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Latest hand-picked Cold War news and articles

Spy Kim Philby died disillusioned with communism: Why do old people live so badly here?
Kim Philby, the most successful of the Cambridge spies, attempted to drink himself to death in Moscow because he was disillusioned with communism and tortured by his own failings, his last wife Rufina Pukhova has revealed in an interview.

"Kim believed in a just society and devoted his whole life to communism. And here he was struck by disappointment, brought to tears. He said, 'Why do old people live so badly here? After all, they won the war.'"

5 times the United States almost nuked itself by accident
We spent the Cold War in fear that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. would start a nuclear conflict. In reality we came far closer to blowing ourselves up with nuclear weapons than we ever came to the Third World War. Nuclear incidents have a bunch of ominous military code names, like Broken Arrow, Faded Giant or NUCFLASH. There are actually lots of cases like these, but here are 5 major ones that happened in the United States.

The Wall: A World Divided documentary film
By now, an entire generation has grown up thinking of the Berlin Wall as the place where Ronald Reagan issued his 6-word challenge to his Soviet counterpart in 1987: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." To an earlier generation, it was the inspiration for John F. Kennedy to declare "Ich bin ein Berliner" in 1963. But in the documentary film "The Wall: A World Divided" narrator Joe Morton offers a good perspective on the events that brought down the wall on Nov. 9, 1989, after 28 years during which it had become the most visible symbol of the Cold War.

Why did communists had a massive bunker in the East Germany (photos)
German historians are divided over a huge Communist-era bunker in the East Germany. Was it to be used as a command post in the event of World War II? Riding in fully enclosed trucks, a military crew under the command of the East German National People's Army was driven to a remote woodlot near Kossa in Saxony. First, the soldiers set up 6km of steel fencing with 6,000 volts of electricity. The secret fortress, which was finished in 1979, included 6 bunkers, and built with blast-resistant steel doors and decontamination showers. Anyone interested in touring the premises today should wear rubber boots.

Nuclear bunker attracted 42 bids, finally fetching 20,600 Pounds in Derbyshire, UK
A nuclear bunker in Derbyshire has sold for Б20,600 in an eBay auction. The decommissioned Cold War bunker, built in 1959 as a monitoring post by the Royal Observer Corps (ROC), pulled in 42 bids. The bunker, which sits on a 2,756 sq ft plot, has lighting and a phone line and can be used as living accommodation for short periods. It was depicted by the private seller as "a rare opportunity to acquire a valuable piece of Cold War history. The bunker can continue to be used as limited living accommodation for short periods or adventure holidays."

Secret CIA manual - "Trickery and Deception" - from Cold War era on sale
A CIA manual teaching American agents on the use of magic tricks during the Cold War has gone on sale. It was written in 1953 by magician John Mulholland for a fee of $3,000. It includes deceptions such as spiking drinks and pocketing small items. The CIA ordered copies destroyed in the 1970s, but one survived. It has been republished as The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception. The material - now unclassified - was uncovered by espionage historian Keith Melton, and Bob Wallace, a former CIA director. The guide was part of a bigger CIA programme, called Project MK-Ultra, aimed at countering the Soviet mind-control techniques of the Cold War era.

Fidel Castro's sister Juanita Castro helped CIA against Cuban leaders
Juanita Castro, the younger sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, worked for the CIA during the Cold War, she reveals in her new memoir. Juanita Castro, at first a supporter of the Cuban revolution that catapulted Fidel Castro to power in 1959, said she became disillusioned by growing injustice. In the book - My Brothers Fidel and Raul, the Secret History - she said she was introduced to the CIA through a close friend on the island nation, Virginia Leitao da Cunha, wife of the Brazilian ambassador to Cuba in the 1960s. Castro agreed to help on the condition that she would not do anything violent against her brothers.

Russia's Doomsday Machine still ready for action?
It's supposed to be science fiction: A device that triggers a nuclear attack in the event of an American strike against Russia. But the "Dr. Strangelove"-like technology isn't fantasy. The Cold War-era Soviet "doomsday machine" was - and might still be - very much a reality. From interviews with former Soviet arms officials and Defense Department documents, Wired editor Nicholas Thompson found out that the system was built 25 years ago to make sure a nuclear retaliation if Russia were attacked by the U.S. And though the Iron Curtain was removed, it's thought that the "doomsday" system was never switched off.

Tours of escape tunnels under the Berlin Wall
When the East German government set up the Berlin Wall in 1961 to prevent its citizens from leaving, the regime failed to consider the creativity of those willing to risk anything to escape the communist system. But several hundred took advantage of the soft soil beneath Berlin to tunnel their way under the wall. Today Berlin's Cold War-era bunker and tunnel system has become one of the most popular attractions for tourists. In 2008, over 150,000 visitors explored the underground of the German capital, touring the bunkers and tunnels that serve as a chilling reminder of the city's grim history.

Anthony Blunt: passing secrets to Communist Russia was the biggest mistake of my life
The memoirs of spy Anthony Blunt reveal how he regarded passing British secrets to Communist Russia as the "biggest mistake of my life". He passed secret documents to the Soviets while a WWII agent for MI5. Blunt was part of the Cambridge spy ring, with Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. His memoirs, at the British Library in London, says a "naive" desire to help Moscow beat fascism motivated him. Blunt penned the 30,000-word document after PM Margaret Thatcher exposed his treachery in 1979. Blunt says he became disillusioned with Moscow, wishing only to "return to my normal academic life". However, his knowledge of the others in the spy ring made this impossible.