New York State Civil Defense Commission Advice on Nuclear Fallout? Not So Helpful…


During the 1950’s and 1960’s the United States and the USSR were taking part in a Cold War.  There was a very high threat of an all out nuclear war, which could potentially destroy the world.  In a true capitalist nation people thought of ways to make money off of this policy of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).  Suddenly retailers began selling fallout shelters that could supposedly withstand a nuclear blast and fallout for a certain portion of time.  Government agencies, such as the State Civil Defense Commission of New York as seen in this video, gave tips on how to protect yourself and your farm animals from fallout.  Now they suggest putting bales of hay in front of windows of a barn to keep out radiation, so that just shows you how much they knew.  The point is that everyone knew the all too realistic possibility of nuclear war occurring, and there were measures taken to make Americans feel safer in this tense time.


Beating Down on America

The Beats were a group of poets and writers who rejected the lifestyle of the conventional society. The Beats came together in places like New York City, San Francisco, and other college towns. Common beliefs and values endorsed by the Beats were spontaneous behavior, immediate gratification through the use of drugs, and sexual exploration. The Beats were against the transformation of America into a society, whose focus was on work, material consumption of goods and services, and the war-effort. Even though the Cold War advertised that freedom was the defining characteristic of America, the Beats believed individual and political inhibition were more accurate terms in depicting the country.

Many wonderful pieces of literature came out of the Beat Generation. For instance, the novel, On the Road, by the Beat writier, Jack Kerouac, described the nomadic protagonist’s adventures across the country. This book inspired the youth, who also disapproved the traditions of the middle-class but were unable to find a substitutable culture. Another popular Beatnik was Allen Ginsberg, the author of Howl (1955). The book condemned the practice of materialism and submission to popular culture.


Boom Boom Baby Boom!

During the 1950s many changes began to occur across the nation. The war was over, soldiers were coming home, and businesses started booming. As more skyscrapers were being built, residents were being pushed out to move into the suburbs causing a great rise in suburban communities. Not only was their a rise in the communities, but the average family began increasing and the baby boom occurred.

The average family had 4 children, as women began marrying younger to keep from pre-marital sex. The change in mentality from pre-war to post-war changed the way Americans lived. Feminism was no more and the technological advances such as the barcode and credit cards were invented.


The Hollywood Ten


In there was a Hollywood blacklist that consisted of  a list of actors, writers, directors, musicians and other entertainers. Their political beliefs and associations, regardless of their validity, caused them to be targets. This blacklist was created around mid 20th century. In 1947, a group of screenwriters and directors were the first to be victims of this blacklist when they chose not to give their testimonies.They were banned from further working in the entertainment industry. It was not until 1960 that the blacklist was thrown away. Because they were banned, we missed out on a decade worth of entertainment. That is 10 years of movies, shows, or of the such that could’ve topped movie charts for centuries to come.


The Berlin Blockade

At the end of WWII, each of the four major nations that had won the war took control over sections of Germany and of the capital city of Berlin as well.  Eventually there were different currencies from the different occupiers floating around in the different “zones” and it led to the split.  This area would be know as west Germany, an ally to the US, French, and British.  This area was far into a dangerous area that the Soviets had control over, bordering Soviet East Germany.  In response to the split of Germany, the Soviets blockaded the area, blocking all supply lines to West Germany.  They blocked road and rail traffic completely.  The only way to get supplies into West Germany, to their allies, was by air.  An 11month air drop of supplies then followed, mainly consisting of food and fuel.

A direct result of this blockade was the creation of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was the first peace time treaty that was militaristic in nature.  Its main purpose was to stop the spread of Communism, and protect America and the European nations whom signed it. The idea was that if Communists took control of one country all the others would join together and fight it back.  Had we not had NATO, the US may have potentially become communist, or worse we might not be here do to the concept of “MAD” (Mutually Assured Destruction).  This ideology was essentially that if the Soviet Union launched its nuclear missiles at the US, we would launch ours right back at them, thus obliterating each other, and potentially the world.


The Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry Truman on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere. Truman stated the Doctrine would be “the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”  Truman reasoned, because these “totalitarian regimes” coerced “free peoples,” they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States. While his request was limited to $400 million in military aid to two governments, Truman’s rhetoric had assumed that the US had assumed a permanent global resposibility.

If Truman never became president and made this doctrine, Greece and Turkey could have been taken by th Soviet Union and fallen to cummunism. Communism could have spread to major portions of the world as well as to the US. Then the fear of the Americans that the communist will take away their freedom would come true.


The Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This was impacted by the events that took place during World War ll and the Cold War. Because of the inhumane treatment by the Nazis during World War ll, a variety of rights were set in place for people around the world to enjoy. I believe that history would have been different without this enactment. Nations would not take into consideration the judgment of other nations and continue to oppress its citizens, limiting their rights and benefits. Although there was no enforcement to this declaration, it became a prominent ideal to treat people across the world with respect. Had this event not occur, the America today would be more involved with intervening with international disputes regarding the treatment of human beings.


I Pledge Allegiance to Anti-Communism

In the midst of the Cold War, many programs were enacted to ensure American patriotism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established to conduct hearings  about the presence of communism in Hollywood motion pictures. In these hearings, actors, directors, and screenwriters were summoned for questioning by the committee. Of the witnesses, 10, known as the Hollywood Ten, declined to answer questions concerning their political allegiances or disclose names of those who were communist. The Hollywood Ten believed their 1st Amendment rights were infringed. As a result, the committee charged them with contempt of Congress and were sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. Besides the Hollywood Ten, more than 200 other people were also charged with communist sympathies or the refusal to name names.

Had the HUAC never been formed during the Cold War, history might have run a different course. The aim of the HUAC was to contain and control the spread of communism beliefs and values in the movie industry. In reality, the HUAC did not find substantial evidence of individuals who hold communist sympathies. However, if the HUAC was not there to screen the individuals, those who were communist could have used the opporutnity to promote communist ideas. If those individual succeed, communism could have seeped into the minds of ordinary Americans.


What do you think?


The Red Menace was one of many anticommunist movies and media that America produced during the Cold War. These movies acted as a propaganda that criticized communism and brought a negative view of it. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a policy called “militant liberty” was used in movie productions that inserted a theme of freedom. Militant liberty shaped many viewers’ opinions of communism and instilled a Pro-American view of the nation. This was used frequently in films during 1940s to 1950 proposing anti-Nazi and anti- communist opinions to viewers.
I am sure America would be very different today if this policy had not existed. By producing many anti-communism films, the opinion of Americans towards communism had undoubtedly become negative. If this had not happened, Americans probably would have had polarized views of communism. This would definitely hurt the nation’s unity and give communism a fight chance at changing our country today.


Fall of Berlin Wall

Erected in 1961, the Berlin wall seperated eastern and western Berlin. The main purpose of the wall was to prevent any radical idea’s from entering and corrupting the socialist society that dominated the easern side of Berlin. After the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the Berlin fell as well, marking the end of the cold war.


Cold War

The war was “cold” only in the sense that because they had nuclear weapons the two superpowers never confronted one another directly in open warfare. however, their global competition led to frequent world crises and regional confrontation on every continent.