GBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Jurgen Todenhofer, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Jurgen Todenhofer was a West German politician, a member of the Christian Democratic Union, who served in Parliament from 1972-1990 and for a time as party spokesman for arms control. In the interview he discusses American-Soviet nuclear disarmament negotiations, and their effects on Germany. He describes the Reykjavik Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev and the proposal of a zero solution. He also discusses the proposal of a double zero solution, which would remove both strategic and shorter-range missiles. He does not think that these solutions are in the best interest of Germany, as they leave the country vulnerable to an attack by the Warsaw Pact's superior conventional forces, with no nuclear deterrent. He criticizes the Reagan administration for being unprepared for Reykjavik, and makes clear his view that the U.S., British and French governments let Germany down with respect to the double zero solution, and that the Americans do not fundamentally care about German interests. He argues that disarmament should not just be concerned with nuclear, but also with conventional weapons.

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
Program Number



Interview with Jurgen Todenhofer, 1986

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

President Reagan and Soviet Secretary Gorbachev sign the INF Agreement to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons from Europe. No one had expected the European Missile Crisis to end this way.

The story begins in 1979, when the Western Allies were worried about the Soviet Union’s buildup of SS-20 nuclear missiles aimed at Western Europe. Under pressure from the Carter Administration, NATO issued a threat, if the SS-20s were not removed, NATO would install new American missiles in Europe. The threat revived the dormant anti-nuclear movement in Western Europe, giving them an anti-American tone. In 1981, President Reagan made a proposal that the US would cancel deployment of the missiles if the Soviet Union would dismantle all the intermediate range missiles it had pointed at Europe. This was the “zero-zero” option. The Soviet Union was entering a period of change with three leaders dying in three years. In 1986 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev offered to accept the “zero-zero” option and in 1987 the INF agreement was signed.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear weapons
Kohl, Helmut, 1930-
Military weapons
Reagan, Ronald
Pershing (Missile)
Soviet Union
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Shultz, George Pratt, 1920-
International relations
Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik
United States
Warsaw Treaty Organization
Intermediate-range ballistic missiles
Great Britain
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Todenhofer, Jurgen, 1940- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Jurgen Todenhofer, 1986,” 12/16/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Jurgen Todenhofer, 1986.” 12/16/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Jurgen Todenhofer, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.