History, Culture and Memory
Edited By Katia Pizzi and Marjatta Hietala
Introduction. Cold War Cities: History, Culture and Memory
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KATIA PIZZI AND MARJATTA HIETALA
Introduction Cold War Cities: History, Culture and Memory
As we began to put this collection together, a fourteen-metre-high V2 (Vergeltungs-Waffe 2) rocket carrying a one-ton warhead was exhibited in the atrium of the Imperial War Museum in London. The rocket had weighed heavily on the murky London sky in September 1944, silently bent on striking the city. Despite its low efficacy when compared with heavier bombers, the V2 swiftly acquired symbolic status and came to embody the visceral response elicited by modern warfare, a tangible testament to the trauma encapsulated in dehumanizing technological conflict.1
The symbolic legacy of the V2 rocket was reignited in the Cold War years, congealing in the so-called Space Race. The decades of the 1950s and 1960s witnessed rapid developments in rocket science, especially in the Soviet Union. Deployed to deliver nuclear weapons safely and swiftly to destination, impossible for defence systems to stop once launched, from then on the rocket became a staple of military operations. The cultural capital of the rocket grew further as military, atomic and space-age technologies joined hands, inspiring awe on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Much like the tank in the First World War, the rocket became familiar to millions of TV watchers worldwide. Its skyward thrust symbolized political posturing and, at the same time, ancestral fears, encoding and transcending the technological prowess, the force and vulnerability of the Cold War. Urban communities in both...
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