Known unknown facts about Cold War

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Known unknown facts about Cold War

The Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union lasted for decades and resulted in anti-communist suspicions and international incidents that led the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear disaster.

The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional wars known as proxy wars. The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in 1945.

The Cold War was waged on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and had only limited recourse to weapons. The term was first used by the English writer George Orwell in an article published in 1945 to refer to what he predicted would be a nuclear stalemate between “two or three monstrous super-states, each possessed of a weapon by which millions of people can be wiped out in a few seconds.

The Cold War split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the Soviet Union and the United States as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.


There also have some more lesser-known facts about the Cold War that you probably would’ve never guessed.

So, let's explore it -


  • The USSR could identify fake Soviet passports because the metal staples wouldn't rust.

  • Russia secretly had maps so detailed of the Canadian Arctic during the Cold-War that other ships even now use them over official maps.

  • The 12-foot Chrysler Air Raid Sirens placed around the US during this time were so powerful that they could turn fog into rain!

  • The USSR and the US almost had a joint space program, but after Kennedy was assassinated, the plan fell through.

  • The term "Cold War" was coined by George Orwell in his book "Animal Farm."

  • The USSR and the USA were originally in talks to jointly go into space together during the Cold War. The USSR almost accepted but then President Kennedy was assassinated and the Soviets didn’t trust Vice President Johnson, so the plan fell through.

  • In an attempt to ease tensions between the USSR and the West, 18-year-old German pilot Mathias Rust flew through Soviet defenses and landed in the Red Square.

  • In the 1930’s starlet, Hedy Lamarr invented a new technology to stop Nazi’s from jamming Navy torpedoes, but the idea was rejected until 1962 and implemented during the Cold War. Her frequency hopping technology is also the basis for modern Bluetooth.

  • The Tsar Bomba is the largest nuclear weapon to ever be detonated. The Soviets performed the detonation in the Arctic and the cloud rose to 7 times the height of Mount Everest!

  • During the Cold War, USSR thought that the heavily trafficked building in the center courtyard of the Pentagon was a top-secret meeting room and pointed nukes at it. It was a hot dog stand.

  • 9 presidents were in office during the Cold War. They were Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.

  • In 1945, a group of Soviet children gave the US ambassador a seal for his office. Seven years later, it was found to contain a listening device. Since then the device has come to be called The Thing.

  • Soviet Colonel Stanislav Petrov was monitoring Soviet radar when it showed an all-out nuclear attack by the US. He had a split second to respond and decided against firing back.

  • During the Cold War, the C.I.A. made a pornographic video featuring a lookalike of the Indonesian President in an attempt to discredit him, including designing a full-face mask resembling the President.

  • During the Cold War, USA considered airdropping enormous condoms labeled “Medium” into USSR, to demoralize them against an anatomically superior American Army.

  • During the Cold War, America used bears to test their ejector seats in supersonic jets.

  • The term “Third World Country” does not mean poor, it refers to a country which was not aligned with either America/First World or Soviet/Second World during the Cold War.

  • During the cold war, America sent Romania 20,000 bibles, which the Romanians subsequently turned into toilet paper because they had a shortage.

  • The Soviet Union shot down a Korean civilian Boeing 747 that unknowingly entered its airspace during the Cold War, killing all 269 passengers. This incident prompted the U.S. to make the GPS technology available for civilian use.

  • During the Cold War, maps distributed in the US utilized distorted map projections to make the USSR and Vietnam seem larger, closer and more “menacing.”

  • During the height of the cold war, Neil Armstrong's final task on the moon was to place memorial items honoring fallen Russian cosmonauts.

  • Because of cold war regulations, every street in China is in slightly the wrong place on Google Maps.

  • Nuclear bombers from the Cold War were typically painted white or with a white underside to reflect light from the nuclear blast it would deliver, the paint is called "anti-flash white".

  • The US ignored war crime charges against many Nazis and recruited them in their cold war efforts.

  • The Cold War lasted 40 years, during which time the United States and the Soviet Union tried to control as many countries as possible, even if those countries were not very valuable economically or strategically.

  • Both President Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev agreed that they would pause the Cold War if there was ever an alien invasion.

  • U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared the official end of the Cold War at the Malta Summit in 1989.

  • During the Cold War, over 11 million people died in various conflicts where the Americans supplied one side and the Soviets supplied the other.


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