As the row between London and Moscow continues, BBC News website readers recall the original Cold War.
Read our feature here:
My grandfather lived, in Korea, in a village not too far from the DMZ. Before the Korean War there wasn't a lot of food in the village, so he took cattle, I think it was, down to Seoul in order to sell and left his family in the village, thinking he could come back. Later, he would realize that he was dead wrong, and because of the Korean war, he never saw his first wife or their children again.
Hannah Lee, New York City, USA
I remember being 7 years old at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and watching Pres. Kennedy on TV. We lived then in East Orange, New Jersey, less than 20 km west of the Empire State Building. Our apartment building stocked drums of crackers and water in the basement. Civil defense drills in school were frequent. To think that we would have survived a nuclear war physically, let alone as a functioning society, would be laughable if the thought were not so horrifying.
Michael Yudis, Lexington, NJ
I grew up in the fifties and sixties thinking of Communism and the Soviet menace as being very real threats to my life and the democratic form of government I had been taught to appreciate. My elementary school days were filled with air raid drills and sirens going off for 60 seconds at noon once a week to test the system. We euphemistically called it ¿the noon whistle.¿ Duck and cover drills were practiced faithfully. Fall out shelters were everywhere and there was a ¿commie¿ behind everything that didn¿t go our way. Local construction firms advertised family air raid shelters for your back yard. The missile gap was a reality for us, and as far as everyone was concerned Sputnik had proved that the Soviets were ahead in missiles and technology. I lived near Seattle, Washington ¿ a prime bomber or missile target because of the military installations and the large defense industry, Boeing Aircraft Company. I remember how we discussed the freedom fighter Fidel Castro one month, and the next he turned out to be a communist dictator. On Monday, October 22nd 1962, I was in high school when President Kennedy announced that the Soviets had installed missiles in Cuba. We stayed glued to our 11 inch black and white television at home, and our teachers played the radio news for updates during class. Some of my friends announced their intention to quit high school and volunteer for the Marines, making the short trip across Lake Washington to Seattle to sign up. On Wednesday, just before lunch, I sat in a large study hall with about 100 other high school students when the low growl of the sirens starting up turned into an ominous wail from Seattle, just across the lake from where we sat. 100 high school students sat staring at each other in disbelief, then the silence was broken by some of the girls beginning to cry and young voices muttering oaths and appeals to God in realization that the unspeakable was about to happen. Then the study hall teacher reminded us of the noon whistle.
Gregory R, San Antonio, TX USA
I was born in the USSR, to a Bangladeshi father and a Belarusian mother. Growing up in Bangladesh as a kid with Soviet citizenship, I was always bombarded with joking questions about whether I would join the KGB or the CIA when I grew up. Once, when I was around seven, I remember watching the James Bond film "Living Daylights" with my Bangladeshi relatives. In it, Bond was being chased by Eastern European police cars that were destroyed in the chase through the incompetence of their drivers -- at which point my relatives let out a cheer. There I was trying to enjoy a movie with my uncles, but feeling completely alienated because of their support for the "enemy".
Rashed Chowdhury, Montréal, Québec, Canada
i was 12 years old in 1980, when the red army has invaded afgahnistan. the americaans including the CIA have swiftlt taken over military basis in pakistan. our military dictator Mr zia-ul-haq has already donated all the strategic positions to the allied and weged a holy war(jihad) against the soviet. the allied propaganda was so strong that every one was believing that the USSR will attacked all the muslims countries one by one and the communists are anti-silamic. the CIA has financed different extremsit organizations in pakistan including the Al-qaeda of bin laden and a global jihad has been organized in a very professional way against the soviet, untill the fall of soviet union in 1990.
i still wonder that if our beloved dictator couldnt sold our country to the allied cold war propaganda, without asking our public, we would not have been facing the everlasting crisis of terrorism in pakistan.
geographically ,pakistan is a very important country it has sea,river,desert and fertile land. it is the 6th largest population and a 7th nuclear power.we could have easily taken over malysia and china in economic terms but its not possible any more. thanks to cold war and thanks to our corrupted army generals that today we live in a hostile country of jihadis and militants, who are fighting against their own people......we will never recover form this horrible situation.
zahid baloch, pakistan
During my college years back in Russia (1979-1984) all male students in our college were required to attend military training. What I remember the most is that we had to memorize different facts about our "most probable enemy" as they said, for example: -how many tanks, guns, mortars and soldiers there are in American/British/West German division/regiment/company/platoon;
-what kind of rifles, pistols and grenades they have; -we had to briefly explain the differences how to use different kinds of American, British and German rifles, pistols and grenades; -we had to know what types of ammo NATO produced at that time so that we could use it for some of the Russian weapons; -we had to recognize different silhouettes of airplanes in order to be able to identify which is friendly;
It was pretty crazy in seventies - now I live in US and I can't believe I was doing all this.
Sergey Dusheyko, San Francisco,CA
I have very vivid memories of the end of the 1980's travelling to Romania.
Having grown up in the UK in the 1970's and 1980's I had always been aware of the "other side of the iron curtain" existing as a murky and dark side of Europe - virtually unknown to the average UK schoolboy.I remember flying to Vienna in February 1989 and from there on to Bucharest with Austrian Airlines. At that time, Austrian was the only Western European airline (neutrality helped I think) to serve Bucharest. The atmosphere on landing in Bucharest was sinister with armed border guards, pot-holed runways, and a dark dingy terminal building. On leaving Bucharest I always used to breathe a sigh of relief just to board the Austrian plane, (safe,reliable and clean). People clapped when the pilot announced we had left Romanian airspace.
Richard Lawrence, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I printed this - all these stories. My dad flew B-47's - ready to go bomb Russia at a moment's notice. I worried about it from the time I was a small child. As an adult, I worked with a man who grew up in Moscow. We talked about the irony of working closely together in America, managing our facility in South China, given that 30years before it could have never happened. Funny world.
Kathryn, Germantown, Maryland
For me, the Cold War was partly quite hot since I spent over 1.5 years in Afghanistan (86-88) at the time when most of the enemies were already quite well-trained by the Western and Chinese (what a combination! don't tell me that the Cold War was white & black:) instructors and had unlimited supply of weapons from Chinese-made AK's and RPG's to Italian land mines and American Stingers and cheaper British Blowpipes (?). Now I have heard that Stingers are being sometimes "returned" to the US in Afghanistan and Iraq... well, to be honest, I still have mixed feelings about this: no doubt that most US soldiers are normal good guys - and I am sorry about them. But so were we¿ That was wise of the US leaders to use the opportunity when the USSR committed the same mistake as the US in Vietnam - and that was stupid of old chap Brezhnev to make it after he had seen the American failure... I guess he thought that since the mess was happening (unlike Vietnam) at the USSR border with a risk of the cross-border Islamic wave that made a huge difference. That did not - you cannot win over determined people if they happen to have unlimited support of several countries including the other superpower.
But coming back to my childhood I cannot really remember how the cold War affected me: literally 1 or 2 films where Russian "Rambo¿s" defeated "bad US marines" (mostly, the enemies in the war films were Nazis), a few lessons with Kalashnikovs at the high school, a few talks of a possibility of a nuclear war (boys always speak about the wars before they get there)... for us it was always clear (and we were told that by the adults) that the nuclear war could start only by mistake of one side, not intentionally.
I guess, I had a very happy childhood with wonderful outdoor summers and good friends and (mostly:)) good teachers at school. I was born in an ordinary Soviet family which means that during my childhood I never was abroad. Still, we traveled a lot all over 1/6 of the earth and I remember a surprise with quite a different life-style (hardly Soviet) in Turkmenistan and with the quality of life and the variety of food and goods in the shops of Estonia - even Moscow due to some reasons was supplied by the Soviet centralized economy worse than Estonia not mentioning Russian small towns and villages... well, there was a good side of that time as well: my best friend got a very complicated medical surgery at the best hospital of the USSR - free of charge. Without that, he would have died in a few years (heart condition) - and he is thanks god and the doctors now well and at the moment doing sailing somewhere in the Barents Sea:) I wish we had had no Cold War but I do not feel my life and youth, whether it looks good or bad for you, was shadowed by it.
The first half of my working life was shaped by the cold war - first as an RAF pilot flying from a base very few miles from the "Curtain", then in the V-force, and afterwards in West Berlin for several years in the early 60s, of which Mikey from London's note reminded me. I was there when the Wall went up, when the Cuba missile crisis was on, and when JFK was killed. The threat of HOT war was real, and Berlin was an exciting place to be ... My later life, still centred round aircraft, was devoted to making the Airbus project a "real go-er". Much more satisfying, if less exciting ...
John, Toulouse area, France
My English school offered a bi-annual trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg. I went in 1988. I got a sense that many ordinary Russian folk were a bit bewildered - they were aware that things had changed considerably under Gorbachov but appeared to have no concept of where the new freedoms stopped. They found us fascinating - an impromptu rap music jam session queueing outside a musuem formed a crowd of startled onlookers. In 1990 I went to University and read an International Relations course. On the first day the tutor announced they weren't going to issue many textbooks as the events of 1989 had rendered them all hopelessly outdated. The academic world hadn't been prepared for the speed of the changes. His best suggestion was to read the papers daily.
Gary Tompsett, Adelaide, Australia
I'm 35 and so my childhood was during the cold war. We felt the permanent tension of fear, that the WWIII could start at any moment due to some mistake. Any child at those times occasionally had nightmares of that sort. Despite that, nor I neither my friends were ever thinking of UK or US as of "rivals". I studied at the so-called "english school", i.e. we had 5-6 hours a week of English lessons and spent a lot of time on reading English classics in original. The UK is always the land of Shakespeare, Dickens, Stevenson, Lawrence, Byron, Burns, Carrol, the motherland of Rock music, the place where Newton, Kelvin, Faraday and Maxwell made their discoveries. I don't think that the UK will ever have credit of being the shelter of Beresovskii or that Gordon Brown or Tony Blair will ever take their place in the list of British glory. So, friends, let's don't think too much about politicians, read more Russian and English books, listen more music, meet more real people.
Alexander, Novosibirsk, Russia
As a boy growing up in NZ,I remember clearly the neighbors calling us into the street to see the cloud, the glow, from the bomb, detonated at Johnstone atoll in the Pacific, we could see it from thousands of miles away...
stuart hearn, Brisbane Australia
I HAVE LIVED MY ENTIRE LIFE IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA,A CITY OF ABOUT ONE-HALF MILLION PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE US. JUST OUTSIDE OMAHA IS THE HEAD-QUARTERS OF THE STRATEGIC AIR C0MMAND (NOW CALLED STRATCOM)WHICH CONTROLS ALL US NUCLEAR FORCES. EVERYONE IN OMAHA KNEW THAT WE WOULD BE THE THIRD CITY HIT IN ANY NUCLEAR WAR, AFTER WASHINGTON DC AND CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN WYOMING. PEOPLE IN OMAHA ALWAYS HAVE HAD A GALLOWS SENSE OF HUMOR ABOUT LIVING SO CLOSE TO SAC, BUT I THINK ALL OMAHANS BREATHED JUST A LITTLE EASIER WHEN THE COLD WAR FINALLY CAME TO A CLOSE.
DANIEL, OMAHA , NEBRASKA USA
Great! Everyone is trying point out the differences instead of seeing similarities. That is exactly how wars get started. Everyone wants same things. Most people thought that Russia was run by the group of thugs after WWII and most westerner's don't really think that Russia did anything significant during WWII.
Look at former Baltic republics, they are re-writing history to present themselves as victims. If that is what they want to be so be it. But back to the question at hand, Russia now is worse off then it was after WWII. At least at that time there was some kind of regime and rules. Right now, there are no rules. Rich are taking advantage of poor and the strong kill the weak. Government killing its own citizens by making it impossible to support themselves by having 2-3 even 4 jobs. When old people close themselves in one room to keep warm during a cold-cold winter, with no heat, that is wrong. Telling Soviet/Russian people that fought during WWII, that they were fighting on the wrong side and in fact are oppressors is wrong. It is like chasing down every German now and blaming them for WWII.
I am not sure what Westerners expect? They claim they defeated the "EVIL EMPIRE" and brought this thing called "DEMOCRACY". Well, if that is the case why do you think Russians hold WEST responsible for the mess that Russia is today? Forcing "democratic" ideas on generation of people that didn't know any different, is similar to buying a Military Jet without ever taking a lesson or reading a manual and expecting to be a top-gun pilot. When by the same analogy most of those people never even rode a bike proficiently enough. And what is even worse, the people that are interpreting those "new" ideas and ways of life are the same people that lived in the old regime and had the power, the only difference is that they change their banners and are chanting freedom and democracy instead of supporting socialist/communist ideas and attending party meetings. Let's look at it the other way around, what would the world look like if socialism "won?" (so to speak) Would WEST be able to adapt to operate in that environment, when westerners never lived in it? I do not think so. The world's gone crazy. That is what happens when the entire system is based on money. The only goal is to get paid. Russians take it one step further, it doesn't matter what it is - the new God is money and literally FREEDOM (most of them are willing to kill for that freedom ie money and do) and the objective is to get it at any cost. With No rule book, that is all you get.
I was stationed aboard a US ballistic missile submarine during the late 70's. On occasion we would hold missile launch drills which were initiated with an announcement over the public address system stating "Man Battle Stations Missile". The crew did not know at this point as to whether or not it was a drill or a real missile launch. I recall that my shipmates would always be in a very somber and reflective mood once they reached their assigned battle stations. Although many of us believed that a launch would never occur, we were still held by thoughts of home - wondering if our families were safe, wondering if there would be anything to return home to. There was always a collective sigh of relief when the ship's captain would announce over the PA "This is the captain, this is an exercise". At that point, even though we were still at battle stations, the crew became jovial and talkative...life went on.
Jim, Richland, WA, USA
Hi guys from the "other side". In 1986-88 as a conscript soldier of the Warsaw Pact I was allocated to an antiaircraft command post watching in "real time" war games over the Aegian, and laughing my bottom out at the few taking themselves seriously enough to think that WW III was coming. As service men we knew that our life expectancy was about 3-5 minutes, so there was not much to worry about anyway. Meanwhile, the "dreaded red" officers in our regiment were dreaming mostly of seaside vacations, pay rises, new pair of jeans, and perhaps a little romance with the service ladies from the communication department. Fear, I am afraid to say, was nowhere in sight. My only annoyance, at the time, was that instead of climbing with friends and wild camping at our favorite secluded sunny beaches (now almost completely destroyed by idiocity and greed), I had to rot underground watching out for an impossible enemy and feeding an occasional mice with my 6 o'clock wafer...
vergil, tombstone, vanuatu
I must be a lucky one. I lived in a small city in north Poland. Nuclear attack or hiding under the desk wasn't debated, thought of or drilled. Being teenager I figured out that because of the 'final' nature of those weapons, nether side will provoke a war as than, sooner or later Nukes would be used and and "bye bye Charlie"! I thought that if I can figure that out, the Leaders know it even better! And I was right! Soviets knew the technical and economical superiority of the West and would never initiate war as chances of winning were slim at best. Russians, in such matters used rational thinking too. Today 'things' are somewhat different!
krystofik123, Brisbane Australia
Amazing - almost only boys' memories. Now some from a girl - I grew up in Riga and remember I quite often, at the age of 7 to 9 or something, could not fall asleep at night trying to figure out how I possibly will be able to take all my teddy bears with me when the nuclear bomb is dropped and I have to run to a shelter as fast as I can. Leaving them behind in my understanding of those days was something like what today would tantamount for me to leaving my child behind in danger. Or - my mother, being a manager at a chemists store, had some military rank and she told me she may have to join the army if the war breaks out. My other fear was she might not come home from work one day because she has had to go to war. I don't know which of the two were worst.
One morning, in 1958, I was delivering the morning Los Angeles Times newspaper, riding on a bicycle. At about 5:30-6:00 AM, there was a bright flash in the eastern dawn sky. Less than an hour later, there was a huge thud of a shock wave, almost like an earthquake. I read in the newspaper later that this was the day of one of the last above-ground atomic tests. No one else commented about it--they were all asleep, I suppose. The tests were in Nevada, about 400 miles east of us. Light travels faster than sound. I was sixteen. Five years later, I was in the US Army in the Far East. My nutshell theory of the cold war? Bullies start fights, but bullies only pick on weaklings.
Cold War to the Chinese could be very hot. In 1950s, the Americans fought against the Chinese in Korea. In 1960s and 1970s, Vietnam War also involved the Chinese at its border. As a kid, I participated several demostration parades together with millions of people in many cities of China. "Down with the U.S. imperialists!" was the solgan that we often shouted. The peak was on May 20, 1970. Chairman Mao and Lin Biao stood at the Tian An Man and issued the announcement "People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs!" The Washington Post called it "the declaration of World War III." However, very soon, President Nixon visited China and the Cold War was gone. After Nixon's visit, a lot of people in China began studying English. In 1980s, we came to the U.S. that we used to shout to "DOWN WITH". The history is very dramatic.
Edward Deng, Virginia, USA
I was a volunteer worker in Angola when the conflict in that country ended (temporarily) in 1991, as a result of the end of the Cold War. We were outside in a huge crowd watching a gigantic TV screen with the peace treaty being signed between the former US- and Soviet-backed factions (MPLA and UNITA). It was like the old folk song "I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield...down by the riverside", a very utopian feeling. ...By the end of the year the civil war in Angola had broken out again, this time without a "Cold War" angle, a very disillusioning thing just like the talk of a new "Cold War" is now.
Frank Tamborello, Los Angeles USA
My mother grew up in Los Alamos and I have memories of her telling me that during the Cuban Missile crisis that she, her mother, father and brother were hunkered down in some bunker as Los Alamos was a primary target during the Cold War. My father was in NROTC in Wisconsin and thought that he was going to have to be called up to aid in the war effort.
Jon, Jinju, Korea originally Maryland USA
I was child at this time. I remember that there was many war drill for pupils in our school that how we can habit if enemy attack with nuclear bomb. What is signal and where we must run. There were some bunkers for protect against explosion wave and nuclear pollution in town. We had to made some masks - from cotton wool and gauze. It was ridiculous and anybody knew that Russian propaganda was over the top, sovjet staff was always a little funny and stupid at this time and sometime scary. Mayby some people are waiting war, but not nuclear war.
Ivar, Tartu, Estonia
I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Having spent most of my life under a dictatorial regime - courtesy of the US - I could only dread the prospect of the Americans being left alone to bully the whole world as they pleased. It was not that I was an admirer of the Soviet Union, but the idea of the two of them balacing each other out seemed much better to me than having one of them becoming a world hegemon. And to top it all, I could only look in disgust to the fact that that was probably brought about by the policies of Ronald Regan - the guy that wanted to bring the arms race into space. That sold guns to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war and used the proceeding to bring chaos to Nicaragua. The same fellow that invaded Panama and Granada. I had no love lost for communism, but right-wing facists frighted me a whole deal more.
I remember my mother once told me when she was about 4 years old and the threat of nuclear war was in the air, her mother was sewing masks for my mother and her 3 siblings. There was nothing else she could protect them with so that was the only thing she could do. What a horrific feeling that must have been.
Helen, former USSR country
Thanks to the cold war, my country and many other african counties got their students educated in Soviet Union!...Who can deny the fact?
I was a British soldier in 1954, had just been posted to West Germany (Federal Republic). The Berlin Wall had not yet been errected. I was in transit in Duisburg. I was given a temporary job in the company office. When asked by the chief, who was a friendly English civilian (as apposed to the army's nasty sergeants), where I would like to be posted, I immediately replied -"Berlin". The chief sucked in a breath of air and said in a warning tone- "You don't want to go there. It's too dangerous. Squaddies are being murdered on a weekly basis by communist extremists. I'm sending you to the Sudan."
Bill Bradbury, Wroclaw Poland
I remember being on exercise in the Weser valley, waking up under a camoflage net and watching the sunrise over the town of Alfeld. The wonderful sight was only marred by the thought that the might of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army was just a few kilometres further east - waiting to stomp all over us!
Lawrence Kelly-Jones, AMLWCH
Whenever the hammer and sickle appeared people would become afraid. Now it sells lots of t-shirts. Here in Miami, the older cubans are still fighting the cold war. It's sad and pathetic to seem them still stuck in time while the whole world moves forward.
Fernando Martinez, USA, Miami
I was in the Army in the late 70's and early 80's. One posting was not far from the East German border and we had the opportunity to do a border patrol along the "iron curtain" We were followed by the East German border guards on their side and photographed constantly. It was a very surreal experience.
Roger Brookes, Worcester, UK
I was in the RAF in the 70´s in Germany and every Friday we used to arm every aircraft we had available just incase WW3 started over the weekend.Also we had a few armed with nukes and a number of personnell on readiness.Then on Monday downlóad everthing and back to Normal ( but always the nukes where waiting.
steve, Lindenberg, Germany
I was born and brought up in North London, which meant that I would certainly be destroyed following a nuclear attack. I still vividly remember walking home from school on a lovely summer's afternoon in the very early 80s when the sirens went off. I knew that this was the 4 minute warning and I knew I was about to die. It went through my mind that my mother would be at home on her own, my Dad was at work, and I didn't know where my sister was. I knew that I couldn't run home in time, nor was there anybody else, either friends or family, within a 4 minute running distance, so I just sat down on a nearby garden wall. I found myself watching the skies and wondering if I would see the explosion before being annihilated! There were about 4 other people within sight and all of us were just stopped dead in our tracks. After a while we realised that it must have been a test of the sirens and we continued our journeys. In the scheme of things it is a very small experience, but was frightening enough that I still remember it, and the associated emotions, very clearly 25 years on!
Sue Moore, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
I was at a Conference when the announcment was made that the Berlin Wall was coming down. There was a standing ovation except for the man next to me, a Latvian. When I asked him why he wasn't celebrating, he pointed out that now there would be a powerful reunified Germany again, which he didnt think was such a good thing for his country.
Pete Marshall, Macclesfield UK
I served in the 11th Armored Cavalry, patrolling the West German/Czech border, 1957-1958. We were to be a delaying force giving the 3rd Armored Division time to set up in the event that the Russians might try to invade western Europe through West Germany. We were on constant alert. My brother served in the Air Force as a co-pilot on a B-47, spending 30 days in Alaska every 3rd month. The planes were armed and kept running on the runways 24 hours a day. It was a tense time.
Jack Alman, Knoxville, TN, USA
I remember in America, we were told that Russian women were not pretty. Then much later we saw Sharapova on TV.
Jay Fishell, Des Moines, Iowa
I travelled by train with my mother from West Germany to Berlin in 1961 the night the wall went up. I was only 9 years old at the time but I'll never forget the anxiety on the faces of the people waiting on the platform in Berlin when we arrived.
James Broughton, London, UK
One memory occured on me while reading comments. As a ten year old boy I once showed a drawing of a house to fellow schoolboys and one of them responsed: "You've written >police< here, it's in English, you'll go to jail for that!" Police means "bookshelf" in Czech. The remark was meant partially as a joke but the sole fact the child came up with it is shocking to me now. I'm glad my children will be free to write and tell whatever they want to.
Radek, Budweis, Czech Republic
In 1985, I remember going to Lubeck in West Germany as part of a school exchange and seeing the look-out towers over in East Germany complete with guards and spotlights. I regret being very naive at 15 and just thinking that the guards were 'the enemy' and where they were was the 'other world'.
Matt Hanks, Edinburgh, Scotland
When I was about 12 we visited my mum's relatives in Prague in the mid '80s. I remember the 2 hour rainy night-time border crossing on the train into East Germany with stony-faced DDR border guards going through our stuff. And the Cold War experience was greatly enhanced by "The Final Countdown" (Asia? Toto?) blaring out of a tannoy somehwere down the platform!
nick burton, macclesfield
I remember that we had a grey 'atomic box' in a house where we moved to in the early seventies. It was connected to the telephone and sat next to the phone. It was called an x120 or something. A man came round and talked to my dad about it and after the meeting my dad was very stern faced. We used to have to test it from time to time. And it occasionally made odd noises. I never really knew what it was for. But if the phone broke down and we mentioned we had an X120, then there was an engineer round extremely smartly!
Pete Porchos, Stratford upon Avon
I remember, growing up in South Africa in the 70's, the Government's propaganda machine constantly churning out dire warnings of the deadly cost of communism. How silly is all seems now.
Louis Brandt, Grantham, UK
I remember nuclear strike exercises at school, when all the children had to go into the basement. I was fascinated with the Cold War back then, and still am today as a historian. While today's threats can be frightening enough, people in Europe tend to forget what the Cold War was really like: 30,000 nuclear warheads on hair triggers, poised to strike at any time. Given what "we now know" we were all very lucky. No "new cold war" is in the offering - the situation in 1945 is nothing like today.
Erling Nielsen, Copenhagen, Denmark
I would suffer nuclear nightmares (dreams of experiencing nuclear war) every couple of months during the early 1980's. I think it was Ronald Reagan's rhetoric that worried me most, although in hindsight it's apparent that his tough stance on Communism was a factor in bringing down the wall. I still vividly remember feeling a small earthquake once and for just a split second thinking that World War III had started before I came to my senses. This is the kind of "everybody was afraid without being afraid" feeling that you describe so well. It's going to be very difficult, as my son gets older, to explain to him what we all felt during this period, although it does in many ways seem more cut and dried than the world we live in now.
Gerry, Ottawa, Canada
I remember hauling through Angola on operations, hiding from MiGs by day and moving by night, and being party to either the destruction and/or capture of Russian supplied kit (tanks, radar etc.). Africa seemed a bit more chilly in the late 80's :-)
John, Gauteng, RSA
I remember growing up in England during this time and we lived off of a RAF base there. They would scramble the bombers and we would practice our little drills of getting under a table or desk..ATomic bombs can't get you if you are under a desk....
Thex, Indianapolis, IN
I was born and lived up to 33 years in the USSR. I has never experienced the fear of nuclear war. USSR was so strong that no one dared to attack him. But at a time when Russia is too weak, nuclear war is possible and will not started by Russia. I am afraid of nuclear war at a time when the West won.
Alexandre, Turku, Finland
I can remember air raid drills as a schoolboy in the 1950's in which we would practice getting under desks. We lived in fear that Bear and Bison Soviet Bombers with atomic weapons would fly over the North Pole and drop nuclear weapons on American Cities. I can remember trained civilian observers watching the skys for signs of the feared Soviet Bombers and the strategic necessity of constructing radar facilities in Canada to watch for Soviet Bombers. I can remember as a boy the first appearance of American B-52 'H-Bombers' as they were called then, and the ambition of every American boy was to join the American Air Force so that he could pilot the first 'H-Bomber' over Moscow.
Stephen Kerr, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
I was 4 years old during the Cuban missile crisis in October, 1962, living with my parents in San Antonio, Texas. I vividly remember my parents stocking up on canned food and distilled water. They heard that San Antonio might be in range of Soviet missiles, and were so concerned about a possible nuclear attack that they took themselves and me to stay with my grandmother on a farm in the Texas panhandle about 500 miles to the northwest. On the drive up, I clearly remember missiles sticking up out of the Texas pastures, with steam venting from some of them. On the way back after the crisis was diffused, there were only cattle and oil wells to be seen. I have had an abiding interest in international affairs and politics ever since... I was totally paranoid about the possibility of a nuclear holocaust after Reagan's "the missiles are on their way" gaffe, so much so that I just partied hard and neglected my career. Thank God I was wrong. What really bothers me is that so many Americans seem to actually MISS being that afraid, and seem to be constantly searching for an enemy as implacable as the old Soviet Union once seemed. I hope they never find one. And no, the "terrorists" just don't come close.
William, Cleveland, USA
I can recall as a child around the late seventies and early eighties my father joining the ROC (Royal Observer Corps) and explaining their role should a nuclear war unfold. He once took me down one of the bunkers and it was only then that I realised that if war did break out, if he would be there, then i would be at home only with my mother. I also remember him bringing home pamphlets on how a normal family should prepare for nuclear war, and what a family should do if a bomb was dropped. We started to follow the guidelines by buying a lot more groceries in tins for example. It all would have been quite futile if a nuclear bomb had exploded near us.
Mark, munich, Germany
I grew up in New Hampshire near Pease Airforce base which housed a strategic bomber wing. I vividly remember when the base would have drills and "flush" the bombers, usually in the early hours of the morning. The flight path was over my town and I would lie awake listening and counting as the B-52's would scramble. It's a sound and a feeling I will never forget.
Jonathan Fitts, Sarasota, Florida
My family lived in military housing in a small town in Germany. My father was assigned to an armor unit. About once every month or so, the phone would ring at about 4 a.m. and he would rush out of the house. About an hour later the whole neighbor would be shaken by an earthquake created by columns of armor that rolled by our quarters. They were making the 'rush to the Fulda Gap' where it was predicted soviet armor would attack from East Germany. It was an ominous, and made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It also, somehow, made me proud and feel safe.
George, Columbus, U.S.A.
I am 34 years old, which means I grew up during Cold War in USSR. My childhood wish was for The Atomic War not to happen and as I went to bed I thanked destiny (God was forbidden) that I was not born in U.S.A. or England where "kids were suffering". Only after Perestroika and independence (Latvia is a EU member now), I understood to what extent propoganda machine washed brains of millions of people. Very true in this article - nothing better than image of The Enemy for dictatorship. Much like what's happening now in Russia...
Guntis, Riga, Latvia
I served in the Royal Navy 1955 to 1967. The Cold War to me was on Iceland Patrol, that really was cold. If we had of been Nuked at any time then that was the end of mankind as we knew it. I don't think even the Russians wanted that.
In Germany I remember the sonic booms of the lightning fighters scrambled to intercept the russian planes. There was a man who would come and replace windows for free if they were broken by it.
Paul King, Ashford Kent
I remember the Cuba Crisis as a young child using my bed blankets as protection from both the shadow of an electric street light, not many years since being changed from a gas lamp, and my glass window which I expected to explode inwards from the awaited "big bomb".
Mike, Chelmsford, England
I went to Staff College at Greenwich in mid 80s and attended a lecture by a senior soviet diplomat. He gave a fascinating account of their foreign policy at the time and then invited questions. One of my fellow students asked "If I was an angel of Lenin looking down from my cloud at an oppressed people could I not be forgiven for thinking here was a country ripe for revolution?" - he replied - "I think the cloud would have to be very high up!"
Tony Douglas, ripon,n yorks
I remember meeting an East German girl in Budapest in 1990 who travelled for years to get from East Berlin to West Berlin. First she went to (then)Czechoslovakia, Hungary, (then)Yugoslavia, Austria and Germany, even marrying to get residence permits just to arrive in West Berlin to see the wall come down. Although I think she had a better life over those years than she'd have had in East Germany waiting for the unimaginable.
A Nemeth, Budapest, Hungary
Living out in East Berlin as a child in the late 80's was at times a bizarre experience. My father was posted at RAF Gatow air base. Imagine the scene on the base, which was 2 miles from the East German border when a suspected 'Eastie Beastie' was on the loose! You couldn't even go to the NAFFI for a coke!
In November 1990 I was staying with a Polish friend in Warsaw as part of a "post iron curtain" tour of Eastern Europe one year on. Margeret Thatcher came on the Polish TV news (she was in her evening dress in Brussels vowing to fight on after failing to secure victory in the first round of the Tory leadership contest - she went a few days later) and my host hailed her as the leader who single-handedly brought down the iron curtain. I said in my country we bestowed that honour on Mikhail Gorbachev, but he was having none of it. Gorbachev was as disliked in Soviet bloc as much as any of his predecessors.
mark serby, Sheffield
I was a Cold War army brat in Germany. Our house was designed to double as a hospital ward and our cellar as an air raid shelter. There were plans to evacuate non-combatants back to the UK which included destroying our pet dog. Travelling through the GDR to Berlin was the most exciting thing ever - we weren't allowed to converse with the GDR border guards as we didn't recognise East Germany so we could only liaise with the Soviet soldiers.
Obadiah Snooks, London
I was born in the last week of official 'war' in 1945. I remember the entire Cold War very well. The Cuban Missile Crisis forced us all to 'grow up' in ways not intended by either our parents or our teachers. One result of the Cold War was the emergence of a highly politicised world youth movement, which led on to the Hippy 'Counter Culture', which in turn spawned the 1970's 'Agitprop' revolutionary left wing radicalism, which also produced the Bader-Meinhof gang in Germany and the Brigadi Rossi in Italy. Then came the reaction as the next generation embraced 'yuppyism' and all things 'market driven'. Now we are faced with the prospect of Russia establishing a stranglehold on the E.U. by turning the oil and gas taps on and off. As the French say "Plus ça change . . . " Congratulations and thanks to "Ancient Biker" in Edinburgh for pointing us all in the right direction.
Old Fool in Spain, Alicante, Spain
I was a baby boomer and child of the Cold War - I recall the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis vividly, the country could not wait for Kennedy to press the button, later when he was killed [executed?] we immediately thought 'it's the Russians' until were were told it was an American assasin. We were brought up to mistrust Russia, my father as a soldier in Berlin in 1945/6 told of not only Nazi inhumanity when he visited their concentration camps, but also of the evil of the Communist dogma which allowed their 'heros' to rape their way through... Berlin and remove everything of value from E Germay & Austria to Russia. Later, I learned of Stalin's orchestrated purges... Let's have no doubt this is the same country, ready to wage economic warfare with oil & gas as a weapon. It takes millenia to change a leopard's spots, and probably as long to cure a nation of decades of brutality, received & given. Embrace Russia as a democracy? With care!
ancient biker, edinburgh
In the summer of 1960 I was 7 years old and went with my mother to visit my maternal grandmother in Berlin for the first. She lived in East Berlin, the wall had not been built yet and you could pass into each sector. On the flight in we were escorted by two Soviet MIG jets. I clearly remember the pilot announcing that this was routine, they were just checking us out. I visited both sectors and the contrast was startling, the west was modern and prosperous the east was drab and still scared by the war and full of soviet troops. My mother and I never saw my grandmother gain as the wall was built in 1961.
Bill Kramarenko, Nottingham
A dominant feeling back then, I think shared by many other people in Poland was a feeling of being encircled, kept isolated from the better side. There were different consequences of this feeling in people actions, also leading to the engagement in underground opposition. I would like to tell about other response, about a drive to go outside, to escape. However difficult it was to travel abroad back towards the end of communism, people were able to find the way to get out. As a youngster I travelled a lot too to Western countries. I didn't mind long and tedious process of application for a passport (you could not keep one at home!), going through political police meticulous checks and then towards the end of the process queuing for the whole day to pick up the document of freedom, pass to the better world. I still keep quite vivid images of some package tours: an old Polish coach, about to fall out. However it has one advantage: it was very easy to find it in busy streets of European cities, the only one with such a dodgy look :-) Some trip-mates were so desperate to stay at the "brighter side of the Iron curtain" that they weren't coming back from such trips at all, staying somewhere in West Germany or France with only one rucksack and applying for asylum seeker status I heard of some buses coming back completely empty, well at least except for some secret police members I am so pleased that there is no longer the Iron curtain between my homeland and the rest of Europe and that I can live anywhere in Europe without a risk that I won't be let come back and no more queues for a passport, it is still with me: my pass to freedom!
Iwo Bohr, originally Poland, currently in Münster, Germany,
Living on an RAF base with the RAF Police landrovers driving round with their sirens on getting all of the airmen out of bed for either a scramble or an exercise - RAF Scampton (Vulcan Bombers) and RAF Bruggen (Tornados)
S Johnston, Tring
On the 24th September 1964, i joined the Royal navy at the Heart of the Cold War. I went aboard HMS HERMES. In 1965, with my squadron 849 A Flight where we learnt about Russia, and the Threat. I was told then that the USAF, strategic Strike force under General Lemay, had 70 nuclear bombs to drop on Russia, should it be required, Do you know, that statement had no affect on me what so ever, it was as if it were normal, i was 16 years old.
jim evans, brighton
I'm only just old enough to remember the Berlin Wall toppling and the tearful shudders of my family as they realised Europe could become whole again. The whole house seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, and wine was opened...
office temp, London, UK
I remember the cuba crisis of 1963 and not being able to go to sleep as a thirteen year old because I was afraid of nuclear war. We all lived under that shadow during the post war era and thankfully it came to an end in 1989 -91, a watershed in world history. While not attempting to minimise the present dangers of terrorism they are relatively minor compared to that era and we in the west should not become too paranoic about this as it may do more damage than good to our society in the long run. As regards the present generation of Russian people, they live in a society which is in many ways more socially insecure than soviet society, but there is a freedom from the paranoia and associated fear that was prevalent at that time. There is a chance that it will return to a certain extent but I do not believe ever to the same degree as then. Russia has moved on.
Edward Bonney, Helsinki, Finland
I spent 5 years in the Royal Air Force in the 1970's as a linguist at a secret signals intercept station in West Berlin, listening to Russian pilots on operations in East Germany. The Cold War seemed very relevant and real then, but on looking back it was obviously just another stupid episode in mankind's long saga of obsession with war and conflict - how I wish we could all live in peace together!
I visited East Germany in 1984 as a teenager, at a time when East/West relations were at a very low point. I was followed everywhere, but not just by the police. Fortunately as a Westerner I was a great prospect for escaping the regime through marriage, so I had no shortage of female admirers throughout my stay. So the Cold War had some positive aspects after all.
Steve Rumbold, London, UK
Sadly, there will be no world peace, in the society we know, for 3000 years, some have to suffer for others to prosper until there will be a big change in its structure...(no more use of money) there is no world peace ! PS: i live a country that is a democracy for 17 years and a new member of EU... we still have the biggest ratio of secret service agents for citizen, in the WORLD !!!
jan, Bucharest, Romania
The cold war never went away. Al Qaeda was created with American money to fight one of these proxy wars, in Afghanistan. The Americans never did understand the proverb "if you sup with the Devil, use a long spoon".
Phil, London, UK
I remember in my younger days when my parents took us to visit their homeland in Poland we had to pass through East Germany. The communist built concrete buildings where westerners had to buy transit visas where bleak and looked daunting to a youngster. These were all surrounded by armed guards and by barbed wire fences. The whole ambience was very bleak and stark compared to West Germany. When crossing the Polish border we were subjected to thorough searches of the car. It appeared it was a search for the sake of a search. Nothing was ever found. It was just to be unpleasant. Communist Poland was much the same as Communist East Germany. Everywhere was bleak. Rural areas used horses and carts. There was very little mechanisation evident on farms. The sight of a western car made people stop and stare. When the car was parked on the streets, crowds used to gather to view it. Not all petrol stations had 4 star petrol in those days. Most had very low octane and the higher octane fuel had to be sought out. However, the black market for foreign currency was strong. The pound went a very long way there. Western goods were prized posessions. A pair of Levis or Wranglers were the ultimate things to aspire to. These were not available in the country, or at least if they were, they were either on the black market or, if on sale somewhere in a state run shop would have been priced in dollars at a price higher than back home. Upon entry and exit into communist countries you had to declare the amount of foreign currency you brought in and how much you took out and had to have receipts to prove where you changed the money and at what official Government exchange rate. Having been back to Poland following the fall of the Iron Curtain, how things have changed. It even seems that the clouds are no longer over the country. I no longer see the pollution that used to hang over steel mills and power stations. New stylish buildings have been erected in Warsaw that contrast starkly the old post war aparments built of concrete. The whole country seems to have re-awoken and emerged and is proud of itself once more. No graffiti, mindless vandalism or chavs. People respect one another.
In the 1970s, the years of detente, you knew that the Soviet Union and the eastern European countries tended to be highly secretive and unco-operative but a Third World War seemed a remote prospect. It all changed with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of the decade. Things seemed to get worse with, among other things, the deployment of cruise missiles in the early 1980s and there was a lot of hysteria whipped up in the media, convincing many people a nuclear war was inevitable. Then Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and everything started to change. Looking back the possibility of nuclear war was much exaggerrated but it is good we do not have the nuclear paranoia of the 1980s nowadays. Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the most deserving recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Robert, Campbeltown, Scotland
I hope the conflict will not escalate to the new level. I am quite sure it will not reach Cold War period tension, but average citizens may suffer from consequences of Litvienko case.
Sergey Vtorushin, Moscow, Russia
What a perverted view of recent history - all for the sake of fitting it to the current drift in British foreign policy. I am no Stalin sympathizer but I know one thing for sure - he did not want to "cut the USSR from the rest of the world". Get real - on the eve of Cold War USSR badly needed peace and quiet to recover from WWII. The country suffered immense - without any comparable precedent in history of mankind - loss of human life, and was essentially destroyed as economy. In these circumstances the blame for instigating the Cold War firmly rests on the British who never - both then and now - wanted to see strong and stable in-land power (the fleet is usless to deal with it). Stalin is only guilty of swallowing the British bait. In any case, the talk of human rights and authoritarianism has never been the real reason for starting the Cold War. Britain never wanted to see stable Continent for fear of becoming just an island that no one needs. Pre-condition for that stability has always been existence of strong and stable Russia on good terms with the rest of Europe. Today, just like after WWII, Britain is tirelessly looking to instigate and exploit old or create new divisions. This time Russians will not swallow the bait. Sooner or later Russians will find a way to show British their place. Britain is only an island.
Yevgeni, Moscow, Russia
Yevgeni, thank you for letting everyone in the West understand what the (not so regular) Russian think. You don't seem to be bothered by the fact that when Churchill was making that speech, the whole Eastern Europe was occupied by Red Army (liberated, you will no doubt tell us). Also for your lot, is not of concern that none of these countries wanted to be communist. None. "Stable continent"? Right. The communists destroyed entire generations, starting with the emerging middle class is all these countries. Their place was taken by a greedy gang of thugs and thief that ruined and kept these countries backward. Even after 17 years from the fall of the wall the Eastern Europe is not where it could have been without big brother's help. So, please, have the decency to shut up at least, I'm not expecting you will ever say sorry for what you did. Such a shame! Russia could have been a great nation without these KGB guys in power.
Brad Vrabete, Shannon, Ireland
It is disgraceful to read the comments like the ones, which are here from a Yevgeni. Not all Russians think it was all so lovely in the past and moreover to my mind the behaviour of the present politicians in the country makes it more vulnerable to getting back to some sort of isolation from the rest of the civilized world, the way it used to be before that. Like one of the famous writers, who visited the USSR back in its fifties said, the Soviets are happy not to realise how miserable they are in fact.
Rita, Moscow, Russia
Brad Vrabete, you are correct in saying that Russians could have been better off without secret police. However, you state that no eastern European country wanted to be communist. You are wrong. After the war, you were either fascist (not very popular) or communist. There were almost no democrats because democracy died in that region in early 1930s. BTW Russia is a great nation if you look at its contribution to arts, literature, science, architecture and weaponry. And remember were Eastern Europe or the world could have been with out the big brother- in the hands of fascists. So please be thankful for that.
I visited Berlin (east & west) in the late eighties. I remember how the bustle and bright lights of west Berlin contrasted with grey, stark, empty east Berlin, where it could take ten years on a waiting list to buy a Trabant. East Berlin was very cheap though - and we ate at the top restaurant, complete with musicians to accompany our meal, for about 12 Ostmarks (£4). I also remember being filmed in west Berlin because I was wearing a David Bowie 'Heroes' T-shirt. It's all so different now, and Berlin is fast becoming one of the greatest cities in Europe.
Rob Holman, Chislehurst, Kent, England
Here in America, the word "Communist" is still used as an insult or slur, even by the young. This no doubt came from the hatred of anyone of Red persuasion that the Americans were taught as children in the Cold War. Land of the Free? Right. You're free to believe whatever you like, support whichever political party you like, so long as the government approves.
Daniel Clarke, Atlanta, USA
The cold war wasn't just a military stand off, it affected every part of life for 40 years. Like a previous contributor, I suffered "nuclear nightmares" as a teenager in the earlier 80s. I wonder, if there wasn't a cold war, would cultural movements such as hippies, punks, yuppies have evolved, and would there have been such a decline in the West in religious practice ? As people began to realise that nuclear war was not survivable, psychologically they changed to start living for 'the now' rather than for the future or for the society around them. I think we are still years away from assessing the true historical and social impact of that period. In the nineties we were just glad that it was 'over', but the shadow has not yet receded, and many of today's problems can be traced to the political games in the cold war.
Rob, Southampton, UK
As a member of the group People to People High School Ambassador Program I visited what was then Czechoslovakia in 1988 at the age of 17 (seven countries on this trip). What a wake up call for us to have machine guns pointed at our faces, passports confiscated (luckily returned). We were watched at all times by authorities and you felt as you were walking on egg shells. One morning we got off our bus in Prague after visiting orphanages and there was a check point with soldiers on a corner. It seemed an odd place for it - until I saw that across the street was the US Embassy. The soldiers were taking photos of everyone coming in and out. Once inside I felt a rush of a deep breath as I realized for that brief moment I was back on US soil. A very unforgetable experience.
Diana, Akron Ohio USA
I remember during the early 1980's being totally paranoid about the prospect of a nuclear holocaust. Especially after watching the film 'The day after' and a British drama called 'Threads' about a nuclear attack on Shefield (of all places.) I was only about 10 at the time and I remember reading the book 'War Plan UK' which detailed UK civil defence strategy during a nuclear conflict. I still have the occasional nuclear war nightmare and I have a serial obssession with old Cold War bunkers. I want to buy one!
In 1968, when I was 18, I and 26 other students visited Moscow and Leningrad. We travelled by train starting in Europe at the Hook of Holland. There was a marked difference in the attitude and attention on the train when we crossed from West to East Berlin. From East Berlin to Warsaw, we were sent outside our compartments and told to face the wall while the guards went through our things. All of them were armed, which startled us as we'd never seen such a thing at home. Every twenty minutes the guards would come into the compartments and demand to see our passports and we were woken up if asleep. On arrival in the USSR (at a place called Brest), I remember being constantly stared at with amusement until our guide informed me that it was because I was wearing "men's jeans" - in other words with a fly in the front! We were constantly asked for biros and chewing gum. And we were followed everywhere, presumably by the KGB. It was a very tightly-organised trip and our gr!
eatest pleasure was had in evading the man following us whenever we had some free time to ourselves (only in the evenings and very rarely).
Ruth Greene, London
This is an appaling article. It implies that the cold war was initiated by Churchill, when in fact it was initiated by the clear fact that Stalin was imposing his will on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. That's why Churchill made his speech! He wasn't making it all up. Also, it was not the issue of the USSR cutting itself off from the world, it was the issue of the USSR seizing territory in the heart of Europe! In your timeline for instance you don't mention these key facts. As for the Berlin blockade, you should state the truth clearly: it was the Soviets blockading West Berlin (which was administered by the West) in order to extract concessions. The Americans organised an air-lift to save West Berlin from falling to Soviet bullying - something that West Germans were grateful for for decades. And please, why don't you mention Hungary 1956, Prague Spring 1968? And how about the mass deportations of Baltic peoples to Siberia and the forced Russification of those territories? Those were key events that again demonstrated to the whole world the extent of Soviet aggression.
Edward Christie, Vienna, Austria
I still remember the Cold War as a child in the 1960's, an adolescent in the 1970's, and an adult in the 1980s. While the Republicans, Democrats, and Communists were playing mind games with people, Latin America was being destroyed including Cuba. Cuba in heart and soul was destroyed by Castro who with the help and cooperation of Russia and the USA managed to tear up families, destroy a country, and impose an apartheid on the Cuban people. I myself was in Germany [as an 11 year old exchange student] in 1973 and crossed the border with Switzerland to see my Grandfather who had come from Cuba to do a lecture on Biochemistry. I myself almost created a crisis with my family in the USA flying over to Switzerland. Regardless, I had three weeks with my grandfather before he went back to Cuba and I went back to the USA [via Italy, France, and Spain]. I was unable to see family in Cuba or even visit Cuba because of these stupid laws practiced by the governing elites. What helped me through it all was the BBC. Another result of the changes of the Cold War; On Christmas Eve 1989: as Romania overthrew its dictator Ceaucescu, the Republicans and Democrats in my family sitting on the Dinner Table that Christmas Eve declared that the Cold War was all pre arranged. My Uncle and Aunt who had come from Cuba on a humanitarian visa were there to have their first Christmas Dinner in thirty years. My response to the Republicans and Democrats in that table was to declare myself a member of the Libertarian Party in America. The Republicans and Democrats choked on their food. My uncle and aunt returned to Cuba to announce that I had declared my independence.
Roberto Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR, Miami Florida
Back then the countries had ideas. People were defending their ideals. There was talk going on. What now? Outright struggle for control and resources and much less some remnants of humanitarism.
Pathetic. Shameful. The muslim guys have idealogical agenda. We in the west do not, or have lost it. It is critical that there is an idealogical response to global terrorism, open discussion on the reasoning of it. If this kind of guys want to be enemies of everybody, lets face it and talk about it and let the muslim population hear that and have a say...
Dennis, New York, USA
With the end of the Cold war and the death of the Soviet Union, the third world was orphaned. With the absense of the cold, as absurd as this may sound, the US has become the only, and by extension irresponsible, policeman on the streets of the world scene. While we rejoice in the end of an era that has caused fear and insecurity we see ourselves in an uncertain future where the world lies at the mercy of same crazy man "empwered by God", G.W. Bush, and his cronies toying with the nations of the third world as if they were some plastic toys in a child's bedroom.
Samir Kablaoui, Freehold, NJ
...please do not criticize USSR's contact in Eastern Europe after 1945: everything was agreed with US and UK at Yalta and later Potsdam conference. As far as the "Iron curtain" speech is concerned, Churchill was lamenting the fact that due to the Yalta agreement he could not get his hand over Czechoslovakia or Poland or Hungary. However, he did get his hand over my country Greece and instigated a Civil War (followed by decades of civil strife) and at the same time tricked us over Cyprus (which he had promised to be united with Greece). Between him and Moscow, most Greeks would have preferred the latter since the Russians have always been our friends, allies and orthodox brothers.
But we were allocated to the "free world"...
Kleandros Exarhiotis, Athens, Greece
Living in Poland in th 70s I remember all the crying that took place in "western" Europe when Reagan deployed Pershing missiles there. To us in Poland it looked like the "westerners" chicken again, and without the US they would gladly capitulate to the USSR or became another "Finland" just for comfort of their live. In Poland my generation had a clear understanding that we are still under soviet occupation, mainly because "allies" abandoned Poland, and that communists only understand tough facts.
Unfortunately the three "core" countries of "western" Europe looked like spineless conformists to those over the curtain at that time.
Jerzy, Warsaw, Poland
It's worth remembering that the Twenties and Thirties were also a period of cold relations between the USSR and the "West". Tony Judt's book "Postwar" makes clear the real Cold War started in the early 20s. The wartime alliance was a break; the Cold War resumed quickly once World War II was over. And let's not forget that from August 24, 1939 until June 22, 1941, the Third Reich and the USSR were allies, under the guise of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact or the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and formally known as the "Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". The Western allies did not acquit themselves well in the period leading up to September 1, 1939, but they didn't form an alliance with Hitler, either. Franklin Mount Brooklyn, NY USA
Franklin Mount, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Two things stand out in my memory of the Cold War: How liberals stabbed their communist allies in the back after WWII, purging them from labor unions, academia, etc. In this case I agree with conservatives: You can't trust a liberal. Second, how everyone and their mother wants to take credit for ending, or "winning", the Cold War. Reagan, the Pope, even Osama Bin Laden are claimed to be responsible. I believe the Russian people simply got tired of it.
Fox Berlin, San Diego, USA
I was serving in the Air Force at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska between 1985-1991. We had a sign outside of the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing Headquarters that listed the number of Soviet bombers that we're intercepted during the month. It was a fairly common to watch pairs of fully armed F-15 Eagles scramble down the runway in full afterburner on there way to intercept "enemy" bombers making simulated cruise missile attacks on us. I knew the cold war was over when in the summer of 1989 or 1990. I noticed two unfamiliar aircraft flying over the base preparing to land. They were MIG-29s of the Soviet Air Force stopping in Alaska to refuel on their way to an air show in Canada.
Mike Shapiro, West Point, Utah, USA
My father was in the Norwegian military during the cold war and I did a stint in uniform myself from 1977 to 1979, so I grew up and then served in the Arctic where Norway shared a border with the Soviet Union. Once, while out on patrol and sleeping in tents we measured the temperature to minus 43 degrees C. Minus 20 - 25, which is colder than in your average deep freeze, was quite normal during the long winters. So although there wasn't actually a war it was certainly cold.