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The Cold War period between 1947 and 1991 grew of extreme tension between the Western and Eastern blocks, known as the axis of powers. Famed writer George Orwell cited the term “Cold War” in his essay “You and the Atomic Bomb,” which was published just after World War II. Feelings about our Soviet allies in that war would change greatly. Here are 10 facts about the Cold War.
1. In an effort to demonstrate power, the United States prepared to execute Project A119, which would consist of detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon’s surface. This was in 1958, when the space race between the U.S. and Russia was gaining momentum. But the project was canceled in 1959 when U.S. powers believed the public would perceive it as a negative and the possibility of extreme devastation should something go wrong with the launch.
2. Soccer fields spotted along the coast of Cuba in 1962 nearly sparked World War 3. President Kennedy surmised that Russians must have been infiltrating the region preparing missiles and attacks. So when Russia sent 25 ships toward Cuba, the White House began to act. But the Russian leader quickly claimed the missiles in Cuba were only there as defensive precautions and promised to remove them if the U.S. did not attack. The Soviet ships turned around and conflict, at the last minute, was avoided.
3. In late 2007, the hot dog stand in the Pentagon’s courtyard was torn down. This came after many years of intrigue with the Russians, who were convinced it was a top secret meeting point for U.S. military leaders and led to an underground bunker. Satellite images led the Russians to believe the Pentagon was built around this small building to throw off its significance. It was later revealed, with a bit of a chuckle, that it was, indeed, merely a hot dog stand.
4. Fearing that the Soviets might cut undersea communications cables that carried international dialog between military leaders, Project West Ford was carried out between 1961 and 1963. It was the launch of millions of antennas and needles into orbit to facilitate global communications. The project was successful in May of 1963, but was pushed aside with the advent of the modern communications satellite. As of this year, there are still 38 clumps of needles in orbit. Occasionally, some will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
5. In 1988, two American ships – the USS Yorktown cruiser and the destroyer USS Caron – moved into Russian waters near Crimea. The Russians alerted the ships that they were in Soviet waters, but the ships refused to leave, saying they were in international waters. The Russians did not want to fire upon the ships so they did the next best thing – they rammed them. They rammed them with two of their own ships. All vessels were damaged but there were no reported casualties.
6. A U2 spy plane shot down in Russia in May of 1960 was not supposed to happen. President Eisenhower was informed the plane, which could fly at 70,000 feet, could not be hit… but it was. The spy planes were flying over Russia to see if missiles were aimed at America. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev showed the wreckage of the plane and a humiliated Eisenhower had to admit the U.S. had been committing espionage.
7. In Moscow, a museum highlights artifacts from U.S., Russian conflicts. One of the more interesting exhibits are the passports displayed from both Russian and U.S. agents. Between 1946 and 1960, each country used different types of staples for their passports. The Russian staples would rust and corrode fairly quickly, while American passports were put together with stainless steel staples. Many American agents were discovered because of these clean staples.
8. During the 1985 Geneva Summit, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev took a secret walk to a nearby cabin with only their interpreters at their sides. Reagan had a very important question to ask Gorbachev. He put the Cold War issues aside and asked if the Russians would help Americans if they were to be attacked by aliens from outer space. The Russian leader said, “No doubt about it!” Regan responded with, “We would help you as well.”
9. Operation Tamarisk was a Cold War mission that most all U.S., U.K. and French spies had a major problem with. It involved going through trash bins and looking for important discarded documents, with many of these documents having been used as toilet paper before being thrown away. The complaints by U.S. and allied spies were many. They were also told to bring back any discarded limbs from hospital bins to study the type of shrapnel the Soviets were using.
10. For 50 years, the French lived in mystery over several people from a village going insane, with at least 5 confirmed deaths. It was learned in 2010 that the CIA secretly laced the bread from a bakery in Pont-Saint-Esprit with huge quantities of LSD in mind-control experiments. One man attempted to drown himself, another said he seen his heart escaping through his feet, an 11-year-old boy tried to strangle his grandmother. Many were taken to the local insane asylum and put in strait jackets.
That’s all for today. Let us know if you were surprised by another of these Cold War stories. Don’t forget to like us and be sure to subscribe for more stories like this. Get addicted to the good stuff.