Atomic Attack: “Let’s Face It” ~ 1954 Federal Civil Defense Administration

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Atomic Attack: "Let's Face It" ~ 1954 Federal Civil Defense Administration



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‘Civil Defense, based on the assumption that a nuclear attack from the former Soviet Union was imminent, ranked high on the list of U.S. priorities in the 1960s. The Federal Civil Defense Administration was in charge of this Cold War activity. A key point emphasized in the video is that for citizens to survive a nuclear attack, they must be prepared. This meant they must know the locations of approved Civil Defense shelters or have their own shelter at their home, or both.
In the opening scenes, an Air Raid Warden is blowing his whistle while air raid sirens are blaring, and citizens are heading toward the shelters. The narrator extols citizens to prepare a fallout shelter with adequate food and emergency supplies. He warns that the usual emergency services such as fire, police and hospitals may not be available after a nuclear attack. He also urges citizens to know the sanctioned evacuation routes from potentially targeted cities. Citizens were expected to evacuate in an orderly manner, free from panic and driving mishaps.

The video shows that many nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) to gain data that would help in Civil Defense preparedness. As part of Operation Cue, the video depicts many unidentified atmospheric tests fired to learn potential effects of detonations on citizens and cities and to test the effectiveness of Civil Defense organizations.

At the NTS, entire cities or “doomtowns,” including houses containing furniture, appliances, food, and mannequins representing people, were built. Utility stations and automobiles were also located in the town. The houses were constructed with various exteriors. Inside each house was an array of instruments to gather the pertinent data on blast, heat and radiation effects. The majority of the houses were destroyed by the blasts. Industrial-type buildings and transportation structures, such as railways, bridges and freeways were also subjected to nuclear blasts.

The video shows military troops participating in Camp Desert Rock Exercises and witnessing the power and fury of an atomic blast. The underlying message given is that if citizens remain calm and “face it,” they can survive the bomb.’

Narrated by Reed Hadley

Originally a public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
Wikipedia license:

United States civil defense refers to the use of civil defense in the history of the United States, which is the organized non-military effort to prepare Americans for military attack. Late in the 20th century, the term and practice of civil defense fell into disuse. Emergency management and homeland security replaced them…

The new dimensions of nuclear war terrified the world and the American people. The sheer power of nuclear weapons and the perceived likelihood of such an attack on the United States precipitated a greater response than had yet been required of civil defense. Civil defense, something previously considered an important and common-sense step, also became divisive and controversial in the charged atmosphere of the Cold War. In 1950, the National Security Resources Board created a 162-page document outlining a model civil defense structure for the US. Called the “Blue Book” by civil defense professionals in reference to its solid blue cover, it was the template for legislation and organization that occurred over the next 40 years. Despite a general agreement on the importance of civil defense, Congress never came close to meeting the budget requests of federal civil defense agencies. Throughout the Cold War, civil defense was characterized by fits and starts. Indeed, the responsibilities were passed through a myriad of agencies, and specific programs were often boosted and scrapped in a similar manner to US ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems with which it was seen as complementary.

In declassified US war game analyses of the late 1950–60s, it was estimated that approximately 27 million US citizens would have been saved with civil defense education in the event of a Soviet pre-emptive strike. At the time however the cost of a full-scale civil defense program was, in cost-benefit analysis, deemed less effective than a BMD system, and as the adversary was increasing their nuclear stockpile, both programs would yield diminishing returns…

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