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08.01 Roots of the Cold War: Assessment

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Varsha Parthasarathy

on 29 July 2016

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Transcript of 08.01 Roots of the Cold War: Assessment

Part A
Jane Jeans

Year of Birth:

Places lived between 1945 and 1989:
Jacksonville, Florida

Date & Time of Interview:
July 15 @ 1 p.m.

08.01 Roots of the Cold War: Assessment
What books, movies, cartoons, or posters did you see that villainized either country, capitalists, communists, or dealt with the Cold War? How did they shape your impressions at that time?

I remember watching the movie
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
. I didn't know the aliens represented communists, until my dad told me. I thought the aliens looked scary, and I basically assumed that communists must be scary too. Everything changed....there was always another meaning to everything! Metaphors everywhere! On the newspaper, at malls, and even in comic books.

What were you taught in school and at home about the conflict? What did your school and family teach about nuclear threats and nuclear war?

At school I was taught to duck and cover. We had drills that we practiced a lot. At home, my parents were planning on getting a bomb shelter in our basement. My parents and my school, taught me that nuclear wars are deadly and can kill all living things on Earth. Using nuclear bombs will also kill civilians who aren't involved in a nuclear war.
Were you or any of your family members ever afraid that there would be a hot war or nuclear war between the two countries? When did you feel that way? If yes, did you do anything to prepare or get ready for it?

Yes we were. Everyone was. I started to feel that way when I found out that the U.S. and the USSR developed hydrogen bombs. I was almost 100% sure that we were all going to die. 1 of those bombs is greater than the effect of 2,500 Hiroshima atomic bombs. As soon as our bomb shelter was built, my family and I started to stock food, water, and blankets.

What aspects of the Space Race, or competition to explore space, do you remember? Was "Space Race" a phrase that you remember using at the time? What did it mean to you?

I remember hearing that Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. Yes I remember using the word Space Race. To me, it sounded like a competition to see who was better. And that is what it was.
Can you think of any specific examples of rivalry between the USA and USSR in other areas of life, such as sports?

Yes, in the 1980 Winter Olympics, When the US team beat the USSR team in hockey, and took home gold medals. And the famous phrase, "Miracle on ice" refers to that.

Do you remember the Berlin Wall coming down? How did it make you feel? How have your feelings about that era changed since 1989 and the Berlin Wall coming down?

Yes I do remember! I was glad to hear about it! Most Germans had been separated from their families and friends for 28 years! I felt a lot more relieved. I felt like the world will actually be peaceful with no violence.

What lessons should students today take away from the Cold War?

Students have to understand that the USSR's downfall was an outcome of the war. And the nuclear weapons that both countries built were not actually used. If they were, then it would have caused total chaos. And I never really thought that bomb shelters can save someone. I felt like everyone were just trying to convince me that they would work. But I don't think any lesson should be taken away from the Cold War.
Part C
Can anything like this happen again?

The chances are very low. If there is another Cold War, then not only will the living things on Earth be affected, but Earth itself. I don't think anyone would want to take such a risk.

Can Communism go extinct in the future?

Communism has been here since the 19th century. And it hasn't ended. If there are leaders in those countries, in the future, that decide to change their communist belief, then there is a slight chance.
Step 5
What did you learn from the primary sources or lesson that was most surprising and why?

The Duck and Cover video from the primary sources surprised me a lot. Kids were taught to take cover no matter where they were. And when the US and the USSR built so many deadly weapons, did they not realize that the entire human race, and the lives of all other living things were at stake? And I didn't know there were rivalries in sports too. They wanted to prove that one was better than the other.

How might a Russian adult have responded differently to the interview questions?

Well the Russian point of view must have seen propaganda that represented the Americans as villains. And they must have feared the US, when the US made the first hydrogen bomb. And they must have been proud that their cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to journey into outer space.
Part B
When was the first time you remember hearing about the conflict between the Soviet Union (or the USSR) and the United States? Tell me about it.

I remember hearing about it at school. The first time I heard it was when I was in 4th grade. Everyone were talking about it in class. I remember asking my parents about it when I got home. They told me that the U.S. and the USSR are experiencing problems, and they will soon come to a solution. They told me that everything will be okay.

What does the term “Cold War” mean to you? What do you remember seeing or reading in the news about the Cold War, or conflict between the USSR and the United States?

The term, Cold War means a time of propaganda to me. I remember watching the news on my TV with my family. News reporters seemed very concerned and told us that both sides were making deadlier weapons. I realized that if they kept going, and used them, then they could eradicate all life on Earth. I couldn't sleep for days thinking about this. I kept thinking that we would go extinct, just like the dinosaurs.
Option B:
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