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COURSERA: The Modern World, Part Two: Global History since 1910, W5.04 The Shadow of World War III

W5.04 The Shadow of World War III

Welcome back. When we finished the presentation last time, the year was 1951. Political leaders had walked right up to the edge of a cliff, looking over the brink into World War III. and decided not to jump off. But societies all over the world, by the early 1950s, were realizing that World War III had almost come and could come at any time. They started living and imagining the world of preparing for World War III. Trying to survive World War III. What I want to emphasize now, then, is what the general sense that World War III was coming did to political culture. You have a sense of overwhelming national mobilization, and a profound insecurity, that general war could come at any time, and that it could touch any community in the United States in the age of the atom bomb. This time Time Magazine cover in February 1951 shows the head of the new Office of Defense Mobilization, mobilizer Charles Wilson, Americans don't know their own strength. Look at this tree of liberty girded by the sword and shield. See all the industries, factories, down here, and the tree is sprouting all kinds of weapons. That captures a little bit of the image of how Americans were seeing themselves in early 1951. Meanwhile, in 1950 and 1951, the Americans decide they're going to have to keep Korea from happening again in Germany. Their forces are going to have to move to Germany in strength. A commitment of ground forces to defend the German frontier dates from this period; it will last for more than 40 years. And that defense is going to have to be a forward defense, setting up an American tripwire, where any move against that frontier is going to engage the Americans in war from the first hours and with it the possible threat of the use of nuclear weapons. What’s happened then, in 1950-51, there's a real change in the character of the Cold War. Even at the beginning of 1950, for almost all Americans and indeed citizens of many countries, the Cold War was a foreign policy thing. It was kind of an abstraction. It involved far away countries and geopolitical chess games. Now there was a danger of World War III and that war could come to any American or Russian or European community, perhaps with very little notice. The reserves have been called up. Thousands of Americans are fighting and dying in a war against the most populous country on Earth. In other words, as the historian Lisle Rose has put it, the Cold War comes to Main Street. I'd like you to look now at a film clip. This was an educational film made by American Civil Defense Agencies shown to American school children all over the country, beginning in 1951, and then continuing for years after that. It was telling them how to get ready to survive, the sudden onset of World War Three. Take a look at this for a few minutes, and then I'll talk to you about it some more. [MUSIC] » Dum dum, deedle dum dum, deedle dum dum, deedle dum dum, there was a turtle by the name of Bert, and Burt the turtle was very alert, when danger threatened him he never got hurt, he knew just what to do. [NOISE] He'd duck, and cover, duck and cover. He did what we all must learn to do, you, and you, and you, and you. Duck and cover. » Be sure and remember what Bert the Turtle just did friends because every one of us must remember to do the same thing. That's what this film is all about. Duck and cover. This is an official civil defense film produced in cooperation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration. And in consultation with the Safety Commission of the National Education Association. Produced by Archer Productions incorporated. Hey Bert. Come on out and meet all these nice people. Please. Alright, we really can't blame you. You see Bert is a very, very careful fellow. When there's danger this is the way he keeps from being hurt, sometimes it even saves his life. That's why these children are practicing to duck and cover just as you do in your school. We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous. Since it may be used against us, we must get ready for it. Just as we are ready for many other dangers that are around us all the time. Fire is a danger, it can burn whole buildings if someone is careless. But we are ready for fires, we have a fine fire department to put out the fire. And you have fire drills in your school, so you'll know what to do. Automobiles can be dangerous, too, they sometimes cause bad accidents. But, we're ready, we have safety rules that car drivers and people who are walking must obey. Now, we must be ready for a new danger, the atomic bomb. First, you have to know what happens when an atomic bomb explodes. You will know when it comes. We hope it never comes, but we must get ready. It looks something like this. There is a bright flash, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything you've ever seen. If you are not ready and did not know what to do, it could hurt you in different ways. It could knock you down hard, or throw you against a tree or a wall. It is such a big explosion, it can smash in buildings and knock sign boards over, and break windows all over town. But, if you duck and cover, like Bert, you will be much safer. You know how bad sunburn can feel. The atomic bomb flash could burn you worse than a terrible sunburn, especially where you're not covered. Now you and I don't have shells to crawl into like Bert the Turtle, so we have to cover up in our own way. First, you duck. And then, you cover. And very tightly you cover the back of your neck, your face. Duck and cover underneath a table or desk, or anything else close by. In Betty's school they are talking about the atomic bomb, too. Betty is asking her teacher how can we tell when the atomic bomb may explode? And a teacher is explaining that there are two kinds of attack, with warning and without any warning. We think that most of the time, we will be warned before the bomb explodes, so there will be time for us to get into our homes, schools, or some other safe place. Our civil defense workers, and our men in uniform, will do everything they can to warn us before enemy planes can bring a bomb near us. You may be in your schoolyard playing when the signal comes. That signal means to stop whatever you're doing and get to the nearest safe place fast. Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time, no matter where you may be. You might be out playing at home when the warning comes. Then be sure to get in to the house fast, where your parents have fixed a safe place for you to go. If you are not close to home when you hear the warning, go to the nearest safe cover. Know where you are to go, or ask an older person to help you. You know the places marked with the ‘S’ sign? They are safe places to go when you hear the alarm. If there is a warning, you will hear it before the bomb explodes. [SOUND] But sometimes, and this is very, very important, sometimes the bomb might explode without any warning. Then the first thing we would know about it would be the flash, and that means duck and cover fast wherever you are. There's no time to look around or wait. Be like Bert when there is a flash, duck and cover and do it fast. Here are some older boys showing what to do if the flash comes when you are not in the classroom. This is what to do if you should be in a corridor. You duck and cover tight against the wall this way. Remember to keep your face and the back of your neck covered tightly. Try to fall away from windows or doors with glass in them, then if the glass breaks and flies through the air it won't cut you. You might be eating your lunch when the flash comes, duck and cover under the table. Then if the explosion makes anything in the room fall down it can't fall on you. Getting ready means we will all have to be able to take care of ourselves. The bomb might explode when there are no grownups near. Paul and Patty know this, and they're always ready to take care of themselves. Here they are on their way to school on a beautiful spring day, but no matter where they go or what they do, they always try to remember what to do if the atom bomb explodes right then. It's a bomb! Duck and cover! Paul and Patty know what to do. Paul covered the back of his head so that he wouldn't be burned. And Patty covered herself with a coat she was carrying. They knew how to duck and cover. They acted right away when the flash came. If they had been at this doorway when the bomb flashed, Paul and Patty would have ducked and covered this way, like this girl. Heavy doorways are a good place to duck and cover. She will be safer, too. Here’s Tony going to his cub scout meeting. Tony knows the bomb can explode any time of the year day or night. He is ready for it. Duck and cover. Attaboy Tony, that flash means act fast. Tony knows that it helps to get to any kind of cover. This wall was close by so that's where he ducked and covered. Tony knew what to do. Notice how he keeps from moving or from getting up and running. He stays down until he is sure the danger is over. The man helping Tony is a Civil Defense worker. His job is to help protect us when there is danger of the atomic bomb. We must obey the civil defense worker. We must know how to duck and cover in a school bus. Or any other bus or street car. Duck and cover! Don't wait. Duck away from the windows fast. The glass may break and fly through the air and cut you. Sundays, holidays, vacation time, we must be ready everyday, all the time, to do the right thing if the atomic bomb explodes. Duck and cover. This family knows what to do, just as your own family should. They know that even a thin cloth helps protect them, even a newspaper can save you from a bad burn. But the most important thing of all is to duck and cover yourself, especially where your clothes do not cover you. No matter where we live, in the city or the country, we must be ready all the time for the atomic bomb. Duck and cover! That's the first thing to do. Duck and cover. The next important thing to do after that, is to stay covered until the danger is over. Yes, we must all get ready now. So we know how to save ourselves if the atomic bomb ever explodes near us. If you do not know just what to do, ask your teacher when this film is over. Discuss what you could do in different places, if a bomb explodes. Older people will help us as they always do. But there might not be any grown ups around, when the bomb explodes. Then, you're on your own. » Remember what to do, friends. Now tell me right out loud. What are you supposed to do when you see the flash? Duck and cover! [MUSIC]. » Duck and cover. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. » A few reflections on this film. First, think about why people made this film. They made this film and they showed it in classrooms all over the United States because they were trying to save the lives of some of their children. They're imagining that there could be a nuclear war that could start at any moment. That in that nuclear war, for sure, millions of people may die. But, if you're presented with a calculation that says: If they take no precautions, we could lose 5 or 10 million people, but if I show this film and millions of people take elementary precautions, let's suppose they judge, I might reduce my death or casualty rates by 20% at the margin with these precautions. If I make this film and scare school children with it all over the country, if I saved that 20%, maybe I've saved two million lives. You do that cost benefit analysis. And what decision do you make? But that's the kind of reasoning that's going through people's heads in 1951 when they're deciding to make a movie like that. Second, notice the apparatus of defense that has to be in every American community: the shelters, the civil defense employees, all of that. That's everywhere in Arkansas, and Montana, and Texas, and Florida -- you get a sense of national mobilization. Think too about how that movie is telling you war may come at any time and you may be anywhere when it comes and no one will be safe, no matter where you live or no matter what they're doing. This is a very different kind of insecurity than people had experienced, certainly people living in the United States of America, which used to believe that it was sheltered by its oceans. If you understand the world underneath a movie like that, you can understand so much about the world of the 1950s, which we'll explore some more in my next presentation. See you then.



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W5.04 The Shadow of World War III

Welcome back. When we finished the presentation last time, the year was 1951. Political leaders had walked right up to the edge of a cliff, looking over the brink into World War III. and decided not to jump off. But societies all over the world, by the early 1950s, were realizing that World War III had almost come and could come at any time. They started living and imagining the world of preparing for World War III. Trying to survive World War III. What I want to emphasize now, then, is what the general sense that World War III was coming did to political culture. You have a sense of overwhelming national mobilization, and a profound insecurity, that general war could come at any time, and that it could touch any community in the United States in the age of the atom bomb. This time Time Magazine cover in February 1951 shows the head of the new Office of Defense Mobilization, mobilizer Charles Wilson, Americans don't know their own strength. Look at this tree of liberty girded by the sword and shield. See all the industries, factories, down here, and the tree is sprouting all kinds of weapons. That captures a little bit of the image of how Americans were seeing themselves in early 1951. Meanwhile, in 1950 and 1951, the Americans decide they're going to have to keep Korea from happening again in Germany. Their forces are going to have to move to Germany in strength. A commitment of ground forces to defend the German frontier dates from this period; it will last for more than 40 years. And that defense is going to have to be a forward defense, setting up an American tripwire, where any move against that frontier is going to engage the Americans in war from the first hours and with it the possible threat of the use of nuclear weapons. What’s happened then, in 1950-51, there's a real change in the character of the Cold War. Even at the beginning of 1950, for almost all Americans and indeed citizens of many countries, the Cold War was a foreign policy thing. It was kind of an abstraction. It involved far away countries and geopolitical chess games. Now there was a danger of World War III and that war could come to any American or Russian or European community, perhaps with very little notice. The reserves have been called up. Thousands of Americans are fighting and dying in a war against the most populous country on Earth. In other words, as the historian Lisle Rose has put it, the Cold War comes to Main Street. I'd like you to look now at a film clip. This was an educational film made by American Civil Defense Agencies shown to American school children all over the country, beginning in 1951, and then continuing for years after that. It was telling them how to get ready to survive, the sudden onset of World War Three. Take a look at this for a few minutes, and then I'll talk to you about it some more. [MUSIC] » Dum dum, deedle dum dum, deedle dum dum, deedle dum dum, there was a turtle by the name of Bert, and Burt the turtle was very alert, when danger threatened him he never got hurt, he knew just what to do. [NOISE] He'd duck, and cover, duck and cover. He did what we all must learn to do, you, and you, and you, and you. Duck and cover. » Be sure and remember what Bert the Turtle just did friends because every one of us must remember to do the same thing. That's what this film is all about. Duck and cover. This is an official civil defense film produced in cooperation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration. And in consultation with the Safety Commission of the National Education Association. Produced by Archer Productions incorporated. Hey Bert. Come on out and meet all these nice people. Please. Alright, we really can't blame you. You see Bert is a very, very careful fellow. When there's danger this is the way he keeps from being hurt, sometimes it even saves his life. That's why these children are practicing to duck and cover just as you do in your school. We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous. Since it may be used against us, we must get ready for it. Just as we are ready for many other dangers that are around us all the time. Fire is a danger, it can burn whole buildings if someone is careless. But we are ready for fires, we have a fine fire department to put out the fire. And you have fire drills in your school, so you'll know what to do. Automobiles can be dangerous, too, they sometimes cause bad accidents. But, we're ready, we have safety rules that car drivers and people who are walking must obey. Now, we must be ready for a new danger, the atomic bomb. First, you have to know what happens when an atomic bomb explodes. You will know when it comes. We hope it never comes, but we must get ready. It looks something like this. There is a bright flash, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything you've ever seen. If you are not ready and did not know what to do, it could hurt you in different ways. It could knock you down hard, or throw you against a tree or a wall. It is such a big explosion, it can smash in buildings and knock sign boards over, and break windows all over town. But, if you duck and cover, like Bert, you will be much safer. You know how bad sunburn can feel. The atomic bomb flash could burn you worse than a terrible sunburn, especially where you're not covered. Now you and I don't have shells to crawl into like Bert the Turtle, so we have to cover up in our own way. First, you duck. And then, you cover. And very tightly you cover the back of your neck, your face. Duck and cover underneath a table or desk, or anything else close by. In Betty's school they are talking about the atomic bomb, too. Betty is asking her teacher how can we tell when the atomic bomb may explode? And a teacher is explaining that there are two kinds of attack, with warning and without any warning. We think that most of the time, we will be warned before the bomb explodes, so there will be time for us to get into our homes, schools, or some other safe place. Our civil defense workers, and our men in uniform, will do everything they can to warn us before enemy planes can bring a bomb near us. You may be in your schoolyard playing when the signal comes. That signal means to stop whatever you're doing and get to the nearest safe place fast. Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time, no matter where you may be. You might be out playing at home when the warning comes. Then be sure to get in to the house fast, where your parents have fixed a safe place for you to go. If you are not close to home when you hear the warning, go to the nearest safe cover. Know where you are to go, or ask an older person to help you. You know the places marked with the ‘S’ sign? They are safe places to go when you hear the alarm. If there is a warning, you will hear it before the bomb explodes. [SOUND] But sometimes, and this is very, very important, sometimes the bomb might explode without any warning. Then the first thing we would know about it would be the flash, and that means duck and cover fast wherever you are. There's no time to look around or wait. Be like Bert when there is a flash, duck and cover and do it fast. Here are some older boys showing what to do if the flash comes when you are not in the classroom. This is what to do if you should be in a corridor. You duck and cover tight against the wall this way. Remember to keep your face and the back of your neck covered tightly. Try to fall away from windows or doors with glass in them, then if the glass breaks and flies through the air it won't cut you. You might be eating your lunch when the flash comes, duck and cover under the table. Then if the explosion makes anything in the room fall down it can't fall on you. Getting ready means we will all have to be able to take care of ourselves. The bomb might explode when there are no grownups near. Paul and Patty know this, and they're always ready to take care of themselves. Here they are on their way to school on a beautiful spring day, but no matter where they go or what they do, they always try to remember what to do if the atom bomb explodes right then. It's a bomb! Duck and cover! Paul and Patty know what to do. Paul covered the back of his head so that he wouldn't be burned. And Patty covered herself with a coat she was carrying. They knew how to duck and cover. They acted right away when the flash came. If they had been at this doorway when the bomb flashed, Paul and Patty would have ducked and covered this way, like this girl. Heavy doorways are a good place to duck and cover. She will be safer, too. Here’s Tony going to his cub scout meeting. Tony knows the bomb can explode any time of the year day or night. He is ready for it. Duck and cover. Attaboy Tony, that flash means act fast. Tony knows that it helps to get to any kind of cover. This wall was close by so that's where he ducked and covered. Tony knew what to do. Notice how he keeps from moving or from getting up and running. He stays down until he is sure the danger is over. The man helping Tony is a Civil Defense worker. His job is to help protect us when there is danger of the atomic bomb. We must obey the civil defense worker. We must know how to duck and cover in a school bus. Or any other bus or street car. Duck and cover! Don't wait. Duck away from the windows fast. The glass may break and fly through the air and cut you. Sundays, holidays, vacation time, we must be ready everyday, all the time, to do the right thing if the atomic bomb explodes. Duck and cover. This family knows what to do, just as your own family should. They know that even a thin cloth helps protect them, even a newspaper can save you from a bad burn. But the most important thing of all is to duck and cover yourself, especially where your clothes do not cover you. No matter where we live, in the city or the country, we must be ready all the time for the atomic bomb. Duck and cover! That's the first thing to do. Duck and cover. The next important thing to do after that, is to stay covered until the danger is over. Yes, we must all get ready now. So we know how to save ourselves if the atomic bomb ever explodes near us. If you do not know just what to do, ask your teacher when this film is over. Discuss what you could do in different places, if a bomb explodes. Older people will help us as they always do. But there might not be any grown ups around, when the bomb explodes. Then, you're on your own. » Remember what to do, friends. Now tell me right out loud. What are you supposed to do when you see the flash? Duck and cover! [MUSIC]. » Duck and cover. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. » A few reflections on this film. First, think about why people made this film. They made this film and they showed it in classrooms all over the United States because they were trying to save the lives of some of their children. They're imagining that there could be a nuclear war that could start at any moment. That in that nuclear war, for sure, millions of people may die. But, if you're presented with a calculation that says: If they take no precautions, we could lose 5 or 10 million people, but if I show this film and millions of people take elementary precautions, let's suppose they judge, I might reduce my death or casualty rates by 20% at the margin with these precautions. If I make this film and scare school children with it all over the country, if I saved that 20%, maybe I've saved two million lives. You do that cost benefit analysis. And what decision do you make? But that's the kind of reasoning that's going through people's heads in 1951 when they're deciding to make a movie like that. Second, notice the apparatus of defense that has to be in every American community: the shelters, the civil defense employees, all of that. That's everywhere in Arkansas, and Montana, and Texas, and Florida -- you get a sense of national mobilization. Think too about how that movie is telling you war may come at any time and you may be anywhere when it comes and no one will be safe, no matter where you live or no matter what they're doing. This is a very different kind of insecurity than people had experienced, certainly people living in the United States of America, which used to believe that it was sheltered by its oceans. If you understand the world underneath a movie like that, you can understand so much about the world of the 1950s, which we'll explore some more in my next presentation. See you then.

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