Friday, December 11, 2015

The Cold War And The Wall

The Cold War section of the War Museum takes in a lot, starting with its origins and the Korean War, moving into the decades long standoff between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and all that involved, as well as examining the concept of troops as peacekeepers. I've photographed extensively there in a previous series from the War Museum, and these shots are from a part of the exhibit dating back to the 1980s, featuring Canadian uniforms and a model of a navy ship.

The editorial cartoon here caught my eye- it is by a BC cartoonist, Adrian Raeside, who is still around today (he also does the comic strip The Other Coast if it runs in your area).

While this is a look at the opposition- automatic weapons and a T-72 tank, typical of the Warsaw Pact arsenal in the 80s.

There is something very fitting to end the Cold War section of the Museum: a section of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, the Canadian government hosted a summit of foreign leaders here in Ottawa, from the United States, the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, for the purposes of working out the framework for reunification of Germany after the dramatic events of 1989 and the fall of the Wall. This section of the Wall was given as thanks. The West Berlin side features graffiti- the Brandenburg Gate, the Alexanderplatz TV tower, and the Berlin radio tower can be seen on its surface. The side of the Wall that faced East Berlin had no such graffiti, of course. I also photographed the width of the block, and liked the texture of the surface. It`s not as wide as you imagine.

The nearby panel references the story of the Berlin Wall. The exuberance of this photograph, in those momentous days of 1989, really stands out to me. 


  1. what a time it was....

    Warm ALOHA,


  2. I agree with Cloudia, and even more how long the world has been fighting one war or another. The Great War, WW11, the Vietnam War and it goes on, and now the war against terrorism.. it really is never going to end peacefully which is a sad realisation.

  3. From what we are reading and hearing on the news, looks like war is never ending and we can't imagine what war will be like in the future.

  4. Having had fist had experience of the Iron curtain and Berlin wall I can tell you it was very scary seeing if for the first time. It also brought it home when I visited a command bunker in Scotland, that made it even more scary as to what could have happened. The museums now show a little taste and I think that is enough.

  5. Military Uniforms always make people look dignified.

  6. Canada's military uniforms are quite similar to ours in the US.

  7. Ot was a very exciting time when the wall was torn down! I just wish we humans could learn from our mistakes.

  8. how neat to see an actual piece of the wall...crazy times huh?! not that things are any better today though really :(

  9. Nice tour again, William. That part of the Berlin Wall reminds me of my visit to Berlin at the end of the seventies. It was quite creepy to cross the iron curtain with those heavily armed border patrols.

  10. Interesting post, William !
    Like the uniforms.

  11. I have a friend (former student) who was there when the wall went down. He has a piece of the wall. It was a highlight of his life. 26 years ago? It seems like yesterday.

  12. Nice set of photos from the museum. I like the section of the Berlin Wall. I've seen other sections at the Newseum in Washington DC.

  13. I get this history lesson every day! But I like to see how the Wall and the divided times are presented in other places.

  14. Easy to forgot these times, they seem a long while ago...

  15. @Cloudia: it was a heady time.

    @Grace: it might not.

    @Nancy: the methods will be the only real change.

    @Bill: I shall have a look.

    @Janis: that's true.

    @Norma: they're good designs.

    @EG: humanity seems to rarely learn.

    @Tanya: it used to stand in the Government Conference Centre, where no doubt the summit was held. It fits here nicely.

    @Jan: I was old enough to have memories of my parents occasionally offering up prayers for those behind the Iron Curtain, and I remember those few months in Europe very well from watching the news.

  16. @Luis: you're welcome.

    @Karl: thank you!

    @Red: it was a seismic shift in history, and still feels that way.

    @Sharon: imagine there's a whole generation of kids who have grown up without the presence of the Berlin Wall- that's what struck me as I looked at it this time out.

    @Halcyon: it's a good artifact to have on hand.

    @VP: and sometimes they feel so much more recent.

    @Linda: so do I.

    @Ciel: I think much of those days in November of 1989 showed humanity at its best. It could have gone the other way.

  17. Another interesting post about the museum. I am always interested in the old uniforms.

  18. Fascinating post William, I toured a big cold was bunker a couple of years ago truly scary stuff...

  19. That last photo is one of the reasons I try to carry my camera with me every time I set out on foot to somewhere.

  20. The more they talk about Peace, the more the wars continue. I knew one lady in Phoenix that went over that Wall. She was lucky. Either the guard was a bad shot or didn't want to shoot a woman.

  21. I remember how exciting it was when that wall came down!

  22. That piece of wall is especially appropriate for the museum. You would think it would be thicker, wouldn't you? But if you've got armed guards watching I suppose it could be paper thin.

  23. @Denise: me too.

    @Geoff: there's a Cold War bunker here that's been made into a museum. I really must get out there sometime and photograph it.

    @Revrunner: It's a defining photograph.

    @Mari: I would think the latter.

    @Linda: it really was.

    @Kay: I know... I'd assumed as a child that the Wall was incredibly thick.

    @Jackie: you should!

  24. Those were not fun days. I remember practicing ducking under our chairs in school to be ready for a nuclear attack! And there was constant tension. I was in the Naval Reserve in 1961 when I got word to be ready to back on active duty as the Cuba situation was about to blow up! Aargh!

  25. I'll take a cold war over a heated one anyday. Hope the one in Syria ends soon . WAR isn't the will of the commoners. Nice pics, Sir Wills.

  26. Intriguing series of photos. I imagine the neutral toned uniform would have been worn on very special occasions. Otherwise it would easily be a blemish and dirt collector.