US History: Cold War Intrigue 1950 - 1960
Cold War Alliances
The Nuclear Threat Veiled A Decade
The Cold War began as World War II ended and continued until the fall of the Berlin Wall in1989 and the collapse of the USSR, around 1990 - 1991. It particularly darkened the decade of the 1950s.
The Cold War involved spies and counterspies, new technology, and the constant threat of nuclear destruction. School children were taught to "duck and cover", to hide underneath their chairs and cover up their heads with their arms. Unfortunately, this would not prevent death or severe cellular damage from nuclear radiation.
Additional Cold War Alliances Southward
Bomb Shelters and Radiation
The 1950s and early 1960s were times of the backyard Bomb Shelter.
In downtown Columbus, Ohio, at least one building in every block was equipped with a heavily reinforced basement area that could shield people against a nuclear attack. These shelters were advertised with a large metal image of a nuclear radiation insignia.
The USA tested nuclear bombs below ground in the American West and on what they thought were uninhabited islands. This was not always the case. People that lived close to these areas suffered some affects of radiation. The USSR tested nuclear bombs as well.
In the 21st century, Russian nuclear submarines for 40 years previously lie, still submerged, in the bays of St. Petersburg, their nuclear reactors and radioactive materials decaying into the surrounding waters and entering the food and water supply of the people. The book and film K-19 tells the true story of this ongoing mishap.
Real Wars were fight by America during this time, but named as somethings else: The Korean Conflict or Police Action and the Vietnam Conflict (begun with the French interest and picked up by the US in the late 50s via US military advisers that helped American to decide to escalate into the conflict status.)
Cold War Timeline
Timeline: Early Cold War Years
Early Cold War Years Timeline
- Korean Conflict: 1950 - 1953
- Senator Joseph McCarthy began a Communist witch hunt, alluded to in Arthur Millers Play The Crucible about Salem, Massachusetts' witch hunts. A modern treatment of the situation is found in the powerful novel Fellow Travelers.
- President Harry Truman authorized the construction and use of the Hydrogen Bomb.
- Truman signed a peace treaty with Japan. Some soldiers on the islands of the South Pacific were late in being notified of the end of WWII.
- Polio vaccine was created by Dr. Jonas Salk.
- Korean Conflict ended.
- General Dwight David Eisenhower elected President, Richard Nixon, VP.
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were tried and executed for espionage against the US and the Allies in WWII. Portions of the proceedings were televised and some people giving testimony did so from a bulletproof glass chamber in the courtroom.
- Segregation was decided illegal in the USA by Brown v. Board of Education.
- Rosa Parks refused to move away from the front seats of the bus and became a national figure. Many years later, the old bus was found rusting in a yard, was restored, and now sits at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan.
- The Warsaw Pact of the Cold War was signed.
- McDonald's was founded by Ray Kroc,changing the nature of dining and of hiring practices in the USA .
- Disneyland opened in California amid huge crowds.
- November: A group of 14 men on assignment to test a new U2 spy plane at Area 51 in Nevada crashed into the Las Vegas Mountains.
- USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev denounced Josef Stalin and Marxism.
- Soviet Satellite Sputnik is the first vehicle into space in the Space Race.
- NASA was founded, and its first missiles launched.
- Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago) refused the Nobel Prize.
- Fidel Castro became the leader of Communist Cuba. After 50 years, his brother would replace him.
- An international treaty was signed to make Antarctica a scientific outpost and natural preserve.
- The "Kitchen Debate" occurred, VP Nixon vs. USSR's Nikita Khrushchev.
- The first televised presidential debates were aired: VP Richard M. Nixon vs. Senator John F. Kennedy. This event forever changed the nature of Presidential campaigning in the USA.
- November 1960: America elected its first Irish Catholic President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
JFK Speeches That Apply to 9/11 and 21st Century America
Cold War Plans of USSR
Soviet Plans In the Cold War
2010 Report: Did the CIA Run a Soviet Agency?
Involvement of Eastern Europe and Asia
Spies and Espionage
Spy vs Spy
A Cuban political cartoonist, Prohias noted that anyone that was not visibly and vocally for Communism under Fidel Castro was tagged as anti-communism. To portray this black and white thinking, he came up with the spy dressed in black and the spy dressed in white. They targeted only each other and no one else got hurt. although neither one stayed ahead of the spy game for very long.
In 1960, Prohias fled to America under extreme pressure from the Communist government in Cuba and practiced cartooning on his own until he took some samples to Mad Magazine, which began publishing them in the 1961 January edition (see slide show link to the right).
Prohias wrote the strip for the newspapers and Mad Magazine until the late 1980s and lived until 1998. He lived to see the Berlin Wall come down and the USSR come apart.
My favorite cartoonist with Mad Magazine, Prohias always signed his strip in Morse Code, a further indication of the intrigue of war and cold war:
_... _.__ .__. ._. ___ .... .. ._ ... (by Prohias).
Cold War Spies in Pop Culture
Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial
Cold War Museums
- Families commemorate memorial to 14 men killed in 1955 plane crash | Las Vegas Review-Journal
A throng of surviving family members gathered Friday for the grand opening of the U.S. Forest Service’s Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway. They dedicated a memorial to 14 men who died when a transport plane crashed near the snow-capped, Mount Charlest
- The Cold War Museum
Fairfax, Virginia. Virtual tour, 1940s - 1990s.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS