The war that wasn’t

One of Brooker’s ‘Screen wipe’ episodes reminded (a whole playlist on YouTube) of the many nuclear war shows (fiction and documentaries) that were shown in the Eighties in West European countries. Some of the shows I’ve mentioned here before. Most memorable was ‘The Day After’ and that only because it was shown in school to either scare us or scare our enemies. Remarkably, I don’t remember ever getting training in school about how to proceed during and after nuclear explosions but the most stinging reminder of the constant threat were the monthly (weekly?) noon test sirens.

Some events that seem to tip the balance to an all out war were the election of Ronald Reagan (relations between the west and the USSR started to cool down, the start of the rhetoric), the massive demonstrations against cruise missiles in West Europe and the arms race, with most notably, the ‘Star Wars program’.

I also remember the apparent sudden deaths of all these Russian leaders and the moment that Gorbachev was elected as the supreme USSR leader (Reykjavik summit). From then on, the Cold War slowly faded away to the background.

Thinking back, or rather, being reminded of those Eighties, brings up so many memories of events that heightened the threat level, that I wonder if we would have been prepared for an all-out war. Unlikely, I guess: and maybe as a young kid, it was probably a good idea not to think and worry about this.

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