Conspiracy

A spherical bunker in Russia was the most secure place in the entire Cold War

The Dead Hand system was the Soviet Union’s last line of deterrence in the event of a crippling nuclear strike, a way to inflict millions of casualties on its enemies even if the Soviet chain of command were decapitated.

The system was set up in 1985, not long after the most serious war scare of the late Cold War period. It’s been likened to a real-life doomsday machine, and it isn’t decisively known if the Kremlin’s dismantled it.

David Hoffman, a Washington Post contributing editor and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Cold War nuclear arms race, recently described the mechanics of the Dead Hand system on arms control scholar Jeffrey Lewis’s podcast. The Dead Hand or “perimeter,” which Hoffman characterized as a “system of guaranteed retaliation,” had a critical human safeguard, bunkered in an incredibly strange underground chamber.

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