The map above shows how the Soviet Union thought World War 3 might play out in Europe.
The red mushroom clouds represent planned nuclear strikes on cities and targets in central Europe and the blue mushroom clouds represent the anticipated NATO response.
The map was smuggled out by the Polish and delivered to the Americans during the Cold War. It’s based on the premise that NATO ground forces strike first and that the USSR would use its nuclear arsenal to halt, or at least slow their advance.
Thankfully this scenario never happened, but it’s a reminder just how close Europe and the World were to total nuclear annihilation, just one generation ago.
If you’re interested in how many times the world was on the brink during the Cold War, you may want to read the following books:
- Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
- The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy
- The Cold War: A New History
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