18 Lesser Known Facts About the Cold War for the History Buffs

Do you know how the cold war was started? Who was involved in it, and why this cold war happened? Scroll here and know some cold war facts that your teacher might haven’t told you.

4 years ago
18 Lesser Known Facts About the Cold War for the History Buffs

What do you know about the cold war? It was the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States that lasted for decades. It happened after World War II. The Cold War was waged on economic, political, and propaganda fronts, and had limited recourse to weapons.

Although the parties were at peace, this period was identified by proxy wars, aggressive arms race, and ideological bids for world dominance. This term has been in existence since the 1930s when it was used to explain the bad relationship between European countries. It was after the period when the US threw an atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the English writer ‘George Orwell’ in his article wrote:

“A state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbors.”

While most of the historians say that the Cold War began immediately after WWII, others argue that it began with the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. If you are a history lover, then you would be surprised to know these facts about the cold war.

Here are Some Facts About the Cold War You Probably Don’t Know

1. It Happened from 1945 to 1991

Source = Thenation

The Cold War took place after WWII ended in 1945. Even though the Soviet Union was an important member of the allied powers, there was no trust between the allies and the Soviet Union.

The allies were concerned with the harsh relationship of Joseph Stalin and also about the spread of communism. The war ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

2. The Soviet Union Shot Down the American Plane and Captured their Pilot

Source = Theaviationgeekclub

It was on 1 May 1960 when the US pilot Francis Gary Powers, disappeared on a flight over Russia. It was reported that the US had been flying spy planes over the Soviet Union to see if it was launching the missiles at America. The aircraft flown by Francis Gary Powers was hit by an S-75 Dvina and crashed near Sverdlovsk.

The incident happened during the premiership of Nikita Khrushchev, two weeks before the opening of the east-west summit in Paris.  This caused embarrassment to the United States and marked deterioration in its relationship with the Soviet Union.

3. The Cold War That Was Fought Between the Superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States is Called a Proxy War

Source = Britannica

These wars were fought between different countries but with each side getting the support of different superpowers. Wars like the Korean war, the Yom Kippur War, and the Vietnam war are examples of proxy wars. If you find reading history from books boring, then watch these famous war movies that showed Vietnam wars and other popular wars in an interesting way.

4. Hedy Lamarr’s Invention to Stop Nazi’s from Jamming Navy Torpedoes was Rejected and Later Used in the Cold War

Source = Physicsworld

It was at the beginning of the 1930s when Hedy Lamarr invented a technology to stop the Nazi’s from jamming Navy Torpedoes. At the beginning of WWII, she and composer George Antheil invented a radio guidance system for Allied Torpedoes. They intended to use frequency-hopping spectrum technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers.

The US Navy didn’t use this technology until the 1960s, and later it was used in the cold war. Modern technology, like Bluetooth and Wi-fi, is also based on frequency-hopping technology.

5. The USSR and the US Planned to Go into Space Together During Cold War

Source = Bbci

The USSR accepted this proposal, but at that time, President John F Kennedy was assassinated, and the Soviets didn’t trust Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the plan failed.

In September 1963, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Kennedy proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to reach the moon.

Initially, Nikita Khrushchev rejected his proposal. However, on October 2, 1997, his son claimed that he was ready to accept Kennedy’s proposal at the time of his assassination.

After a few weeks, he concluded that both the United States and the Soviet Union might realize technological gains from this joint venture and decided to accept his proposal. But they dropped the idea since they don’t have the same trust in the Vice President.

The MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory) that ran from December 1963 used secret US astronauts to spy on the Soviet Union. This secret space program helped them during the cold war.

6. Americans Used Bears to Test Their Ejector Seats in Supersonic Jets

This is one of the most amazing facts about the cold war. During the cold war, the Americans used bears to test the pilot ejection system of the Convair B-58 Hustler, so that the impact on their body could be determined at the time of postmortem.

A white paper by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, which conducted perform the test, said:

“None of the bears received any internal injuries, and no spinal fractures occurred on any test. One American Black bear was discovered on autopsy to have a laceration of the liver, which was attributed partially to an overdose of anesthesia.”

The Hustler flew twice the speed of sound and was created during the cold war. Luckily, this terrifying method was not used for a long time.

7. America Sent Romanians 20,000 Bibles Which They Used as a Toilet Paper Because of Paper Shortage

Source = Wp

During the cold war, the Americans sent Romanians around 20,000 Bibles. They turned the Bibles into toilet paper.

This sounds incredible! The toilet paper was seen with remnants of text visible on its surface.

8. The Soviets Would Feed Their Soldiers Explosives to Keep Them Warm

Source = History

During the war, the Soviets soldier’s diet was on explosives. They would feed their soldiers explosives as their dietary supplement to keep them healthy and warm.

Did you know about this cold war fact?

9. Two Families Escaped During the Cold War by Designing a Hot Air Balloon

Source = Blogspot

It was during the cold war, two families designed a hot air balloon and escaped under the nose of the German Stasi secret police. They flew over 20 miles at night.

The families planned for this hot air escape from one and a half years but failed. They used three different balloons and strategies until the last one was successful.

When the first one failed, it hinted the government about the planning, but luckily, they couldn’t identify the suspects. They initially calculated the weight of the passengers, craft, and then made a balloon that could be capable of holding them.

10. Turkey Participated in the Cold War Despite Not Having Any Political Conflict

Source = Brightspotcdn

Despite not having any political relationship from the countries, Turkey participated in the Korean War. It helped the US by sending its soldiers. Turkey desperately wanted to be a member of NATO because its previous requests were denied.

11. The Vietnam War was the Deadliest War of the Cold War Era

Source = Immediate

The Vietnam War that ran from 1959 to 1975 was considered the deadliest war of the Cold War era. In this war, nearly 3.5 million people died. It was fought between South and North Vietnam.

The second deadliest war was the Korean War that ran from 1950 to 1953. Around 3 million people were killed in this war that was fought between South and North Korea. The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea and clashed on the border.

12. AN/FSQ - 7 was the Largest Computer System Ever Built During the Cold War

Source = Smecc

The AN/FSQ - 7 Combat Direction Central or referred to as Q7 was the computerized control system for Cold War air defense. It weighed 250 tons and required over 60,000 vacuum tubes and was the largest computer system to be built. It was designed to perform about 75,000 instructions per second for networking regional radars.

13. Winston Churchill Used the Term ‘Iron Curtain’ to Describe the Cold War Boundaries

Source = Netdna-ssl

It was on 5 March 1946 when Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a speech declared that Russia had built an Iron Curtain separating western Europe and Eastern Europe.

By using this phrase, he meant that the Soviet Union separated the European countries from the west, and no one knew what was going behind the curtain. His phrase became the standard term to describe Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc nations during the cold war era.

On the east side of the curtain, some countries were connected or influenced by the Soviet Union. On the west side, some countries were NATO members.

14. The Berlin Wall Represents the Perfect Symbol of Cold War

Source = Slate

The Berlin Wall was the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain between democracy and communism. The East Government claimed the wall to keep away the fascists from their area, but in reality, it was there to stop mass defections from West and East Berlin.

Out of the estimated 10,000 people who wanted to escape the Berlin Wall, only 5000 made it, and around 140 people died in the attempt. Here are other walls that are famous all around the world and have a great significance in history.

15. The Soviet Union Restricted Foreigners to Enter into the City

Source = Passportsymphony

During the war, the Soviet Union closed its several cities and restricted foreigners from entering the city.

Currently, there are 44 closed cities in Russia, with a population of over 1.5 million. 75% of it is said to be administered by the Russian Ministry of Defense, other closed cities are believed to exist, but their locations are not revealed by the Russian government.

While some closed Russian cities are only open for foreign exchange, others allow foreigners after permission.

16. CIA Launched Operation Kitty

Source = Historydaily

Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project initiated by the Central Intelligence Directorate of Science & Technology. In the project, the cats were surgically implanted with a device to spy on Soviet embassies.

Unfortunately, their mission failed, when the cat ran over and around $16million operation was dropped. The project was officially canceled in 1967. CIA researchers believed that they could train cats to walk short distances, but the security and environmental factors while using this technique would not be practical.

17. Berlin Wall was Torn Down in 1990 by the Germans

Source = Irishtimes

The Berlin Wall, which separated Germany between east and west, was torn down by the Germans in 1990. This fall of the Berlin Wall reunified Germany and symbolized the end of the Cold War. However, it was believed that one out of four west Germans wished the wall not to be broken.

18. Women Working During the Cold War Were Considered a Threat to the Security

Source = Emaze

During WWII, women worked outside the home. But during the cold war, women who worked outside were considered a threat to national security. Women were motivated and encouraged to stay home and raise their kids. They were also told to save/defend the nation if the Soviet Union attacked.

Final Words

History is filled with surprises. Some history book reveals the secrets of Nazis like the inhumane experiments that Nazis practiced on humans. The end of the cold war is associated with the fall of the Soviet Empire. Other scholars relate it with the fall of communism and the disintegration of communism in 1991.

The two countries, the US and the Soviet Union, never declared war on each other; they fought indirectly through proxy wars and arms space. However, during the cold war, there came a time when the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union could turn into a nuclear war. This confrontation was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Do you know other facts related to the cold war? What are they? Share with us below.


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