The second red scare
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The Second Red Scare. PowerPoint by Mr. Hataway Created January 28, 2012. Today, I will learn How American society reflected the fears of the nuclear age. I will learn it by Listening to lecture and taking Cornell Notes I have learned it when I can

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The second red scare

The Second Red Scare

PowerPoint by Mr. Hataway

Created January 28, 2012

  • Today, I will learn

    • How American society reflected the fears of the nuclear age.

  • I will learn it by

    • Listening to lecture and taking Cornell Notes

  • I have learned it when I can

    • Write a brief essay describing life after leaving a bomb shelter following a nuclear attack by Russia or China.

Essential question
Essential Question

  • How were Cold War tensions intensified?

Soviet bomb
Soviet Bomb

  • Communism and the atom bomb dominated life for Americans and their leaders in the 1950s.

Soviet bomb1
Soviet Bomb

  • September 1949, Pres. Truman announced that, “We have evidence that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR.”

  • Soviet’s create their first atomic bomb.

Soviet bomb2
Soviet Bomb

  • Successful Soviet development of a nuclear bomb created widespread fear of a “sneak” attack by the Soviets.

  • The Civil Defense Administration (CDA) was set up to oversee warning, evacuation, and communications systems.

  • Thousands of Americans built backyard bomb shelters, while schoolchildren learned to “duck and cover.”

Soviet bomb3
Soviet Bomb

  • Fear of nuclear attack forced Americans to prepare for a surprise attack.

    • Some families built fallout shelters in their backyards.

    • For every person killed instantly from a nuclear blast, four more would die later from fallout.

Soviet bomb4
Soviet Bomb

  • The U.S. reestablished itself as the world’s leading nuclear power with the detonation of a hydrogen, or thermonuclear, bomb in November 1952.

Cold war at home
Cold War at Home

  • At the height of WWII, about 80,000 Americans claimed membership in the Communist Party.

  • Some feared that the first loyalty of these American Communists was to the Soviet Union.

  • Overall, Americans feared communist ideology, a world revolution and Soviet expansion.

Anti-Soviet Cartoon

Cold war at home1
Cold War at Home

  • In March of 1947, President Truman set up the Loyalty Review Board

  • The board was created to investigate federal employees and dismiss those disloyal to the U.S.

  • The U.S. Attorney General also drew up a list of 91 “subversive” organizations – membership in any of these was ground for suspicion

House un american activities committee
House Un-American Activities Committee

  • The HUAC was a government body which first made headlines in 1947 when it began investigating communist influence in the movie industry

  • The committee believed that Communists were sneaking propaganda into films

  • The HUAC subpoenaed witnesses from Hollywood to discuss their involvement

“Are you now or have you ever been. . . .”

Hollywood ten
Hollywood Ten

  • Ten witnesses refused to cooperate because they believed the proceedings were unconstitutional – they were jailed

  • Subsequently, the committee blacklisted 500 actors, directors, writers and producers whom they believed had communist connections

“Hollywood Ten” (And two lawyers)

Spies in america
Spies in America

  • Two spy cases added to the fear gripping the nation

  • Alger Hiss was accused of being a spy for the Soviets

  • A young Republican congressman named Richard Nixon gained fame by tirelessly prosecuting Hiss

  • Hiss was found guilty and jailed – less than four years later Nixon was VP

Nixon inspects examines microfilm Hiss case

Alger Hiss

Spies in america1
Spies in America

  • The Rosenberg spy case

  • The Rosenbergs were accused of providing information to Soviets which enabled them to produce an atomic bomb in 1949

  • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were found guilty and executed 1953

The Rosenbergs were the first U.S. citizens executed for espionage


  • McCarthyism – term coined by political cartoonist Herbert Block in a 1950s cartoon in reference to Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, Wisconsin, 1947-1957)


  • The most famous anti-Communist activist was Senator Joseph McCarthy.

  • In 1950, McCarthy announced made unsupported claims that 205 members of the State Department were Communists.

  • He worked to identify known communists and accused other based on association.


  • Finally, in 1954 McCarthy went too far, accusing high ranking Army officers of being Communists.

  • In the televised proceedings McCarthy’s bullying of witnesses alienated the national audience.

  • Three years later he died of alcoholism at age 49.

McCarthy chaired the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 1953-1954.

Project Venona

  • Project Venona

    • Secret join project between the intelligence agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom.

    • In 1946, cryptographers cracked the Soviet spy code, allowing them to read messages between Moscow and the Soviet Embassy.

    • Did not become public knowledge until 1995.

    • It provide strong evidence against the Rosenbergs.

Discussion Question

  • Why did the hunt for Communist spies increase with the Soviet Union’s production of the atomic bomb?

    • Many believed that the Soviet Union could not have produced the atomic bomb without help.

    • The belief was that American Communists must have sold secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviets.

Images of the Cold War

  • Images of the Cold War appeared in films and popular fiction.

  • Along with these fears, the country enjoyed postwar prosperity and optimism.

Images of the Cold War

Ah, the Fifties. A time of innocence (no swearing in movies, but everybody smoked!), yet also a time of conformity, the height of the Cold War, an inherent distrust of intellectuals, fear of nuclear annihilation and Communism! What’s not to like?

  • 1950

    • When Worlds Collide

    • The Day the Earth Stood Still

    • The Thing

  • 1951

    • The War of the Worlds

  • 1954

    • Them!

  • 1955

    • This Island Earth

  • 1956

    • Forbidden Planet

    • Invasion of the Body Snatchers

  • 1957

    • The Incredible Shrinking Man

  • 1959

    • On the Beach

Discussion question
Discussion Question

  • What two events heightened American concerns about the Cold War?

    • Soviet Union successful test of an atomic bomb.

    • Communist forces taking control of China.