Friday, October 12, 2012


How do you say shalom in Japanese?

There are lots of iconic photos from the Cold War. I think of Kruschev's "We will bury you!" pose, the angry face, the clenched fist in the air. Whoa.

Of course there are thousands, maybe even millions of pictures of the Berlin Wall, though perhaps the most well known icons of that era are fictional, like James Bond. All those spy movies from the 1950s and 1960s - they were all about the Cold War.

Ellen reminded me that along with learning to duck and cover, we were afraid of mutants, the result of nuclear fallout. Everyone's favorite mutant, Godzilla, is a powerful and enduring icon of the Cold War.

I loved the Godzilla movies. I've seen a lot of them, mostly during the 1970s, almost always when stoned. The first Godzilla movies are meant to be terrifying, as is right and proper. Oh what we did to Japan, oh man. We were ready to do anything to end the war, but who knew it would be as bad as it turned out to be? Who could have imagined?

It's interesting that as time went on, Godzilla became less terrifying, almost cute in some of the films. Godzilla even became a hero, fighting for Japan against other mutants, in a few of the later movies. I don't know what to think about that!

As I remember it, in the U.S. as the years passed, the post-WWII paranoia faded. I didn't think a lot about the Soviets or the Chinese, I didn't worry about nuclear annihilation after about the age of 7 or 8. We had enough to contend with here in America, what with the assassination of a president, his brother, and the great Martin Luther King, Jr. When the sixties arrived, we were watching the Vietnam War on television, also the marches for Civil Rights and we were reading about what we called "women's liberation."

The Cold War ended, for me, somewhere around 1965, which is one reason it was such a shock in 1979 to visit Berlin, to see how real it still was. One of Reagan's legacies is the end of the Cold War. By then it was ancient history for me.

It's interesting to think about.


Pam said...

My daughter and partner live and work in Berlin at the moment and husband and I visited there 6 months ago. It's not somewhere I would have gone had she not lived there, preferring perhaps Iceland, Finland, Denmark,or Canada, where I've not been before. So pleased I went though - researched everything thoroughly before we went which made the trip more memorable and poignant, and vibrant in today's setting too! Nothing could have prepared me however, for photographs of all who had died trying to cross no-man's land surrounding the Berlin Wall, and the history and stories of these people. If only they had lived out their desperation to enjoy the Berlin of today.
It is taking my daughter some time to "find the right fit" with Germany - she has more of a celtic nature intertwined with her Aussie culture and spirit!

Reya Mellicker said...

How fascinating. Did you take pictures? I would love to see some.

Steve Reed said...

It's interesting that the Cold War ended for you in 1965, because I think of the Cold War as a very prominent part of my own childhood. (I was born in '66.) Maybe you were just used to it in later years? I didn't "duck and cover" in school, but I grew up with a constant fear of nuclear holocaust -- in fact, with an almost certainty that it would happen within my lifetime -- and with all the spy novels and cultural baggage of the U.S. vs. Russia.

I loved those Japanese monster movies from the '50s and '60s. My favorite was the one where all the monsters come together for their own epic battle -- "Destroy All Monsters." Fab!

Tom said...

i guess you had the feeling everything was gonna be alright...
Aw, isn't 'zilla a cutie-pie? Of course the biggest budget, Americanized, Godzilla movie was the worst of the bunch; go figure