Current tensions in Ukraine bring back memories of Cold War

On March 16, 1972, an article in The Carroll Record explained one of the basic building blocks of the Cold War era, the fallout shelter.

"Today's Paper Has Community Fallout Shelter Plan — The new community fallout shelter plan for Carroll County is included in this newspaper. …"


The article reported, "According to the County commissioners, 'The information developed in the plan could save the lives of thousands of persons in the event of attack. …' "

The recent tensions between Russia and the West over the civil unrest in the Ukraine and Crimean Peninsula have renewed an interest in Cold War nostalgia.

Although historians differ on the dates of the Cold War, many agree that the era began shortly after the end of World War II and lasted until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

During the first decade of the Cold War, much of the public education about being prepared, for what was considered by many to be the inevitable nuclear attack by the Soviet Union, was developed by the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

The imaginative government agency was created by President Harry Truman in January 1951. It was responsible for developing educational films, school programs, ads and brochures as to how we might save ourselves in the event of a nuclear attack.

Who can remember the school air raid drill in which you were to hide underneath your desk, or in the hallway? Remember drop to the floor, duck and cover your head, to protect yourself from flying debris and getting burned by the nuclear blast.

Some schools distributed dog tags so that the bodies of the dead students could easily be identified.

In August 1961, "The Baltimore Evening Sun," published a 32-page brochure titled, "If an ATTACK comes…" by John D. Hackett. It stated that, "Baltimore is a 'critical target' for an enemy bomb. … If the enemy dropped an H-bomb in this area right now — could you come out alive?"

The brochure urged residents to, "Dive for cover at once if H-bomb hits. … It gets hot as a furnace. … You may live through it. Don't look up. Bury your head in your arms. Stay put. …"

The Carroll Record article of 42 years ago quotes the Carroll County commissioners as saying: "This information has been the result of careful analysis and professional planning. We hope that the people of Carroll County will read the information carefully and then put in with their other valuable papers. …"

The plan, according to the article, "tells how to improvise a shelter at home as well as listing public shelters in the county and giving practical information on subjects such as provision of supplies and waste disposal. Friends and neighbors of readers of this newspaper who do not receive a copy of the plan may get one by writing or call the county Civil Defense office, 66 E. Main Str., Westminster."