Helen has worked with London Grid for Learning (LGfl), an educational charity which provides online learning resources for London schools. Its aim is to advance education. Together they have developed and created two major history resources for its educational platform, The M Room and The Cold War, which consist of unique videos and content.
The importance of filming on location cannot be overestimated – it provides a ‘sense of place’ and context where history happened. The M Room Resource provides the first unique educational programme for schools about the clandestine eavesdropping operation of the Second World War. At the heart of this resource is the
story of the German and Austrian Jewish refugees who became secret listeners. They secretly bugged the conversations of over 10,000 German prisoners of war, including Hitler’s captured Generals, and gained intelligence for the Allies.
Fritz Lustig pictured at Wilton Park.
Drawing on Helen’s primary research, LGfl filmed with Helen at key locations relevant to this resource. It took them to the Tower of London as well as Latimer House and Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire. They interviewed former secret listener Fritz Lustig, who had escape Nazi Germany in 1939. Fritz passed away in 1997 and thus this interview is now rare for being one of the few that he gave to camera during his lifetime. That interview connects the audience in a very powerful way to history as he was living testimony to that past.
The filming at Wilton Park proved equally important because the site’s last remaining World War Two building was demolished just a year after we filmed there. LGfl enabled that vital piece of history to be captured forever.
Helen comments; “History is never finished. The exciting part of my job as a historian is to
discover new information that changes our understanding of the history that has shaped our world.”
The Cold War Resource offers an in-depth view of some of the central history of the Cold War that is covered by the schools’ curriculum. Helen travelled with a team from LGfl to Berlin to speak about that history in situ and to provide a sense of the atmosphere of life behind the Iron Curtain from 1945 until the 1990s. We filmed beside the remnants of the Berlin Wall with its colourful graffiti, as well as inside the stark contrast of the infamous Stasi prison where political prisoners were held in brutal conditions.
Espionage is almost synonymous with the Cold War and we were able to interview the spy
writer Frederick Forsyth to understand his life behind the Iron Curtain as a journalist in 1962 and also understand the inspiration for him behind many of his novels and how he writes fiction.
In the UK we filmed at the Kelverton Hatch Nuclear Bunker in Essex and the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. The bunker gave a sense of the nuclear risks at stake in the Cold War and how a nation prepared for it, as well as giving a sense of the isolation between East and West during this tense period of the 20th century. At Duxford, we were able to understand the technology that was created in the Cold War – from spy planes to nuclear submarines.
Helen says, “Working with LGfl has given me the opportunity to share my love and knowledge
of history from my own research with a new generation and to educate.”