Cold War History: The nuclear attack on the UK that never happened

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From the 1984 Film, “Threads”, By the BBC.

In 1982, a secret Home Office exercise tested the UK’s capacity to rebuild after a massive nuclear attack. Files recently released at the National Archives detail one short-lived proposal to recruit psychopaths to help keep order.

More than 300 megatons of nuclear bombs are detonated over Britain, in the space of a 16-hour exchange. Many cities are flattened – millions are dead from the blast, millions more have survived and suffer radiation sickness. In bunkers are 12 regional commissioners with their staff, ready to come out and take charge. How do they do this? How do they restore order and begin to rebuild?

This was what a top-secret Home Office exercise intended to test in 1982, according to documents recently released at the National Archives. Optimistically termed Regenerate, this was a war game covering the first six months after the nuclear exchange of World War Three. It focused on one central region, the five counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.

Officials imagined what would happen after the bombs had dropped. They knew the most likely targets in the area, and predicted how “rings” of damage would affect the country. At the epicentres of the bombs, there would be “unimaginable” damage, on the outer ring “broken panes” and “debris in the streets”. The scientific advisers estimated 50% of the country would be untouched – though survivors could be affected by radiation fallout.

Read more of the stunning article at the BBC.

Newly released documents reveal U.S. Cold War nuclear target list (From 1956)

SACU.S. plans for nuclear war in 1959 included the “systematic destruction” of major urban centers like East Berlin, Moscow and Beijing — with the populations of those cities among the primary military targets.

The National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed study produced in 1956 that includes a list of the United States’ targets were nuclear war to break out between the superpowers in three years.

The Strategic Air Command’s study offers new insight into the Cold War planning — and worries that United States warplanes would have to unleash overwhelming destruction in an all-out war with the Soviet Union.

The list was made public as a result of a 2006 records request by William Burr, a senior analyst at George Washington University’s National Security Archive who directs the group’s nuclear history documentation project. It is titled the “SAC (Strategic Air Command) Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959.”

“Their target priorities and nuclear bombing tactics would expose nearby civilians and ‘friendly forces and people’ to high levels of deadly radioactive fallout,” Burr wrote this week in an analysis of the government’s plans.

“Moreover,” Burr wrote, “the authors developed a plan for the ‘systematic destruction’ of Soviet bloc urban-industrial targets that specifically and explicitly targeted ‘population’ in all cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin, and Warsaw.”

The primary aim of the U.S. plan was eliminating Soviet Union air power — which was regarded as key in the event of the Soviets attempting to deploy their own nuclear weapons, since today’s long-range missiles and submarine launchers didn’t yet exist.


Read the Report at the National Security Archive at The George Washington University.

Flashback News: Vienna was top of Soviet nuclear targets list

Nuclear-Explosion-001Vienna would have been one of the first victims of a Soviet nuclear strike on Western Europe despite its neutral status, according to documents detailing the cities to be attacked during a third world war.

The Austrian capital was joined by Munich and Verona in the list of population centres earmarked for destruction by Warsaw Pact planners preparing for war in 1965.

The documents, unearthed in Hungarian archives by a team of Swiss researchers, give an insight into the attitudes of the Soviet high command.

Officers conducting a high-level command exercise did not clarify whether the use of Soviet nuclear weapons had been preceded by a Nato strike, raising the suspicion that the Russians were not impressed by the concept of nuclear deterrence.

The planners assumed that Nato would be equally ruthless, with Budapest and other Warsaw Pact cities meeting the same fate as Vienna in the early stages of a war.

Austria’s neutrality, established after the Second World War, was not even considered, it being assumed that Nato would violate her territory at the first opportunity.

The target list is contained in a joint Soviet-Hungarian planning document. In one scenario the Warsaw Pact looses off 7.5 megatons of nuclear weapons on Western targets.

Vienna is completely destroyed by two 500 kiloton bombs, while Munich is destroyed by one. The Italian cities of Verona and Vicenza follow, together with a host of military targets including airfields and military formations.

Read More of the 2001 article from The Telegraph UK.

A Rare Look At The Abandoned Military Bases Of The USSR

Abandoned Air Base in Mongolia (Photo by Eric Lusito).

Abandoned Air Base in Mongolia (Photo by Eric Lusito).

Photographer Eric Lusito was only 12 when he witnessed the destruction of the Berlin Wall on television in his native Italy. At that point, he had little understanding of the impact the Iron Curtain had on Europe and Asia, but the looks relief on the faces he saw on TV left an indelible mark on him.

After working for a few years, Lusito left his industrial job and hit the roads of Europe in his van with a camera and little to no plan. He had a chance meeting with a geography professor in the Czech Republic who invited him on a trek to discover an abandoned Soviet military base.

It was a life-changing experience.

“I started to understand the power that the Red Army represented and the fear that it provoked … I decided to seek out these military remains throughout the former Soviet territories, relics of the ambition and power of the USSR,” Lusito says.

Read and see more of the photos here at Business Insider. Visit Eric’s website here.

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