November Object of the Month Blog
November is an eventful month in Peace history; it is on the 20th November 1962 that the Cuban Missile crisis concluded as President John F. Kennedy announced he had lifted the U.S naval blockade of Cuba stating that “the evidence to date indicates that all known offensive missile sites in Cuba have been dismantled.” It was also the month that the Berlin wall was opened up on the 9th November 1989, after standing for 28 years as a symbol of the Cold War. The following year on the 19th – 20th November 1990, the Cold War came to an end during a summit in Paris as leaders of NATO and the Warsaw Pact signed a Treaty on Conventional forces in Europe, vastly reducing their military arsenals. We have many items in our newly set up ‘Responses to Conflict’ exhibit relating to the Cold war including this month’s object of the month. The object is a badge from the 1980s with the words “Don’t register for WWIII the War without winners” written on it. This badge is interesting because it shows the level of fear that people had during the Cold War era. Of course WWIII has never occurred but with heightened tensions between the USA and the USSR, many believed another World War would soon break out, with both sides having the power to release mass nuclear devastation.
We also have a card produced in 1998 by Yorkshire CND entitled “Now the Cold War is over, we can all relax”. Making the point that although the Cold War is over, nuclear weapon proliferation is still a major problem in the world today and therefore posing the question “are we really any safer now than we were then?” Is a third World War still possible? Can we ever all relax while nuclear weapons still exist? This is perhaps ever more relevant in the context of the increasingly military response to terrorist groups in the Middle East by Western countries. The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc (the United States, its NATO allies and others) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact). Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but 1947–91 is common. The term “cold” is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, although there were major regional wars, known as proxy wars, in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan supported by the two sides. We also have a large collection of objects relating to these wars in our new Responses to Conflict exhibit which is now open to the public.
By Sarah Bartey