Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis/October, 1962: The Man Who Saved the World

(above Soviet Navy Brigade Commander Vasili Arkhipov and his wife in 1962.  Although never given recognition from the Russian government in his lifetime, Commander Arkhipov made a fateful decision on October 27th, 1962 that saved the world free from a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

One of the more chilling documentaries I've seen this year is called "The Man Who Saved the World", a PBS documentary on the series "Secrets of the Dead.While most documentaries, films, and books on the Cuban Missile Crisis cover the desperate back-and-forth negotiations between President Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro and their respective advisers, this film recreates the situation on board a Russian diesel sub in the Atlantic where three Russian naval officers (submariners) had their boat surrounded by a US Naval blockade, called a "quarantine" by the Kennedy Administration.

 The senior officers on the ship had to choose between surfacing the submarine, which would have meant rendering them in a state of unconditional surrender to the Americans or using the "special weapon" on board the submarine--a nuclear torpedo.   Time was running out--the temps inside the sub were beyond 110 degrees and the crew were being bombarded by ships and planes from the US Atlantic fleet with mega-loud sonar audio attack and non-damaging but unsettling depth charges.

 It was October 27, 1962. The world was on the verge of a man-made holocaust. Even if you remember or have read about this chapter in Cold War history, this is still one of the most harrowing chapters of the events, and, to me, why the world will never be safe until all powers destroy their nuclear stockpiles.More on the program and a link to the documentary itself here:



  1. Yep Doug, I was 9 at the time and that crisis impacted me to this day.

  2. I'll bet it did, Da Seuss--for everybody who could fathom what was happening. I was just two myself, and it's impact for me naturally came later. The more I read and hear about these 13 days in October, the more dramatic and incredible those days become.

  3. I was 11 and understood that what ever it was, was very serious, but didn't quite understand exactly WHAT it was. When I did read the reports, and realised what had happened, wow, that was scary.
    And changing the subject slightly, a work colleague has just returned from a holiday in Cuba. He loved it, he said its like stepping back into the 1950's with big old cars and clean streets. The children are polite, clean, fit, healthy, very well educated and love school. The adults are some of the friendliest people he has ever met. He felt more safe there than any where he has traveled to in Europe or America, and he never felt the need to lock his hotel door or leave someone guarding the wallet or phone if he went for a swim or to the bathroom.
    BUT...........and as far as he is concerned this is the best bit, there is NOTHING from America there. No American Express accepted anywhere, the mighty American dollar is worthless, no MacDonald's, no KFC, no Wallmart or any of its overseas subsidiaries, in fact... absolutely NOTHING American. It must seem like another world.

  4. Yes, scary it must have been. Just seeing this documentary gave me a taste of how much fear there was when it was happening, more so than any other film or chapters on the subject I've ever read.

    Interesting about your colleagues trip to Cuba. Certainly there is a lot of good things about th Cuban experience or it would have likely crashed and burned after the fall of Soviet-style communism elsewhere

    Some times not having any crime in a major city is a good thing, and other times as in Germany or Russia in times past it might be a sign of a ruthless police and judicial system. But most of the reports I've read about Cuba have been positive for travelers.