who kindly allowed us to interview him and told the story of the unit Wojtek served in.

Tadeusz Kaleta / professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, who kindly explained how bears behave in their natural habitat. 

Songs & sound clips On My Way to New Orleans / Performed by Arthur Collins and Byron G. Harlan; Issue Number: Edison Blue Amberol: 2650, Edison Record: 3744; Release year: 1915 Jazz Baby / Performed by Marion Harris; Released under Victor Records; Release year: 1919 WWII Chronicle / Film Bulletin; Produced by Signal Corps Photographic Center; Issue no 48 Air Raid Siren Sound Effect / A RNaudioproductions original recording  // Audio 2005 Writing on Paper with Pen Sound Effect / A SoundEffectsFactory original recording  

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Barbara Rogala

Aug 31 2017

23mins

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Rank #10: PALACE

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Find out about the creation of Stalin's controversial Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw.

Following World War II, much of Poland lay in ruins and unfortunately found itself on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.  Warsaw was no exception. By the end of the war, the city was virtually destroyed and for a short time many considered moving the capital elsewhere in Poland. Once the reconstruction efforts had begun, the Soviet Union, eager to spread their influence to the newly-formed communist nation, presented the Polish people with an architectural gift. That gift, the Palace of Culture and Science, was a 42-story Stalinist skyscraper that would be constructed right in the heart of Warsaw.

In the first episode of our two-part series on Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, our hosts discuss post-war reconstruction efforts in Warsaw and the strange origins of this Stalinist colossus. What were the immediate challenges of rebuilding a city that was almost entirely razed during the war?  Would the reconstructed city look like it did before the war? Or would older architectural designs be jettisoned in favor 'socialist realism'?  Lastly, why would this palace, a manifestation of Stalinist excess, be built in a city that still lay mostly in ruins?

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Time stamps

[03:44] What did Warsaw look like after the Second World War? [05:06] Why did some government officials want to move the Polish capital? [07:02] What was the conflict between modernists and conservatives during the post-war reconstruction efforts? [09:28] What was the chosen solution for rebuilding Warsaw? [11:53] Why did they decide to build a skyscraper in the middle of a ruined city? [14:48] What problems did the palace present for the devastated city? [15:22] What were the plans for construction and how were they carried out?  [19:07] What happened to the palace after it was built? [19:55] Palace: Part II preview

Further reading Thanks

Beata Chomątowska / for kindly agreeing to tell us the story of Warsaw being resurrected from the ashes. Beata is a writer, journalist and the president and co-founder of the Association of Social and Cultural Initiatives Stacja Muranów.

Michał Murawski / for generously devoting his lunch time to telling us about the social life of the palace. Michał is an anthropologist of architecture and cities based at the Department of Russian, Queen Mary, University of London.

America Programme at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute / for inviting us to the conference about the palace and making the interview with Michał Murawski possible.

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Lea Berriault, Nitzan Reisner & Michael Keller

Oct 04 2017

22mins

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Rank #11: MESMERISED

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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.

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You can also follow SFTEW on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

Further reading Further watching 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

Jan 03 2019

27mins

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Rank #12: EXPERIMENTAL

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Discover the Iron Curtain's unlikeliest music haven and the people who made it happen.

In 1957, the Polish Radio Experimental Studio (PRES) first opened its doors in Warsaw, and would very soon become an important European centre for the creation of exciting and original electro-acoustic music. But how did such a place even come to be built in Poland, just a few years after the death of Stalin and the severe artistic restrictions of Social Realism?

In this episode, you will find out what exactly went on inside the strange electronic depths of the PRES, and how through the efforts of its first director, Józef Patkowski, the studio became a 'window to the world', hosting the best composers from both the Eastern Bloc and the West. You'll also hear the remarkable story of Eugeniusz Rudnik, a technician from a small Polish village, who after spending countless hours helping out others with tape machines and signal generators found unexpected success and recognition.

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Further listening Further reading Further watching Thanks

Antoni Beksiak / for kindly initiating us into the technological and musical history of the studio. Antoni is a music critic, musician and festival curator (Turning Sounds et al.). He leads the bands Niewte and Gęba. 

Łukasz Strusiński / for inviting us to the International PRES Conference in Łódź (October 2017) and helping us navigate this topic. Łukasz is a classical music expert and part of the Master Project team at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Agnieszka Pindera / for sharing her knowledge about the studio and those closely involved with it, including Józef Patkowski, Eugeniusz Rudnik and Władysław Sokorski. Agnieszka is a curator at Muzeum Sztuki in Łodź and organiser of the International PRES Conference held at the museum in 2017.

Paweł Nowożycki / for talking to us about the iconic Black Room at PRES and its planned re-construction at the new Museum of Modern Art (MSN) building in Warsaw. Paweł is a curator at MSN and head of the PRES reconstruction project.

David Crowley / for shedding light on the historical and artistic background of the studio as a place of creative openness behind the Iron Curtain and its important links with Western studios and composers. David Crowley is the Head of the School of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner & Piotr Wołodźko

Dec 07 2017

28mins

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Rank #13: NAKED

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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…

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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 Further reading 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

Jan 17 2019

23mins

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Rank #14: PALACE II

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Learn how a strange unwanted building became a lasting symbol of a capital city.

In the first of our two-part series on Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, our hosts discussed the post-war rebuilding of the savagely-destroyed Warsaw and the controversial origins of the palace’s construction.

In the concluding part of our series, our hosts dive deeper into the palace’s corridors and explore the massive impact it has had on Warsaw. For example, after initial deliberation, what was the palace actually used for? What did people think of this palace shortly after its creation?  What do they think about it now? Above all, how has this palace, despite the controversy surrounding it, become a cultural icon for the city?

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Time stamps

[00:37] Brief recap of our last episode, about post-war Warsaw and the palace’s construction. [03:39] A guided audio tour through the palace itself. [11:20] What did Polish people think about the palace? [13:37] Why did people write letters to the palace and what did they write about? [18:00] How did the palace become the focal point of public debate after the fall of communism? [23:00] How has the palace come to be a lasting symbol of Warsaw?

Further reading Thanks

Michał Murawski / for generously devoting his lunchtime to telling us about the social life of the palace. Michał is architecture and city anthropologist based at the Department of Russian, Queen Mary’s, University of London.

Maria Wojtysiak / for telling us about her childhood ties with the palace, and explaining why she decided to fight to put it on the list of Poland’s Objects of Cultural Heritage. Maria is a renowned architect and a member of numerous organisations that aim to preserve Warsaw’s historical buildings.

Czesław Bielecki / for sharing his ideas about turning the palace into a museum about communism. Czesław is an architect and political activist, a former political prisoner of the communist state, and a democratic dissident.

Createtours / for kindly giving us an in-depth tour of the palace and telling us all their entertaining stories about it.

The America Programme at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute / for inviting us to their conference about the palace and making the interview with Michał Murawski possible.

SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, Lea Berriault, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner & Michael Keller

Oct 11 2017

27mins

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Rank #15: SUPERSTAR

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In 1863, the 3-year-old Ignacy Jan Paderewski probably wasn’t aware that his fellow Polish countrymen were in the midst of a doomed uprising against the autocratic ruler of his homeland. But he de­finitely knew something was wrong when Russian Tsarist police arrested his father, dragging him away while the young Ignacy tried to stop them.

As a young man, Paderewski was determined to do something about his country's plight. It had been completely wiped off the map almost a century earlier, and as the 19th century came to a close, an independent Poland seemed impossible. Using rifles and sabres to win freedom clearly wasn’t going to be enough. A different kind of weapon had to be found.

For Paderewski, this weapon would be music...

This episode was produced with the help of the National Museum in Warsaw.

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Time stamps

[00:28] The many stories about Paderewski we don't tell  [01:36] Historical Background [03:48] Paderewski chooses music as his weapon of choice... [06:57] ...and becomes a superstar... [11:29] ...only to turn into a politician [15:04] World War I  [21:50] Paderewski puts Poland back on the map... [23:36] ...and returns to music! [25:17] Thanks and credits

Further reading Further watching & listening Thanks

Marek Żebrowski / for sharing with us his extensive expertise on Paderewski, and even playing Paderewski’s pieces for us on the piano. Marek is a concert pianist and composer, as well as director of the Polish Music Center at USC Thornton School of Music. He is also director of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, California,

Adam Zamoyski/ for telling us about how Paderewski rose to become a world-famous pianist and the first prime minister of a newly-independent Poland. He is a London-based historian and best-selling author.

​​​​Nelson Goerner / for agreeing to talk to us about Paderewski as a performer and composer. Nelson is a renowned Argentinian concert pianist. In 2015, he recorded Paderewski’s piano concerto with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The National Museum in Warsaw / our partner for this episode, for their knowledge, support and co-operation, especially Ewa Drygalska & Magdalena Pinker.

Eliza Rose & Nial Morgan / for tape syncing the interview with Marek Żebrowski at his LA home 9 timezones away.

SFTEW team credits
  • Wojciech Oleksiak: editing, scoring, sound design, mixing
  • Piotr Wołodźko: production
  • Nitzan Reisner: host, wind beneath our wings
  • Adam Zulawski: host, script

Nov 09 2018

26mins

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