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Civil Defense During Nuclear Threat
Transcript of Civil Defense During Nuclear Threat
It balanced the paradox of nuclear readiness: they had to guard atomic secrets but also reveal enough to motivate participation, frightening images had to be balanced with reassuring ones
•Duck and cover was made when fallout shelters weren’t thought of as necessary (1951); duck and cover was simply to help people cope with fear and possibly protect them from flying debris Operation Alert
(1954-1961) Truth About Nuclear Fallout Life Magazine Feb. 1955 The Doctrine of Self-Help Why pursue self-help? The govt. did not have enough money to fund the protection of all citizens with all the money going towards nuclear technology; with the DOY method, the FCDA could spend on informational pamphlets, practice procedures, and other preparation.
It was really the only viable solution b/c ppl evacuation proved itself impossible and the govt. couldn’t fund everyone’s pre-attack preparation and post-attack welfare Historians' Opposing Views of 1950's Government Criticism Sympathy Difficult situation: they were trying to cut back on spending altogether, by focusing on nuclear spending rather than military spending but this ended up digging them into a deeper hole because they now had the country to defend
Advantages of self-help
The government had no way of protecting all citizens equally in their financial situation and they didn’t want peopel believing they could give welfare to everyone because then citizens wouldn’t practice civil defense
Promoted more defense practice
•It avoided becoming a garrison state, or a centralized military state, that would take away citizens liberties that would likely occur if there was an attack and the government couldn’t help people bounce back Questions? What is Civil Defense? Civil Defense is the protection of a country's civilians and property by preparation for attacks in wartime
Defense is always a concern of the government, but it became especially important during the Nuclear Age. The US bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki ended WWII and gave US the victory. As a result, Americans became too comfortable because they now had a nuclear monopoly and were on top of the world After the bombings, Truman cut back on military spending to save money and found investing in nuclear stockpile would be cheaper while keeping US on top. Eisenhower agreed and said: "our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction..." The Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) FCDA staged mock nuclear attack drills to practice evacuation skills of citizens.
This photo shows President Eisenhower and other government members participating in Operation Alert, evacuating, and discussing the operation’s results
In the end, Operation Alert only proved that evacuation of major cities was impossible. Civil defense establishment would have to consider other options like sheltering Truth About Nuclear Fallout (Continued) •Nuclear fallout is harmful radioactive residue that lingers and migrates after a nuclear explosion•Fallout didn’t become a major concern in civil defense until about 1955 •In the early part of the decade, the government was testing numerous atomic and hydrogen bombs; to keep American approval, they greatly hushed the detrimental long-term effects of nuclear explosion•This lead to the very important emergence of fallout shelters and the doctrine of self-help •Self-help was a do-it-yourself program endorsed tremendously by the government; It relied on the domestic breadwinner’s salary and the traditional American virtues of self-determination, personal responsibility, and voluntary cooperation, which relieved the burden off the government.
•Here’s a family-constructed fallout shelter typical of the mid 50s. The expressions of the family members all show the seriousness of their shelter practicing efforts The government was ridiculed for keeping in crucial info that could protect the health of citizens. Nuclear fallout was kept in the dark for some time so that the US could push their nuclear agenda by frequently testing bombs
A member of the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) said “if we can’t see any problem now, no problem exists.” However there was evidence of radiation effects from US bomb testing long before
The US was putting billions into testing the “clean” hydrogen bomb that really had just as many harmful effects as atomic bombs
They gave extremely limited funds to the FCDA; they poured billions of dollars into nuclear technology and contributed very little to the civil defense program; some historians found this ridiculous because the protection of the country is so important during wartime.