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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; U.S. Defies East German Border Guards

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Served with an order by East German authorities that all U.S. personnel must show identification before entering that sector of Berlin, American troops answer with the only language the Reds seem to understand - a show of arms. American soldiers escort civilian cars across the border under heavy guard and defy the East Germans to demand identification cards. Meanwhile, the U.S. Berlin Garrison holds elaborate maneuvers in the shadow of the wall erected two months ago. It's a morale booster for the citizens of West Berlin.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
At the Brink
Program Number



U.S. Defies East German Border Guards

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

In October 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States are at the brink of nuclear war, the 13 most harrowing days in the nuclear age.

“I remember leaving the White House at the end of that Saturday and thinking that might well be the last sunset I ever saw,” recalls former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of Black Saturday, the day the Cuban missile crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. Aleksandr Alexseev, Soviet ambassador to Cuba at the time, recalled, “We and the Cubans decided that, in order to avoid a United States invasion, we should supply Cuba with missiles.” The US effort to overthrow Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs was an expression of President Kennedy’s disbelief about the missiles in Cuba while it surprised Soviet leader Khrushchev according to his speechwriter,Feodor Burlatsky. Major General William Fairborne, speaks about how “We loaded whole blood and a hundred coffins onto the carrier Iwo Jima.” Looking back on those 13 days, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk reflects, “...we’ve got to find some way to inhabit this speck of dust in the universe at the same time.”



Asset Type

Stock footage

Media Type


Germany (West)
Soviet Union
Germany (East)
United States
Berlin, Germany
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Rights Summary

In perpetuity ; Public Domain Rights Holder: NARA

Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; U.S. Defies East German Border Guards,” 10/26/1961, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 27, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8ADBD2EFFDA148009F02B277D4A30F6C.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; U.S. Defies East German Border Guards.” 10/26/1961. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 27, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8ADBD2EFFDA148009F02B277D4A30F6C>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; U.S. Defies East German Border Guards. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8ADBD2EFFDA148009F02B277D4A30F6C
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