Haute Vitrine

PHOTOGRAPHS by LESLIE HOSSACK

Tag: 1961

John Kennedy: mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind

Office, Level 400, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

At the height of the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September 1961.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind… Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory … a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and waters and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind … Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

Kennedy’s remarks help us understand the tremendous tensions that characterized this period of history. The political dialogue of the day fostered fear in order to promote preparation. The poster in the office shown in the photograph above reads: So it can’t happen here, eh? Plan for tomorrow … today!

Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational in December 1961. In the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

The Diefenbunker was closed in 1994 and it is now home to Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information visit www.diefenbunker.ca

he was perfectly capable of taking the world to the brink of thermonuclear destruction

Radio Room, Level 400, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Communication is always critical, but especially during a national emergency. The Radio Room on Level 400 of the Diefenbunker is one of the many communication systems installed in the massive underground bunker. The Diefenbunker was designed to be the main site for Canadian government operations in the event of a nuclear attack. It was also a key national military telecommunications site.

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

It was the time of Khrushchev and Kennedy, atomic testing and primal fear. Looking back on the Cold War, Diefenbaker said in his memoirs: “I knew that President Kennedy… thought he had something to prove in his personal dealings with Khrushchev after their unpleasant Vienna meeting…. I considered that he was perfectly capable of taking the world to the brink of thermonuclear destruction to prove himself the man for our times, a courageous champion of Western democracy.”

After more than 30 years of operation, the Diefenbunker was closed by the Department of National Defence in 1994. The complex is now home to Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information visit www.diefenbunker.ca

The Cold War: the sum of all fears

Exterior, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

Escape Hatch, Room 416A, Level 400, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. Between 1959 and 1961, this massive complex was secretly constructed in a hillside on farmland just west of Ottawa. It was nicknamed the Diefenbunker after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to the bunker.

There were few visible signs of the underground shelter; however, the conical cap of one of the two escape hatches can be seen on the right hand side of the top photograph. The bottom image shows an individual in the bunker preparing to exit during an internal emergency, knowing that the outside environment has been devastated by nuclear attack. This must be the ultimate Catch 22.

With this scenario in mind, it is easy to understand why several scenes from the movie The Sum of All Fears were shot in the Diefenbunker. This 2002 American film, based on the novel by Tom Clancy, starred Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman. The title says it all.

Following the end of the Cold war, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Department of National Defence closed the complex in 1994. It is now Canada’s Cold War Museum. Please visit the Parks Canada site for more information about The Diefenbunker.

You have heard the siren sound the alert.

Federal Warning Centre, Level 300, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

The Federal Warning Centre in the Diefenbunker was located next door to the War Cabinet Room, which was featured in yesterday’s post. In the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War, military personnel working in the room pictured above would issue an order triggering the country-wide system of air raid sirens. The signs on the command desk in front of the four large chairs at the top of the room read: Nuclear Defence Ops Advisor, Federal Warning Officer, Senior Govt. of Canada Rep. and Senior Civil Defence Officer. For more details, please click on the photograph.

Tocsin B, a nuclear attack exercise, took place in Canada on November 13th 1961. The air raid sirens were tested across the country and then Prime Minister Diefenbaker began a CBC Radio broadcast with the words: “My fellow Canadians, you have just heard the siren sound the national alert.” For this and other Cold War stories, visit the CBC Archives.

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. In the event of a nuclear war, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

The Diefenbunker is now Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information please visit www.diefenbunker.ca

The survivors would envy the dead.

War Cabinet Room, Level 300, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

The War Cabinet Room in the Diefenbunker was located just down the corridor from the Prime Minister’s Suite, which was featured in yesterday’s post. In the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War, Canada would have been governed from the room pictured above. The War Cabinet consisted of the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and a minimum of three other ministers of the Crown.

In the 1960s, preparations for this scenario were carried out under the threat of global annihilation. In July 1963, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev was quoted in Pravda as saying that, in the event of nuclear war, “The survivors would envy the dead.” President John F. Kennedy responded: “A full scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes…could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans, and Russians, as well as untold numbers elsewhere. And the survivors – as Chairman Khrushchev warned the Communist Chinese, ‘the survivors would envy the dead.’ For they would inherit a world so devastated by explosions and poison and fire that today we cannot conceive of its horrors.”

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

The Diefenbunker is now Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information please visit www.diefenbunker.ca

Kennedy advises building of fallout shelters

Prime Minister’s Suite, Level 300, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

The Prime Minister’s suite in the Diefenbunker consisted of three rooms: an office, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The single bed seen in this photograph is the original; no spouses were allowed into the bunker. The picture on the night stand is of Olive Diefenbaker, the PM’s wife. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker stated that he would not report to the bunker in the event of a nuclear attack because his wife was not allowed to go with him. In fact, he never entered the bunker although he ordered its construction.

The magazine on the desk is the January 12, 1962 edition of Life, with a cover story entitled The Drive for Mass Shelters. Earlier, the September 1961 issue published a letter from President Kennedy advising Americans to build fallout shelters for their families.

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. None of the occupants were allowed to bring family members with them. Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.

The Diefenbunker is now Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information please visit www.diefenbunker.ca

flagship bunker shelters 535 souls

Corridor, Level 400, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

In this photograph of the Diefenbunker, two black and white support columns are visible on the left hand side of the corridor. These columns are four feet in diameter, and there are 36 of them supporting the four-story bunker. In order to withstand the pressure caused by a nuclear blast, the columns flare out to 10 feet at the top and bottom of the structure.

The Diefenbunker measures 157 feet along each side, and it is approximately 57 feet high. The floor slabs are almost two feet thick, while the base and roof slabs are five feet. The walls are generally two and a half feet thick, but at the front of the bunker they measure up to four feet.

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to Canada’s flagship bunker in Carp. It contained over 300 rooms and was designed to shelter 535 individuals. None of the occupants were allowed to bring family members with them.

Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. This massive underground complex contained office spaces, sleeping quarters, broadcasting facilities, decontamination chambers, and a weather station to monitor wind patterns and take radioactive readings. Other rooms, including the kitchens, bathrooms, food and waste storage, hospital and morgue, were dedicated to simple human survival.

The Diefenbunker is now Canada’s Cold War Museum. For more information please visit www.diefenbunker.ca