Up to date information on the comings and goings in The Diefenbunker: Canada's Cold War Museum. Also a behind the scenes look at how the museum operates and how the museum team is working after our capacity expansion project to which grew our capacity from 60 to 420 in July 2010!

The Cold War in an Hour: iPhone App

Posted by Eric Espig On 13:26

From iTunes preview:

"History In An Hour" is a series of e-books to help the reader learn the basic facts of a given subject area with as little effort as possible. During the Second World War, for example, exactly what was Dunkirk about, or the Normandy Landings? During the Cold War, what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis, why was there a wall in Berlin? It's all here in a straight narrative. No embedded links to divert your attention, nor a daunting book of 600 pages with a 35 page introduction. Just straight in, to the point, sixty minutes, done. Then, having absorbed the basics, you may feel inspired to explore further. Quick, easy-to-read and engaging history... ebooks to read in an hour.
*The Cold War In An Hour* is the first title in the History In An Hour series to be turned into an iPhone app.

Download the app here: 
The Cold War in an Hour

Good Night, and Good Luck. A Review by Les

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:44

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK - a movie about yesterday, with relevance for today.         

"Will that be an X-ray or a full body pat-down?"

After the expletives are deleted your thoughts may dwell on ideas such as: "The balance of national security with personal liberties is not right!" and "Am I the only one to think that the government is going too far?"
This month's movie (March 15) "Good Night and Good Luck" will take you back to the 1950s when conditions were not much different than today for many citizens of North America, a time when perceptions of external and internal threats lead to government intrusions into the private lives of its citizens and threats to civil liberties.

Shown in black and white, to reflect the technology of television news documentaries of the era, this movie reflects the "Red Scare" that seized North America. Indeed, the scare may well have started in Ottawa with the defection of Igor Gouzenko from the Soviet Embassy in September 1945.

As a volunteer interpreter at the Diefenbunker it is inappropriate of me to discuss religion or politics with visitors. However, as a Baby Boomer I feel obligated to remind visitors of the perceived threat of world domination by communism. The enemy was the former Soviet Union which had developed a network of spies and "fellow travelers" even before the Cold War started.

Although having no credentials as a movie critic I have no problem recommending this movie. I found myself feeling the fears and tensions of the era, even though I knew the outcome.  Certainly with no credentials as a historian, but with limited research as to the facts behind this movie, I believe that it correctly reflects the facts surrounding the events depicted.

The movie is not an attack on Senator McCarthy, the archival footage of his speeches that were used in the movie do a good job of that. The movie is not a biography of the life of the protagonist, television news pioneer Edward R. Murrow. It is a minor homage to him as a TV personality who spoke out against stifled debate. Yes, the movie reflects the norms of the era - smoking is taken as something that everyone does, discrimination based upon gender preferences is accepted, and a woman's role is usually subordinate to that of men.

Watching this movie in an underground bunker that still reflects the fears of the 1945 - 1989 era adds a unique dimension to reflecting upon the issues and dangers of the Cold War. Come out and judge for yourself.

At the end of the movie you may well ask yourself:  "How good a job do the media of today do in voicing public dissent against the government?" and  "What is the threat profile of today's public enemy?"

Guest Curator, Cold War Cinema

Cold War Cinema, Guest Curator: Les

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:37

The new Spring 2011 Cold War Cinema schedule is unique and interesting in that it has been curated by Les, one of the many volunteer experts at the Diefenbunker. Les, retired from the Canadian Armed Forces after 35 years of service, has been a volunteer guide / interpreter at the Diefenbunker for several years and has often expressed an interest in the movies that we show. Having spoken up, he must now "put up", therefore he will shortly prepare a review on a few movies to entice you to visit the museum on a movie night, to have a tour of the bunker with him before the movie and then to see the movie(s) that he has proposed. At the end of the movie you will be invited to share your ideas on the movie with him and with the rest of the viewers. I have been kicking around 2 names for this program: "Les is More: Cold War Films and The Diefenbunker" versus "Les Talk and More Action: The Cold War and Hollywood". The reviews will be presented monthly and appear here on the DiefenBlog and in eFusion, the Diefenbunker monthly newsletter, so be sure to "stay tuned".  

Les says that as a Baby Boomer born and growing up in central Canada he was exposed to, and influenced by, the many TV, movie and print publications that often had as a focus the evils of communism and the fears that communism would be spread around the world by force and or through subterfuge. As a young child he was therefore familiar with the Korean War events, the Suez Crisis that could have expanded into a global conflict, the many failed revolutions in Eastern Europe as nations tried to overthrow their imposed communist governments, the white trails in the Canadian sky that reflected high flying military aircraft on training missions, the stories of spies betraying the West to the East, and the thrills and the fears of Sputnik as the Soviets appeared to be winning the space race and possibly the arms race. The newspapers seemed to be constantly full of some military conflict that could lead to a global war, a war upon which the West would depend upon nuclear weapons. Secrets about these weapons had to be kept, military forces had to be ready, and spies could not be tolerated.  

Les has chosen 3 very well made and deservedly discussed cold war films which also have very high entertainment value and production quality. Also, as a Cold War Cinema first, an online poll which will remain open right up until until 1 hour before the showing of the film on Volunteer Appreciation night, April 12, 2011 (see above). Now we can finally determine which film is more popular among Bunker fans: Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, Gorky park, or The Sum of all Fears.

So Thank you Les, for facilitating these cold war discussions and sharing your insights about how these films were both mirrors and products of the incredibly tense times in which they were created. "Les...Camera....Action!"

Cold War Cinema; Spring 2011

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:44