Special Forces Berlin

Clandestine Cold War Operations of the US Army's Elite, 1956–1990

James Stejskal

Special Forces Berlin relates the history of a little known and highly classified US Army Special Forces Detachment that was covertly stationed in Berlin, Germany from 1956 to 1990, poised to act if war ever broke out between the West and the Soviet Union and its allies.
Publication date:
March 2017
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
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ISBN : 9781612004440

Dimensions : 236 X 159 mm
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ISBN : 9781612008431

Dimensions : 229 X 152 mm
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• No book has been published on this elite unit
• The author, a veteran of the unit, is one of very few who could ever write its history
• The narrative is based on first-hand accounts from the special forces operatives in the unit and the little official documentation that survives
• Foreword by LTG Charles Cleveland, former commanding general US Army Special Operations Command
• The book includes a unique selection of 170 cleared photos

It is a little-known fact that during the Cold War, two U.S. Army Special Forces detachments were stationed far behind the Iron Curtain in West Berlin. The existence and missions of the two detachments were highly classified secrets.

The massive armies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies posed a huge threat to the nations of Western Europe. US military planners decided they needed a plan to slow the juggernaut they expected when and if a war began. The plan was Special Forces Berlin. The first 40 men who came to Berlin in mid-1956 were soon reinforced by 60 more and these 100 soldiers (and their successors) would stand ready to go to war at only two hours' notice, in a hostile area occupied by nearly one million Warsaw Pact forces, until 1990.

Their mission should hostilities commence was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, and buy time for vastly outnumbered NATO forces to conduct a breakout from the city. In reality it was an ambitious and extremely dangerous mission, even suicidal. Highly trained and fluent in German, each man was allocated a specific area. They were skilled in clandestine operations, sabotage, intelligence tradecraft and able to act if necessary as independent operators, blending into the local population and working unseen in a city awash with spies looking for information on their every move.

Special Forces Berlin was a one of a kind unit that had no parallel. It left a legacy of a new type of soldier expert in unconventional warfare, one that was sought after for other deployments including the attempted rescue of American hostages from Tehran in 1979. With the U.S. government officially acknowledging their existence in 2014, their incredible story can now be told.


The reader learns not only the history, but also the individual soldier's motivations and way of thinking. The work leaves nothing to be desired and closes gaps in the history of the Cold War…I recommend this book highly.
Colonel Friedrich Jeschonnek (German Army Retired), Editor, Hardthöhenkurier

Reads like a thriller for much of the time - a small, select force ready for action should the Soviets escalate their activities in Western Europe - nothing much has changed in the last sixty years or so!
Books Monthly

The Cold War in Europe is an often overlooked part of American military history because it stayed cold. But as this book shows, for the men serving on the front lines next to the Iron Curtain, conflict was always a real possibility that could happen at any time. Their sacrifice and service helped ensure the eventual collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the peaceful reunification of Germany.
New York Journal of Books

This book is excellent and it is well written. One characteristic the Directorate of Operations and the Directorate of Intelligence at CIA had in common: understandable diction. Every sentence and every word is understandable.
International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence

More akin to a spy thriller...Truly a fascinating time, which this intriguing book examines from an entirely fresh perspective.
History of War Magazine

I strongly recommend this book...this is one of the best examples of applied unconventional warfare in special operations history.
Small Wars Journal.com

Special Forces Berlin is a must-read for military historians and should be mandatory reading for future generations of professional military leaders. In addition to adding to the body of knowledge of the Cold War years, the author—himself a former Green Beret—has lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding an elite Special Forces organization.
Association of the United States Army

This study is rewarding for anyone interested in the Cold War, Special Forces, or Berlin. In fact, this is a considerable achievement, a contribution to history that gives the reader a micro-view of the realities of military life.
Dr Jonathan House, Professor Emeritus at USACGSC

A fascinating look inside special ops in the Cold War period.
The Armourer