America's Film History Is Stored In a Cold War Bunker
1 of 5
The U.S. Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is home to more than 160 million books, recordings, photos, manuscripts, and other important pieces of American cultural history. But not everything is kept within those walls. 75 miles to the southwest near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, a 415,000 square-foot (38,555 square-meter) facility that houses 140,000 reels of film. Those reels include classics such as Casablanca, flops such as Gigli, and even nitrate film—an old medium that's kept in its own vaults because it's highly flammable. In fact, all of the center's 6.3 million collection items are well protected, since the Packard Campus was once a nuclear bunker.
The Infamous Rudolf Abel Was The Most Successful Soviet Spy In History
2 of 5
Rudolf Abel was a notorious spy during the Cold War, arguably the most successful Soviet spy of all time. But he wasn't born in the Soviet Union, nor was his real name Rudolf Abel. He was born Vilyam Fisher in 1903 in England. In 1921, Fisher and his family moved back to Russia. He joined the Soviet service for espionage in 1927, by which point he was a nuclear physicist. The KGB sent him to the U.S. in 1948 to serve as a spy, and, by the 1950s, Fisher was tasked with getting information on the U.S. nuclear program. During this time, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage, so Fisher had to live extremely carefully, taking on hundreds of aliases -- including that of Rudolf Abel -- and staging elaborate scenarios to cover up his work. For example, Abel had to live a convincing life as a fine art photographer in New York City, all the while tapping into military intelligence and secretly sending his findings back to Russia. When he was eventually arrested in 1957, he was tried and convicted under the name Rudolf Abel. in 2015, his incredible life served as the inspiration for the Steven Spielberg film, "Bridge of Spies." We've collected some awesome videos on this topic to give you his whole amazing story. Watch them now to learn more.
from IT'S HISTORY
Key Facts to Know
In 1927, the notorious Rudolf Abel and then-nuclear physicist joined in the service of Soviet espionage. 1:30
Famous Soviet spy Rudolf Abel managed to evade the FBI after his assistant betrayed him by giving information about his whereabouts. 4:06
How A Soviet Officer Broke The Rules To Save The World
3 of 5
Stanislav Petrov was the lieutenant-colonel in charge of the Soviet Union's early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow. And just after midnight on September 26, 1983, he made a decision that saved the world. The radar was showing a single incoming missile from the United States. But the real question: Was the missile real, or was it a computer error? Sirens were sounding in the bunkers, and giant red letters appeared on the screens saying "start." The signals were telling Petrov and his crew that four more missiles had been launched. But Petrov considered the logic behind a move like that... and it didn't add up. He decided not to tell his superiors (which broke Soviet military rules) of the missiles, and was proved right because there were no missiles.
Key Facts to Know
Stanislov Petrov was the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Soviet Union’s early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow. 0:39
Stanislov Petrov had only 30 minutes to respond to four potentially incoming missiles from the U.S. in 1983. 1:21
Stanislav Petrov broke Soviet military rules in 1983 to make a decision that saved the world. 1:57
Modern Art Was A CIA Weapon In The Cold War
4 of 5
In the 1950s and '60s, modern art from the likes of Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko were not yet too popular-but it was about to be. During the Cold War, the CIA secretly created foundations that would display abstract expressionist art from artists like Jackson Pollack, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko in global exhibitions. The artists had no idea the US government was behind this act, an act that perhaps would be the thing to propel these artists to fame. The US thought this work waged "psychological warfare" on the Soviet Union, and that is represented the United States as the haven for cultural freedom and freedom of expression.
Who Was The Berlin Candy Bomber Of 1948?
5 of 5
The Berlin Blockade lasted from 1948 to 1949, and was one of the first international crises of the Cold War. During this time, the Soviet Union blocked access to West Germany, but air forces from many countries including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa made over 200,000 flights to the region to provide West Berliners with necessities like fuel and food. During this time, an American pilot named Gail "Hal" Halvorsen gave a group of 30 West Berlin children two sticks of gum. The children graciously and respectfully shared between them all. Halvorsen decided to them drop candy from his plane specifically for these grateful and generous kids. To indicate to the kids that the candy plane was coming, Halvorsen (nicknamed the Candy Bomber and Uncle Wiggly Wings) would wiggle the wings of his plane before dropping the candy on tiny parachutes to the children.