This Week in History
Digging in for Survival
For the week of Monday October 19, 1998
On October 22, 1962, the world held its breath under a threat of nuclear war. The Soviet Union had installed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, and the United States demanded that they be removed. By October 28, the Soviet Union publicly agreed to remove its missiles, while the United States secretly agreed to remove similar missiles from Turkey. Gradually, life returned to normal.
The four-storey buried structure can withstand the effects of a nearby nuclear explosion. The bunker is entered through a long tunnel, open at both ends to allow a blast to pass through. The actual entrance runs off this tunnel at a 90 degree angle. A five-foot layer of gravel surrounds the bunker, allowing it to absorb the shock of an explosion and move four feet in any direction without significant damage! Generators and other mechanical equipment were mounted on springs so that in an explosion, they would move with the building.
The Diefenbunker never housed government officials in its 33 years as a major Canadian Armed Forces communication centre, not even during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As the Cold War drew to an end in the late 1980s, fear of nuclear attack subsided, and in 1994, the Diefenbunker was decommissioned. In the same year it was designated a national historic site as "the most important surviving Cold War site in Canada." Today, the Diefenbunker is open to the public for tours.
For more information, visit the Diefenbunker Web site.
- Date Modified: