The Cold War was a period of “tensions” between the West and the East. The struggle of communism and capitalism both affected and shaped the whole world. What happened in almost every field, from military conflicts to secret political calculations, from the fight to divide the world to the race to conquer space, caused many people to have “tense” years. In fact, different ways of life were struggling between East and West at the base of the Cold War.
The balances were therefore very delicate and the strings were therefore extremely tight. This tension, which continued throughout the Cold War years, caused “states” to suffer from “paranoia” as well as people. As such, any military exercise could be considered a sign of war, or states could demand strange things from their spies. On the other hand, the Cold War is considered to be the determinant of many things today. However, the Cold War, which was the harshest “truth” in the world in its years, is full of legends today… Here are 6 misunderstood things about the Cold War period…
1. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the only time the world came close to nuclear war
The Cuban Missile Crisis is the blockade of the region by the United States as a result of Cuba’s nuclear weapons agreement with the Soviets. This move of the USA further increased the tension in the spirit of the period. Thus, indeed, the world had come to the brink of nuclear war. However, the common sense of John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev saved the world from destruction!
Today, the Cuban Missile Crisis may seem like the only moment that could cause the Cold War to turn into a “nuclear war.” However, this crisis was just one of the “little disagreements” of the era! Far more serious things that could plunge the world into nuclear war were the ordinary events of the Cold War Era!
The NATO exercise called Able Archer, which was held in 1983, brought the whole world closer to nuclear war than the missile crisis! Able Archer was a very realistic military exercise with thousands of soldiers and vehicles. After this large-scale exercise began, the Soviets raised their alert level and began their own preparations. But with a slight twist, Soviet planes were carrying real nuclear bombs! Moreover, not only planes, but also submarines in different regions had nuclear weapons ready! Fortunately, General Leonard Perroots, one of the attendants of the exercise, realized that the exercise was more flashy than a drill and demanded that it be terminated. Thereupon, the Soviets did not need to use bombs…
2. All the spies of the Cold War were performing highly dangerous missions.
No! Many spies at that time were doing extremely “ordinary” things! However, sometimes, these things could be “weird” instead of ordinary, but they were definitely not dangerous!
The operation, called Operation Tamarisk, aimed to seize Soviet documents in East Berlin. What made this operation possible was the “toilet paper” shortage of Soviet personnel. Toilet paper could not be supplied to the Soviet headquarters in East Berlin. When this situation continued for a long time, Soviet officials first used ordinary paper in the toilets. But the problem could not be solved, the toilet paper did not come! Employees had to use many important documents as toilet paper, from official documents to confidential correspondence. The Western world, aware of this situation, commissioned many spies to collect these “important papers”…
3. The US launch into space was a huge success
One of the widely known misconceptions about the Cold War Era is that the USA has taken an important position in the space race by getting ahead. At least at that time, US citizens had a great reaction to the space race! The enormous economic burden of the space race was never acknowledged by most people in the United States!
4. Every moment of the Cold War was dangerous
From today’s perspective, it must be admitted that the Cold War was quite dangerous. After all, the threat of nuclear war was pretty commonplace back then! However, it is not correct to claim that there is a constant “moment of danger” from the beginning of the Cold War until the day it ends. Especially in the 1970s, the atmosphere had softened considerably, thanks to the relations between US President Richard Nixon and its leader Leonid Brezhnev. Especially with Nixon’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1972, relatively “good” and “safe” relations were established between the two poles.
5. The Soviet Union was completely isolated from the West
To a large extent it was, but not completely! The Soviets advocated a different “way of life” than the West. For this reason, the state wanted to prevent the invasion of the Soviets, especially its cultural products. However, the USA was one of the most important exporters of “culture” in the world. For this reason, many American products, from movies to foodstuffs, appeared on the Soviet market.
6. The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union
Because the Cold War is not a “real war”, there is no official document of beginning and end! However, 1991, the year when one of the parties disappeared, is accepted as the end date of the Cold War, which is quite natural! However, after the mid-1980s there was no more war! The Soviet Union was immersed in its domestic politics and there were frequent regime discussions. On the other hand, Soviet and US leaders were meeting more often than before, and symbols of war were disappearing one by one. The world had emerged from the Cold War period, which would last for many years, long before the collapse of the Soviet Union.