The Cold War

At the end of the Second World War, Berlin was split into two sections. One area was controlled by the Soviets (East Berlin) and the other (West Berlin) was controlled by the British, French and Americans. Berlin was also surrounded by Russian occupied East Germany. Thousands of disaffected East Germans defected to the West via West Berlin. Starting on 13 August 1961, a concrete wall was constructed around the West Berlin sector to ‘protect’ the population from the evil influences of the West.

Commencing in 1960, on the North Yorkshire moors, the huge ‘golf balls’ of the Fylingdale Early Warning Station were constructed. This gave Britain the benefit of four minutes’ warning of a nuclear attack and America about thirty minutes. My Trade School visited the construction site and we walked the length of the tunnels to inspect the plumbers’ handiwork on the lead lined tunnel walls.

The precautions were not unfounded. On 1st May 1960, Russia shot down an American U2 spy plane, piloted by Gary Powers, while in Soviet airspace. In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US and Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear war.

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