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Declassified Bunker of the USSR (englishrussia.com)
234 points by VeXocide on Nov 19, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments

I love this line: "Now a museum of cold war is organized in the bunker where one can try on respirators, protective gear, hold different guns, etc."

You know, the usual sort of museum experience.

As interesting as this is, it's also tragic if you think about the vast resources humankind has spent on building terrible weapons and defenses against those weapons. Imagine how much farther we would be ahead as a society if what was spent on the cold war was spent on solving the world's real problems instead - climate change, poverty, hunger, and so on.

Even more tragic is that this expenditure continues, particularly by the United States, even though the cold war is over. Those of us who thought the end of the cold war meant we could move on from spending trillions on weapons were obviously rather naive.

I would quote from Eisenhower's Military-Industrial Complex Speech, but it should really be read in its entirety:


I felt like this warranted more than just an upvote. I think this should be required high school reading.

Arguably the nuclear weapons have prevented continuation of WW2, where USSR and US would duke it out in the 50's and 60's.

Just wanted to point out that world of geopolitics and strategy is way more nuanced than an average person believes.

"nuclear weapons have prevented continuation of WW2"

I would tend to agree with that. However, the levels of weaponry that were deployed were arguably far higher than was actually required to achieve effective mutual deterrence - by a huge factor. If you actually read the details of what would have happened if the Cuban Missile Crisis or Able Archer 83 had ended as shooting wars then prepare to have your blood run cold and we did get very close to indeed to shooting wars - particularly in the case of Cuba.

Somewhat ironically, given that I am British, a child of the 70s/80s and not a Conservative, one of the actual heroes of the Cold War was actually Reagan - not for his "Evil Empire" rhetoric but because he actually had the decency to believe that your average Soviet citizen was just as decent as your average America, Brit or German. He was, by all accounts, so shocked when he heared intelligence reports of how terrified the Soviet leadership were of a possible NATO first strike that he deciced to open up a dialogue with the Soviets. For most of the Cold War it was the Soviets who were afraid of NATO - perhaps justifiably so as I am not aware of any military leaders in the Warsaw Pact who actively tried to start a nuclear war, which is not something we can say about the West.

The BBC drama "Threads" still scares me 25+ years after I first saw it:


One thing to note about this drama, where over 90% of the UK population are eventually killed, is that it is based on an official exercise called Square Leg that was generally regarded as being rather optimistic, a real attack by the Soviets would probably have been far worse:


The Soviets had pledged not to be the first side to use nukes. The US did not reciprocate, because the Warsaw Pact could have overwhelmed NATO forces in Europe with their conventional forces (or so everyone thought), so the US wanted to reserve the ability to use nukes in a counterattack.

> the levels of weaponry that were deployed were arguably far higher than was actually required to achieve effective mutual deterrence

Hindsight is always perfect. You build a larger than required stockpile of weapons because you don't know if the other side will be able to shot your weapons down.

> one of the actual heroes of the Cold War was actually Reagan

The Soviet Union was already crumbling due to the financial pressure required to maintain their deterrence. The dialog that was started at that time prevented a very dangerous situation that could result in a nuclear strike by either side.

IIRC, the Soviet Union didn't test their first bomb until 1949, well after the war ended. Are you suggesting that the Soviets stopped their advance because of the American bomb?

Edit: Oh, I just noticed the bit in your comment about the 1950s/60s. So your contention is that the war might have reignited had there been no atomic bomb?


Stalin's and Communist Party's goal was to "free the world of capitalist oppression", had US not had built a Nuke, Russians would not have stopped at Berlin.

The Russians were hit hard in WW2 but still in 1945 they were in far better position than any other Eurasian state. They would have swept over Europe in a single campaign if they could. And even Americans would be hard pressed at stopping them, without the nuclear weapons since US would be heavily tied in pacific dealing with Japan. And it wouldn't take a strategic genius to fathom an alliance between Japan and USSR, Soviets take the Europe, Japanese take the Asia.

Don't forget that in 1945 Russians were already all over Germany, they took Vienna, Yugoslavia was under their direct influence. Without US and their display of might in Pacific, there would be nothing preventing them from taking the Europe, and Stalin knew it.

That's probably why Soviets kinda kept a low profile for until the 1949.

Thanks for the reply. I always thought the Russians had been lost more people, materiel, etc. than anyone else and were pretty much done in by the end of the war. (I'm not sure where I got that idea, now that I examine it.)

The Russians indeed lost more people and material than anyone else.

The weird fact is that they lost 26 million due to military, but they lost 10 million to their own internal political oppression.

In either case, USSR had 200 million population in June 1941. At the end of 1945 the population was 170 million[1]. So they still had "plenty" of manpower left.

Also material losses were indeed huge, but mostly because complete disregard for safety of personnel and equipment. They could always replenish their losses at faster rate than their enemies (USSR had vast industry and material base), very inefficient but still huge.

For example. Germans built 6500 JU-87 Stuka assault planes[2] during whole war. Soviets have build 43.000 IL-2 Sturmovik assault planes from 1942-1945[3]. Since Germans had air superiority on eastern front, Soviets would just send in Sturmovik's without air cover.

There's an expression here in eastern Europe for overwhelming numbers, in literal translation it would go something as: "There is as many of them as Russians".

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties_of_the_... [2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_Ju_87#Production [3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilyushin_Il-2#Production

> Arguably the nuclear weapons have prevented continuation of WW2

people in Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnan, etc, etc, would disagree.

The next world war would have made all of those minor skirmishes look like, well, minor skirmishes.

I agree with you in one sense, however the huge military expenditure allowed Silicon Valley to emerge.


You could drive yourself mad playing a game of "what if we did things this way instead?"

This seems like a classic broken window fallacy. I don't think you really appreciate how huge the huge is:

> The cost of the Cold War was staggering; for the US the bill was $19.65 trillion (1948-1991) in 2010 dollars, of which $8,731.5 billion (also in 2010 dollars) was expended directly for nuclear arms.[34], [35] Precise data for the dollar cost of the Cold War to the USSR are not available, however it is generally believed that the Soviet Union spent 12-13% of its GDP on military programs in direct support of the Cold War...If Soviet expenditures for the Cold War were indeed on a par with those of the US, then the approximate dollar value for whole endeavor by both sides would be in the range of $40 trillion 2010 US dollars. To put that into perspective, that is also, give or take, the approximate net worth of the United States of America, at current market value, e.g., $50-60 trillion US!


So, to justify spending the entire net worth of the present-day US - with the emergence of Silicon Valley already priced in - you point to Silicon Valley? This is a broken window to end all broken windows.

I think he meant that the emergence of SV was one of fortunate outcomes of the Cold War, not that it justifies Cold War expedentures.

You posted some weird redirection link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo is the actual target

Arguably, silicon valley could have arise in another place or we could have continued on a different technological path.

It would be enough stopping spending trillions of dollars in today's wars.

>You know, the usual sort of museum experience.

The WW2 museum in london is like that as well. It's a lot of fun.

gave us the internet. also employed a lot of people and we didn't get the large-scale war that most thought was due since WW2 was, like WW1, unfinished business.

Non blogspam original link: http://moscow-walks.livejournal.com/918332.html

It's not good when blogspam from englishrussia.com is on the HN frontpage for hours.

Thank you. EnglishRussia is not only a blogspam site but also full of stupid porn links.

englishrussia.com has English text. Better than Russian text for most of us.

It would be nice if they linked to their sources without passing it through what looks like a stumbleupon type service. In this case they link to http://2leep.com/bar.php?url=http://moscow-walks.livejournal... as the source.

Unforunately, EnglishRussia is badly translated and sometimes editorialized. Take the following line, for example: "The narrow corridor is curved so that a shock wave won’t penetrate the inside of the building."

The original Russian is "Только одна из стен - полукруглая. Это неспроста, стена является фрагментом стенки круглой шахты уходящей далеко под землю", which directly translates to "one of the walls is curved, and for a good reason: it's part of the round shaft that descends deep underground". No mention of a shockwave.

There is some comment about the shockwave in photo 4:

4. Узкий коридор входа имеет несколько поворотов, задача которых - погасить ударную волну даже при открытых дверях и недопустить попадания внутрь проникающей радиации. В "доме" всего 1 коридор, вот его план

I don’t know Russian, but with Google translation and a little of hand editing:

4. A narrow corridor the entrance has a few turns, whose main task is to extinguish a shock wave even when the doors are open and disallow the propagation of ionizing radiation.

They probably mix the captions of the photos creatively :).

Complete autotranslation: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&...

i barely saw english on that page.

I spend one summer living in a bunker in Switzerland while I was working for CERN. Despite de absence of windows it was a great experience :D

Some photos of the bunker http://picasaweb.google.com/102604524089774844957/Shelter?fe...

If you want to visit a similar facility in the US, there's one at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia:


The Greenbrier bunker was built in the late 1950s/early 1960s as the emergency relocation point for the U.S. Congress in the event of a nuclear war. Its existence was kept secret until 1992, when a Washington Post story revealed it:


There are other similar facilities from the same era now known to the public, like Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, Mount Weather in Virginia, and Raven Rock ("Site R") in Pennsylvania, but since those all still have some operational role they offer less access to the public than the Greenbrier bunker (which was decommissioned after the Post story) does.

That's amazing. A facility with 1600 employees that needed untold resources to construct is decommissioned as useless because the Washington Post writes an article about it.

They're of course within their rights to do so, but it's sad to think that all the work needed for the facility went to waste and its employees were laid off just because someone wrote an article on it.

It wasn't an unprecedented decision. Mount Weather in Virginia (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Weather_Emergency_Operati...) was an even bigger project designed to house and protect the executive branch, but it was compromised through sheer bad luck when in 1974 a TWA flight happened to crash into it. Reporters came to report on the crash and were surprised to find this huge, massively secure, fenced-off Federal installation in the middle of nowhere.

Mount Weather wasn't shut down after that, but its role as a key relocation point was scaled back considerably. The problem with Mount Weather after 1974 was the same problem as the Greenbrier bunker had after 1992 -- the entire value of a facility like that is dependent on the Soviets not knowing it exists, because hydrogen bombs are so powerful that it's pretty much impossible to build anything that can survive a direct hit. The only way facilities like the Greenbrier, or Mount Weather, or even Cheyenne Mountain could hope to survive in a full-out nuclear war would be if they were secret enough so that the enemy wouldn't target them directly.

Thankfully the prospects of full-out nuclear war aren't as bad as they used to be, so the investment in most of these facilities isn't totally wasted; many government leaders were relocated to Mount Weather on 9/11, for instance, when it wasn't clear if more terrorist attacks were imminent, and Dick Cheney is said to have worked for a time in the days after 9/11 out of Raven Rock. Neither facility would survive a direct hit from an ICBM, but when your enemies don't have ICBMs they're pretty much as secure as you can get.

It's likely that, being 30 years old, it was outdated and replaced by a newer secret structure anyway.

I would actually doubt that, myself. The costs of building those structures were enormous, and by 1970 or so hydrogen bombs had become powerful enough and ICBMs accurate enough that it was pretty much impossible to build something that would survive a direct hit. Once that point is reached the only protection that the site has is its secrecy, and it costs the enemy less to hire spies and launch satellites than it does to build a new mountain. It's a losing race.

Facilities like these are a remnant of the civil-defense mentality of the 1950s. When the weapons were Hiroshima-style atomic bombs and the guidance systems were a guy 20,000 feet up looking down a bombsight, it was possible to build buildings that could survive an attack. Once you have hydrogen bombs and reasonably sophisticated inertial guidance systems, though, that possibility evaporates.

"impossible to build something that would survive a direct hit."

The Soviets had versions of the their enormous SS-18/R-36 missile with a single 25Mt warhead - these were presumably aimed at hardened sites like NORAD and Raven Rock:


The thriller "Arc Light" has scenes describing what would have happened to Cheyenne Mountain if it had been hit by multiple SS-18s:


You're correct - I should have said, more generally, that the complex was outdated and replaced with newer defense/mitigation strategies.

Not a structure; it was replaced by airborne command posts.

Like the OP article speculates that structure was.

Another one in North America, outside Ottawa: http://www.diefenbunker.ca/

How did they even build this thing? The house looks like it's from the 19th century so it doesn't look like it was torn down and built again around the bunker.

Did they hollow out an old building and put a bunker in there? How did nobody notice?

How do you even build something 18 storeys deep without breaking the confines of a two storey house with your equipment?

This thing opens up so many questions!

Remember that it opens, at one point, into the subway. Its just a supposition, but I could imagine this thing being built during the construction of the subway tunnel. It would be relatively easy to disguise all the equipment going in and dirt coming out in the process.

Looking at the history of the Metro construction, the bunker construction dates to roughly the time of the 4th stage of the Metro construction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Metro

Again, its a supposition and the address of the bunker would be needed to compare to the location of the Metro built during the 4th stage.

The timeframe is off. The bunker is in the vicinity of Taganskaya station (the one on the "ring") which was opened in 1950. The bunker was built between '58 and '63 - so not only it was built much later, it also took much longer than a typical subway construction project.

Still since there is access to the subway they could have moved stuff out through the subway system at night?

That's clever, but Moscow subway is open between 4:45am and 1:00am. That doesn't seem to give much time to move out a lot of dirt, not quickly.

That's clever, but Moscow subway is open between 4:45am and 1:00am

Even back then? Even so, I bet the authorities could simply close the system down early, close off stations as needed.

Still, I suspect the builders were not worried about subway patrons seeing trainloads of excavated dirt.

They were worried about overhead satellites.

Some of the pictures (http://media.englishrussia.com/112011/coldwar/coldwar003-51....) point to subway entrances. Perhaps it was built via the subway? Or at the same time?

Here's the former Scottish wartime government command bunker, in Fife: http://www.secretbunker.co.uk/explore_the_bunker.asp

Open for visitors -- I can highly recommend it as a day out (an hour's drive from Edinburgh).

And there is one in Kelvedon Hatch outside London (accessible by underground + town bus): http://www.secretnuclearbunker.com/.

There is a lot of this stuff under Moscow:


This is also mentioned in Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_2033_(book) Amazing science fiction book.

Same under Beijing. There is a parking done in an old military zone, the doors are 50cm thick and the height seem to allow tanks go. Its is said there are many such tunnels under. They feared Russians, in fact. I wonder why they don't open them to cars or build the subway there.

I would really like someone to take one of these facilities and turn it into a paintball play area/tournament. It would be a blast!

You can play strikeball in this one!

The blue flat panel displays in the first picture and farther down are confusing. They're clearly not original, only a few years old. Perhaps the museum people did some reconstruction? I wonder what else we're seeing is reconstruction of what they thought a soviet bunker should look like.

Yes, those are LG monitors, and you can see a PC workstation under the desk.

Too bad they replaced whatever was there with those monitors

"Whatever was there" was removed before the bunker was declassified.

As far as I understand from the original text (english translation on the blogspam site is incomplete at best), the monitors were installed by the company who now manages the bunker and are apparently used for simulation of nuclear strike on NY, one of the exhibits in Cold War Museum.

Fascinating - one of the most interesting things to me is the characterization of the US soldier on the picture translated (on englishrussia) as "If you forgot where our borders start, we'll help you to land!"

Also the pictures toward the end which, if I'm not mistaken, might have been used as maps and textures in Fallout 3...

There is a similar facility in England, also now a museum-of-sorts of the cold war: "the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker".



It's a fun visit, but probably a little less authentic than this museum, as it was emptied when it was decommissioned, and it's been largely re-stocked with surplus, based on what people who worked there said that it used to look like.

The local street signs are amusing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/halfbyte/2671279410/

Oh oh! Put a datacenter in there!

10 years ago during the dot com bubble there were tons of companies that bought up old missile silo's and turned them into datacenters. I don't think any of them survived.

To my knowledge, Iron Mountain is still going very strong, there are a lot of fortune 500's that use them. http://www.ironmountain.com

And the bunker datacentre in the UK http://www.thebunker.net/

Quite a few that store data and operate servers in old Swiss Bunkers did.

See e.g. http://www.swissfortknox.com/

The via page gives the exact address - 5й Котельнический переулок, дом 11 - and the first hit in Google is http://bunker42.com/

"In the center of Moscow at 65 meters underground there is an unique object which territory contains a perfectly equipped conference-hall, a karaoke-bar and an interactive museum."

The [Deifenbunker](http://www.diefenbunker.ca/) near Ottawa, Canada is a similar declassified setup that’s well worth exploring.

Looking around the C&C rooms that had “X millions of casualties” on maps of blast epicentres really makes you think about what living during the Cold War must have felt like.

Lots of similar stuff here http://lana-sator.livejournal.com/

Halfway down there is a picture of a bookcase with a map of Russia next to it. The map is oriented at 90 degrees to 'normal' and has Western Russia at the top and Eastern Russia at the bottom.

NSFW ads at the bottom.

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!

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