Category: Cold War

    Duck and Cover: 1951 Civil Defense Film for Kids

    Interesting to consider that this was a reality for school kids in the early days of the Cold War. By the 1970s, when I was in school and aware of such things, such an understanding of nuclear weapons would have seemed extremely naive.

    In the mid-1980s, in the field artillery, we were taught to drop to the ground, asses to the blast and hands between our legs. That was for tactical nuclear artillery rounds, but it felt just as silly.

    Source and further details: Prelinger Archives, hosted by the Internet Archive.

    Grafenwรถhr 1983

    Streaky old scan of two GIs in the field in Germany, full gear, each blowing smoke from his mouth

    A younger historian on Facebook called this picture a “Nice primary source of the late Cold War!” I donโ€™t know what that makes me, the guy in front, but I decided to share here too.

    โ€œConflictโ€ (USSR 1983)

    A stop-motion short by Garri Yakovlevich Bardin (born 1941) about the dangers of possessing, then using, a doomsday weapon.

    Hosted at the Internet Archive.

    The Cold War Museum

    The Cold War Museum does not yet have a permanent home, but you can visit it on the web. While I welcome this resource, I am disappointed that it focuses almost exclusively on the military side of this conflict. What about the Cold War's broader impact on culture, politics, and the economy?

    I suppose the museum's current focus cannot be helped, given its close relationship with the Cold War Veterans Association, with which it issues a quarterly electronic newsletter. This association seeks recognition for the service of Cold War veterans and promotes the memory of what was in no small part their achievement. Still, veterans would do well to remember the strong connections between military and civilian life. U.S. armed forces did not simply protect the homeland. The Cold War was fought on the homefront too. And what about the relationship between the American homefront and U.S. military forces deployed around the world?

    I hope the museum also finds more room for critical analysis than the website currently evinces. While I understand the need for celebration, the Cold War Museum and the Cold War Veterans Association need to ask tougher questions, especially with regard to the Cold War's impact on the current state of our military and its relationship with civilian society. This is more than simply an academic question. Do not the men and women that our country places in harm's way deserve honest scholarship that can help the military to become an even more effective instrument of war and peace?