This Day In History: 04/25/1983 - Andropov Writes to Student

This Day In History: 04/25/1983 - Andropov Writes to Student

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Samantha Smith sends Yuri Andropov a letter, America is labeled on a map by Amerigo Vespucci, the Hubble Space Telescope launches with the Discovery space shuttle, and Georgia scraps the Dixie flag in This Day in History video. The date is April 25th. Samantha's letter was sent to the Soviet Union leader during the height of the Cold War.

What did Samantha Smith write in the letter?

“Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren’t please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
Samantha Smith”

The excerpt of this letter depicts a longing for peace and the end of the war by an innocent student. Samantha Smith solely questioned the desire of the Soviet Union’s president for war? Or if he wished to conquer the world. She gave a brief explanation about the creation of this world which ultimately teaches us to live in peace together. When we keenly read the words of this letter it reflects a desire for a peaceful world without any tussle, any war, or bloodshed. The whole context of the letter revolves around the possibility of co-existence in the absence of war. It calls for unity on the basis of humanity.

This Day In History: 04/25/1983 - Andropov Writes to Student - HISTORY

On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured: Dawes left the city via the Boston Neck peninsula and Revere crossed the Charles River to Charlestown by boat. As the two couriers made their way, Patriots in Charlestown waited for a signal from Boston informing them of the British troop movement. As previously agreed, one lantern would be hung in the steeple of Boston's Old North Church, the highest point in the city, if the British were marching out of the city by Boston Neck, and two lanterns would be hung if they were crossing the Charles River to Cambridge. Two lanterns were hung, and the armed Patriots set out for Lexington and Concord accordingly. Along the way, Revere and Dawes roused hundreds of Minutemen, who armed themselves and set out to oppose the British.

Revere arrived in Lexington shortly before Dawes, but together they warned Adams and Hancock and then set out for Concord. Along the way, they were joined by Samuel Prescott, a young Patriot who had been riding home after visiting a lady friend. Early on the morning of April 19, a British patrol captured Revere, and Dawes lost his horse, forcing him to walk back to Lexington on foot. However, Prescott escaped and rode on to Concord to warn the Patriots there. After being roughly questioned for an hour or two, Revere was released when the patrol heard Minutemen alarm guns being fired on their approach to Lexington.

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington's common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment's hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the "shot heard around the world" was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

Alexandra Scott (1996 – 2004)

Alex Scott holding a pitcher of lemonade. Image source:

Alexandra Scott had not even celebrated her first birthday when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer. After receiving a stem cell transplant at the age of four, she grew determined to raise money for other children going through the same thing. Her solution was very true to her age: a lemonade stand. Operating out of her front yard, Scott and her brother raised $2,000. This became an annual event, growing in popularity and supported by others who were inspired by her story to start their own lemonade stands. Collectively, they raised over $1 million before Scott lost her own battle to cancer in 2004. She was eight. Her family carries on her legacy through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which to date has raised over $150 million.

1983 Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government on released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan—the American president known as the “Great Communicator”—Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.


Military tensions rise between the two Cold War powers led by the Soviet Union and the United States. Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact forces build on the border between East Germany and West Germany, and West Berlin is blockaded. A NATO attempt to break the blockade results in heavy casualties. Airman First Class Billy McCoy (William Allen Young) lives at Whiteman Air Force Base near Sedalia, Missouri. He is called to alert status at the Minuteman launch site he is stationed at in Sweetsage, Missouri, 20 miles from Kansas City. The Hendry family lives on a farm adjoining McCoy's launch site.

The Dahlberg family lives on their farm twenty miles away from the Sweetsage launch site, in Harrisonville, Missouri, 40 miles from Kansas City. The Dahlbergs' eldest daughter Denise (Lori Lethin) is set to be married in two days to a student at the University of Kansas, and they perform their wedding dress rehearsal.

The next day, the military conflict in Europe rapidly escalates. Tactical nuclear weapons are detonated by NATO to stop a Soviet Union advance into West Germany, and each side attacks naval targets in the Persian Gulf. Dr. Russell Oakes (Jason Robards), a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, travels to Lawrence, Kansas by car to teach a class at the University of Kansas hospital there. Pre-med University of Kansas student Stephen Klein (Steve Guttenberg) receives a physical at the hospital, hears the news from Europe, and decides to hitchhike toward home in Joplin, Missouri.

As the threat of large-scale nuclear attack grows, hoarding begins, and so does evacuation of major cities in both the Soviet Union and United States. Frequent Emergency Broadcast System warnings are sent over television and radio, and Kansas City begins to empty, outbound freeways clogged. Dr. Oakes is among the many stuck in the traffic jam as he drives toward Lawrence, but, after hearing an EBS alert and realizing the danger to Kansas City and his family living there, decides to turn around and head home.

Minutes apart, the United States launches its Minuteman missiles, and United States military personnel aboard the EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft track inbound Soviet nuclear missiles. The film deliberately leaves unclear who fired theirs first. Billy McCoy flees the site he was stationed at now that its Minuteman missile has been launched, intending to locate his wife and child. As air raid sirens go off, widespread panic grips Kansas City as most people frantically seek fallout shelters and other protection from the imminent Soviet nuclear attack.

High-yield nuclear weapons detonate over numerous locations, including downtown Kansas City, Sedalia, and Sweetsage. The explosions cause electromagnetic pulses, disabling vehicles and destroying the electrical grid, moments before heat and blast waves destroy and vaporize everything nearby. The Hendry family, having initially ignored the crisis, is killed when they try to flee. McCoy takes refuge in a truck trailer, and Klein, who had hitchhiked as far as Harrisonville, finds the Dahlberg home and begs for protection in the family's basement. Dr. Oakes, who witnessed the nuclear explosion over Kansas City, walks to the hospital in Lawrence and begins treating patients.

Nuclear fallout and its deadly effects are felt everywhere in the region. McCoy and Oakes, both outside immediately after the explosions, have been exposed without their knowledge to lethal doses of radiation. Denise Dahlberg, frantic after days in the family's basement shelter, runs outside, and Klein, who vows to her father that he'll bring her back, does so, but not before both have been exposed to very high doses of radiation. McCoy learns in his travels that Sedalia and many other cities have been obliterated. Food and water are in very short supply, and looting and other criminal activity leads to the imposition of martial law. Klein takes Denise and her brother Danny, who was blinded by one of the nuclear explosions, to the hospital in Lawrence for treatment. McCoy also travels there, where he dies of radiation poisoning. Denise and Danny Dahlberg, and Klein, finally leave for Harrisonville and the Dahlberg farm, when it becomes clear to them they can't be treated medically for their injuries.

Jim Dahlberg, returning home from a municipal meeting about agricultural techniques that may work to grow food in the new circumstances, finds squatters on the farm. He explains that it is his land, and asks them to leave, at which point one of the squatters shoots and kills him without any sign of remorse.

Dr. Oakes, at last aware he has sustained lethal exposure to radiation, returns to Kansas City on foot to see the site of his home before he dies. He finds squatters there, attempts to drive them off, and is instead offered food. Oakes collapses, weeps, and one of the squatters comforts him.

The film ends as Lawrence science faculty head Joe Huxley repeatedly tries to contact other survivors with a shortwave radio. There is no response.

    as Dr. Russell Oakes as Helen Oakes
  • Kyle Aletter as Marilyn Oakes
    as Jim Dahlberg as Eve Dahlberg as Denise Dahlberg
  • Doug Scott as Danny Dahlberg
  • Ellen Anthony as Joleen Dahlberg
    as Nurse Nancy Bauer as Dr. Sam Hachiya
  • Lin McCarthy as Dr. Austin as Dr. Wallenberg as Dr. Landowska
  • Jonathan Estrin as Julian French
    as Stephen Klein as Joe Huxley as Alison Ransom as Airman First Class Billy McCoy as Bruce Gallatin as Reverend Walker
  • Clayton Day as Dennis Hendry
  • Antonie Becker as Ellen Hendry as Aldo as Tom Cooper
  • Stan Wilson as Vinnie Conrad as Man at phone

The Day After was the idea of ABC Motion Picture Division president Brandon Stoddard, [7] who, after watching The China Syndrome, was so impressed that he envisioned creating a film exploring the effects of nuclear war on the United States. Stoddard asked his executive vice president of television movies and miniseries Stu Samuels to develop a script. Samuels created the title The Day After to emphasize that the story was not about a nuclear war itself, but the aftermath. Samuels suggested several writers and eventually Stoddard commissioned veteran television writer Edward Hume to write the script in 1981. ABC, which financed the production, was concerned about the graphic nature of the film and how to appropriately portray the subject on a family-oriented television channel. Hume undertook a massive amount of research on nuclear war and went through several drafts until finally ABC deemed the plot and characters acceptable.

Originally, the film was based more around and in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City was not bombed in the original script, although Whiteman Air Force Base was, making Kansas City suffer shock waves and the horde of survivors staggering into town. There was no Lawrence, Kansas in the story, although there was a small Kansas town called "Hampton". While Hume was writing the script, he and producer Robert Papazian, who had great experience in on-location shooting, took several trips to Kansas City to scout locations and met with officials from the Kansas film commission and from the Kansas tourist offices to search for a suitable location for "Hampton." It came down to a choice of either Warrensburg, Missouri, and Lawrence, Kansas, both college towns—Warrensburg was home of Central Missouri State University and was near Whiteman Air Force Base and Lawrence was home of the University of Kansas and was near Kansas City. Hume and Papazian ended up selecting Lawrence, due to the access to a number of good locations: a university, a hospital, football and basketball venues, farms, and a flat countryside. Lawrence was also agreed upon as being the "geographic center" of the United States. The Lawrence people were urging ABC to change the name "Hampton" to "Lawrence" in the script.

Back in Los Angeles, the idea of making a TV movie showing the true effects of nuclear war on average American citizens was still stirring up controversy. ABC, Hume, and Papazian realized that for the scene depicting the nuclear blast, they would have to use state-of-the-art special effects and they took the first step by hiring some of the best special effects people in the business to draw up some storyboards for the complicated blast scene. Then, ABC hired Robert Butler to direct the project. For several months, this group worked on drawing up storyboards and revising the script again and again then, in early 1982, Butler was forced to leave The Day After because of other contractual commitments. ABC then offered the project to two other directors, who both turned it down. Finally, in May, ABC hired feature film director Nicholas Meyer, who had just completed the blockbuster Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Meyer was apprehensive at first and doubted ABC would get away with making a television film on nuclear war without the censors diminishing its effect. However, after reading the script, Meyer agreed to direct The Day After.

Meyer wanted to make sure he would film the script he was offered. He did not want the censors to censor the film, nor the film to be a regular Hollywood disaster movie from the start. Meyer figured the more The Day After resembled such a film, the less effective it would be, and preferred to present the facts of nuclear war to viewers. He made it clear to ABC that no big TV or film stars should be in The Day After. ABC agreed, although they wanted to have one star to help attract European audiences to the film when it would be shown theatrically there. Later, while flying to visit his parents in New York City, Meyer happened to be on the same plane with Jason Robards and asked him to join the cast.

Meyer plunged into several months of nuclear research, which made him quite pessimistic about the future, to point of becoming ill each evening when he came home from work. Meyer and Papazian also made trips to the ABC censors, and to the United States Department of Defense during their research phase, and experienced conflicts with both. Meyer had many heated arguments over elements in the script, that the network censors wanted cut out of the film. The Department of Defense said they would cooperate with ABC if the script made clear that the Soviet Union launched their missiles first—something Meyer and Papazian took pains not to do.

In any case, Meyer, Papazian, Hume, and several casting directors spent most of July 1982 taking numerous trips to Kansas City. In between casting in Los Angeles, where they relied mostly on unknowns, they would fly to the Kansas City area to interview local actors and scenery. They were hoping to find some real Midwesterners for smaller roles. Hollywood casting directors strolled through shopping malls in Kansas City, looking for local people to fill small and supporting roles, while the daily newspaper in Lawrence ran an advertisement calling for local residents of all ages to sign up for jobs as a large number of extras in the film and a professor of theater and film at the University of Kansas was hired to head up the local casting of the movie. Out of the eighty or so speaking parts, only fifteen were cast in Los Angeles. The remaining roles were filled in Kansas City and Lawrence.

While in Kansas City, Meyer and Papazian toured the Federal Emergency Management Agency offices in Kansas City. When asked what their plans for surviving nuclear war were, a FEMA official replied that they were experimenting with putting evacuation instructions in telephone books in New England. "In about six years, everyone should have them." This meeting led Meyer to later refer to FEMA as "a complete joke." It was during this time that the decision was made to change "Hampton" in the script to "Lawrence." Meyer and Hume figured since Lawrence was a real town, that it would be more believable and besides, Lawrence was a perfect choice to play a representative of Middle America. The town boasted a "socio-cultural mix," sat near the exact geographic center of the continental U.S., and Hume and Meyer's research told them that Lawrence was a prime missile target, because 150 Minuteman missile silos stood nearby. Lawrence had some great locations, and the people there were more supportive of the project. Suddenly, less emphasis was put on Kansas City, the decision was made to have the city completely annihilated in the script, and Lawrence was made the primary location in the film.

Editing Edit

ABC originally planned to air The Day After as a four-hour "television event", spread over two nights with total running time of 180 minutes without commercials. [8] Director Nicholas Meyer felt the original script was padded, and suggested cutting out an hour of material to present the whole film in one night. The network stuck with their two night broadcast plan, and Meyer filmed the entire three-hour script, as evidenced by a 172-minute work-print that has surfaced. [9] Subsequently, the network found that it was difficult to find advertisers, considering the subject matter. ABC relented, and told Meyer he could edit the film for a one-night broadcast version. Meyer's original single-night cut ran two hours and twenty minutes, which he presented to the network. After this screening, many executives were deeply moved and some even cried, leading Meyer to believe they approved of his cut.

Nevertheless, a further six-month struggle ensued over the final shape of the film. Network censors had opinions about the inclusion of specific scenes, and ABC itself, eventually intent on "trimming the film to the bone", made demands to cut out many scenes Meyer strongly lobbied to keep. Finally Meyer and his editor Bill Dornisch balked. Dornisch was fired, and Meyer walked away from the project. ABC brought in other editors, but the network ultimately was not happy with the results they produced. They finally brought Meyer back and reached a compromise, with Meyer paring down The Day After to a final running time of 120 minutes. [10] [11]

Broadcast Edit

The Day After was initially scheduled to premiere on ABC in May 1983, but the post-production work to reduce the film's length pushed back its initial airdate to November. Censors forced ABC to cut an entire scene of a child having a nightmare about nuclear holocaust and then sitting up, screaming. A psychiatrist told ABC that this would disturb children. "This strikes me as ludicrous," Meyer wrote in TV Guide at the time, "not only in relation to the rest of the film, but also when contrasted with the huge doses of violence to be found on any average evening of TV viewing." In any case, they made a few more cuts, including to a scene where Denise possesses a diaphragm. Another scene, where a hospital patient abruptly sits up screaming, was excised from the original television broadcast but restored for home video releases. Meyer persuaded ABC to dedicate the film to the citizens of Lawrence, and also to put a disclaimer at the end of the film, following the credits, letting the viewer know that The Day After downplayed the true effects of nuclear war so they would be able to have a story. The disclaimer also included a list of books that provide more information on the subject.

The Day After received a large promotional campaign prior to its broadcast. Commercials aired several months in advance, ABC distributed half a million "viewer's guides" that discussed the dangers of nuclear war and prepared the viewer for the graphic scenes of mushroom clouds and radiation burn victims. Discussion groups were also formed nationwide. [12]

Music Edit

Composer David Raksin wrote original music and adapted music from The River (a documentary film score by concert composer Virgil Thomson), featuring an adaptation of the hymn "How Firm a Foundation". Although he recorded just under 30 minutes of music, much of it was edited out of the final cut. Music from the First Strike footage, conversely, was not edited out.

Deleted and alternative scenes Edit

Due to the film's being shortened from the original three hours (running time) to two, several planned special-effects scenes were scrapped, although storyboards were made in anticipation of a possible "expanded" version. They included a "bird's eye" view of Kansas City at the moment of two nuclear detonations as seen from a Boeing 737 airliner on approach to the city's airport, as well as simulated newsreel footage of U.S. troops in West Germany taking up positions in preparation of advancing Soviet armored units, and the tactical nuclear exchange in Germany between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, which follows after the attacking Warsaw Pact force breaks through and overwhelms the NATO lines.

ABC censors severely toned down scenes to reduce the body count or severe burn victims. Meyer refused to remove key scenes but reportedly some eight and a half minutes of excised footage still exist, significantly more graphic. Some footage was reinstated for the film's release on home video. Additionally, the nuclear attack scene was longer and supposed to feature very graphic and very accurate shots of what happens to a human body during a nuclear blast. Examples included people being set on fire, their flesh carbonizing, being burned to the bone, eyes melting, faceless heads, skin hanging, deaths from flying glass and debris, limbs torn off, being crushed, blown from buildings by the shockwave, and people in fallout shelters suffocating during the firestorm. Also cut were images of radiation sickness, as well as graphic post-attack violence from survivors such as food riots, looting, and general lawlessness as authorities attempted to restore order.

One cut scene shows surviving students battling over food. The two sides were to be athletes versus the science students under the guidance of Professor Huxley. Another brief scene later cut related to a firing squad, where two U.S. soldiers are blindfolded and executed. In this scene, an officer reads the charges, verdict and sentence, as a bandaged chaplain reads the Last Rites. [ citation needed ] A similar sequence occurs in a 1965 UK-produced faux documentary, The War Game. In the initial 1983 broadcast of The Day After, when the U.S. president addresses the nation, the voice was an imitation of then-President Ronald Reagan (who later stated that he watched the film and was deeply moved). [13] In subsequent broadcasts, that voice was overdubbed by a stock actor.

Home video releases in the U.S. and internationally come in at various running times, many listed at 126 or 127 minutes full screen (4:3 aspect ratio) seems to be more common than widescreen. RCA videodiscs of the early 1980s were limited to 2 hours per disc, so that full screen release appears to be closest to what originally aired on ABC in the US. A 2001 U.S. VHS version (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Troy, Michigan) lists a running time of 122 minutes. A 1995 double laser disc "director's cut" version (Image Entertainment) runs 127 minutes, includes commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and is "presented in its 1.75:1 European theatrical aspect ratio" (according to the LD jacket).

Two different German DVD releases run 122 and 115 minutes edits reportedly downplay the Soviet Union's role. [14]

A two disc Blu-ray special edition [15] was released in 2018 by video specialty label Kino Lorber, presenting the film in high definition. The release contains both the 122-minute television cut, presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio as broadcast, as well as the 127-minute theatrical cut presented in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

On its original broadcast (Sunday, November 20, 1983), John Cullum warned viewers before the film was premiered that the film contains graphic and disturbing scenes, and encouraged parents who have young children watching, to watch together and discuss the issues of nuclear warfare. [16] ABC and local TV affiliates opened 1-800 hotlines with counselors standing by. There were no commercial breaks after the nuclear attack. ABC then aired a live debate on Viewpoint, ABC's occasional discussion program hosted by Nightline ' s Ted Koppel, featuring scientist Carl Sagan, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Elie Wiesel, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, General Brent Scowcroft and commentator William F. Buckley Jr.. Sagan argued against nuclear proliferation, while Buckley promoted the concept of nuclear deterrence. Sagan described the arms race in the following terms: "Imagine a room awash in gasoline, and there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has nine thousand matches, the other seven thousand matches. Each of them is concerned about who's ahead, who's stronger." [17]

The film and its subject matter were prominently featured in the news media both before and after the broadcast, including on such covers as TIME, [18] Newsweek, [19] U.S. News & World Report, [20] and TV Guide. [21]

Critics tended to claim the film was either sensationalizing nuclear war or that it was too tame. [22] The special effects and realistic portrayal of nuclear war received praise. The film received 12 Emmy nominations and won two Emmy awards. It was rated "way above average" in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, until all reviews for movies exclusive to TV were removed from the publication. [23]

In the United States, 38.5 million households, or an estimated 100 million people, watched The Day After on its first broadcast, a record audience for a made-for-TV movie. [24] Producers Sales Organization released the film theatrically around the world, in the Eastern Bloc, China, North Korea and Cuba (this international version contained six minutes of footage not in the telecast edition). Since commercials are not sold in these markets, Producers Sales Organization failed to gain revenue to the tune of an undisclosed sum. [ citation needed ] Years later this international version was released to tape by Embassy Home Entertainment.

Commentator Ben Stein, critical of the movie's message (i.e. that the strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction would lead to a war), wrote in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner what life might be like in an America under Soviet occupation. Stein's idea was eventually dramatized in the miniseries Amerika, also broadcast by ABC. [25]

The New York Post accused Meyer of being a traitor, writing, "Why is Nicholas Meyer doing Yuri Andropov's work for him?" Much press comment focused on the unanswered question in the film of who started the war. [26] Richard Grenier in the National Review accused The Day After of promoting "unpatriotic" and pro-Soviet attitudes. [27]

Television critic Matt Zoller Seitz in his 2016 book co-written with Alan Sepinwall titled TV (The Book) named The Day After as the 4th greatest American TV-movie of all time, writing: "Very possibly the bleakest TV-movie ever broadcast, The Day After is an explicitly antiwar statement dedicated entirely to showing audiences what would happen if nuclear weapons were used on civilian populations in the United States." [28]

Effects on policymakers Edit

U.S. President Ronald Reagan watched the film more than a month before its screening, on Columbus Day, October 10, 1983. [29] He wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed," [30] [26] and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war". [31] The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer's, told him "If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone." [ citation needed ] In 1987 Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which resulted in the banning and reducing of their nuclear arsenal. In Reagan's memoirs, he drew a direct line from the film to the signing. [26] Reagan supposedly later sent Meyer a telegram after the summit, saying, "Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did." [10] However, during an interview in 2010, Meyer said that this telegram was a myth, and that the sentiment stemmed from a friend's letter to Meyer he suggested the story had origins in editing notes received from the White House during the production, which ". may have been a joke, but it wouldn't surprise me, him being an old Hollywood guy." [26]

The film also had impact outside the U.S. In 1987, during the era of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika reforms, the film was shown on Soviet television. Four years earlier, Georgia Rep. Elliott Levitas and 91 co-sponsors introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives "[expressing] the sense of the Congress that the American Broadcasting Company, the Department of State, and the U.S. Information Agency should work to have the television movie The Day After aired to the Soviet public." [32]

The Day After won two Emmy Awards and received 10 other Emmy nominations. [33]

The mystery of the death of Yuri Andropov whether he was poisoned

Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee Yuri Andropov managed to spend just over a year. In early February 1984, Andropov’s life was cut short. The death of General Secretary has generated a lot of rumors, one of which was the version about the poisoning of the head of the country. Some still believe that such speculation was unfounded.

Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov never been the ideal condition. In his youth Andropov earned kidney disease. According to Oleg Hlobustov, author of the book “Andropov Phenomenon,” the disease moved from the future Secretary General after it during practice in the Rybinsk technical school of water transport fell from the vessel into the cold autumn water. It is a chronic kidney disease and subsequently caused the release of Yuri Andropov from military service. Some believed that Andropov simply exploited their diagnosis. For example, Secretary of the Central Committee of the party Varlamov wondered why the “young and healthy” Yuri “hanging around in the rear”.

And indeed, according to the book “Dean reed: the tragedy of the red cowboy” Fedor Razzakov, until Andropov came to power, the buds are not too bothered. But he had to be at the helm of the state, as the disease has deteriorated. Here’s the doctor Yevgeny Chazov in his memoirs, “Dance of death” notes that “Andropov disease rapidly progressed.” However, on the background of the therapy, according to the same Chazov, the Secretary General felt satisfactory. However, on 9 February 1984, Yuri died. According to Anatoly Tereshchenko, author of “Ruins of incompetence”, according to the official version, Andropov died of kidney failure.

the Suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of

But not everyone believed the official cause of the death of Yuri Andropov. And there was a good reason. So, the Deputy security chief Andropov, Boris Kluikov, whose words are quoted in the book by Alexander Ostrovsky, “Who put Gorbachev?”, remember that even on the morning of 9 February, the anniversary of the sudden death of the Secretary General, “everything was normal”. The nurse just complained Kluikova that Andropov did not want to eat. Then Boris came in to see the boss helped him eat and shave. But just a few minutes, as he put Kluikov started “unusual medical vanity”. Andropov was in a coma and 16 hours and 50 minutes he was gone.

Moreover, the death of Yuri Andropov was not “alone”, and “force”. At least so says Alexander Korzhakov, in his book, “Demons 2:0. And kings-is not real!”. The fact that Andropov simply disconnected from life support systems, while, according to Korzhakov, the agony could last several more months. However, the surprise came Chernenko and Plekhanov, who demanded the head of security Secretary General Ivanov to take the keys from the safe with the secret documents, which was equivalent to the transfer of power. That’s only in the time Andropov was still alive.

the emergence of the version of the poisoning

in connection with the above circumstances some researchers and the witnesses of those events showed the confidence that Yuri Andropov did not die a natural death but was murdered. The well-known politician Gavriil Popov believes that the Secretary General has died suspiciously “timely” and therefore, most likely, was poisoned and it is possible that someone from the medical staff. The version of the poisoning at the time was supported by the foreign press. For example, the Paris newspaper “Russian thought” in July of 1984, referred to these rumors. And the magazine “Voice of Diaspora” in the same year reported that in the US media there is evidence of poisoning of Yuri Andropov radioactive strontium-90.

the Cause of the speculation, according to which Andropov could be poisoned, and served as the Secretary-General himself. In the words of Yuri in his lifeand he was suffering from poisoning more than once. So, the head of the party claimed that in 1969 he was poisoned by the Vietnamese. Then after returning from Hanoi Andropov first time I felt really bad. In addition, as write M. A. Pankov and other authors of � famous mysteries of history”, a sharp deterioration in the health of the Chairman of the KGB came after a trip to Afghanistan in 1977. Despite the fact that presumably Andropov was the victim of a viral infection, nor any other case the exact causes of ailments of the Secretary General wasn’t established.

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This Day in History: Apr 10, 1834: A torture chamber is uncovered by arson

On this day in 1834, a fire at the LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, leads to the discovery of a torture chamber where slaves are routinely brutalized by Delphine LaLaurie. Rescuers found a 70-year-old black woman trapped in the kitchen during the fire because she was chained up while LaLaurie was busy saving her furniture. The woman later revealed that she had set the fire in an attempt to escape LaLaurie's torture. She led authorities up to the attic, where seven slaves were tied with spiked iron collars.

After Delphine LaLaurie married her third husband, Louis LaLaurie, and moved into his estate on Royal Street, she immediately took control of the large number of slaves used as servants. LaLaurie was a well-known sadist, but the mistreatment of slaves by the wealthy and socially connected was not a matter for the police at the time.

However, in 1833, Delphine chased a small slave girl with a whip until the girl fell off the roof of the house and died. LaLaurie tried to cover up the incident, but police found the body hidden in a well. Authorities decided to fine LaLaurie and force the sale of the other slaves on the estate.

LaLaurie foiled this plan by secretly arranging for her relatives and friends to buy the slaves. She then sneaked them back into the mansion, where she continued to torture them until the night of the fire in April 1834.

Apparently her Southern neighbors had some standards when it came to the treatment of slaves, because a mob gathered in protest after learning about LaLaurie's torture chamber. She and her husband fled by boat, leaving the butler (who had also participated in the torture) to face the wrath of the crowd.

Although charges were never filed against LaLaurie, her reputation in upper-class society was destroyed. It is believed that she died in Paris in December 1842.

Also on this day: Apr 10, 1919: Zapata assassinated in Mexico

Emiliano Zapata, a leader of peasants and indigenous people during the Mexican Revolution, is ambushed and shot to death in Morelos by government forces.

Born a peasant in 1879, Zapata was forced into the Mexican army in 1908 following his attempt to recover village lands taken over by a rancher. After the revolution began in 1910, he raised an army of peasants in the southern state of Morelos under the slogan "Land and Liberty." Demanding simple agrarian reforms, Zapata and his guerrilla farmers opposed the central Mexican government under Francisco Madero, later under Victoriano Huerta, and finally under Venustiano Carranza. Zapata and his followers never gained control of the central Mexican government, but they redistributed land and aided poor farmers within the territory under their control.

Zapata's influence has endured long after his death, and his agrarian reform movement, known as zapatismo, remains important to many Mexicans today. In 1994, a guerrilla group calling themselves the Zapata Army of National Liberation launched a peasant uprising in the southern state of Chiapas.


There has been much contention over his family background. [4] According to the official biography, Andropov was born in Stanitsa Nagutskaya (modern-day Stavropol Krai of Russia) on 15 June 1914. [5] [6] His father, Vladimir Konstantinovich Andropov, was a railway worker of Don Cossack descent who died from typhus in 1919. His mother, Yevgenia Karlovna Fleckenstein, (none of the official sources mention her name) was a school teacher who died in 1931. [7] [8] She was born in the Ryazan Governorate into a family of town dwellers and was abandoned on the doorstep of a Finnish citizen, a Jewish watchmaker, Karl Franzevich Fleckenstein, who lived in Moscow he and his wife, Eudokia Mikhailovna Fleckenstein, adopted and raised her. [9] [10] Later research has shown that many details about Andropov's biography were largely falsified during his lifetime which has contributed to the confusion connected to his family history.

His earliest documented name was Grigory Vladimirovich Andropov-Fyodorov he changed it to Yuri Andropov several years later. [11] While his original birth certificate disappeared, it was established that Andropov was in fact born in Moscow where his mother had been working in a women's gymnasium from 1913 until 1917. [9] [11]

To make things more complicated, he named different dates of her death at various occasions: 1927, 1929, 1930 and 1931. [8] [9] The story of her adoption was also highly likely a mystification. In 1937 Andropov went through a check when he applied for Communist Party membership, and it turned out that "the sister of his native maternal grandmother" (he called her his aunt) who was living with him and who supported the legend of his Ryazan peasant origins was in fact his nurse who had been working at Fleckenstein's long before he was born. [8] [9]

It was also reported that his mother belonged to merchantry. In fact Karl Fleckenstein was a rich jewel merchant, owner of a jewellers, and so was his wife who took over her husband's business after his accidental death in 1915 (he was confused for a German during the infamous anti-German pogrom in Moscow, although Andropov preferred to refer to it as anti-Jewish). [11] [12] The whole family could have turned into lishentsy and stripped of basic rights if she hadn't abandoned the store after another pogrom in 1917, invented a proletarian background, and left Moscow for the Stavropol Governorate along with Andropov's mother. [8] [9]

He gave different versions of his father's fate: in one case he divorced his mother soon after his birth, and in another he died of illness. [11] The "father" he referred to, Vladimir Andropov, was in fact his stepfather who lived and worked at Nagutskaya and died from typhus in 1919. The Fyodorov surname belonged to his second stepfather (since 1921) Viktor Fyodorov, a machinist's assistant turned school teacher. His real father remains unknown he probably died in 1916 – a date written in Andropov's 1932 résumé. [9] [11] During the 1937 check, it was reported that his father served as an officer in the Imperial Russian Army. Andropov was thoroughly interviewed four times, yet he was so convincing that he managed to have all charges dropped. He joined the Communist Party in 1939. [8] [9]

Andropov was educated at the Rybinsk Water Transport Technical College and graduated in 1936. [5] As a teenager he worked as a loader, a telegraph clerk, and a sailor for the Volga steamship line. [10] [7] At 16, Yuri Andropov, then a member of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (YCL, or Komsomol), was a worker in the town of Mozdok in the North Ossetian ASSR. [5]

He became full-time Secretary of the YCL organization of the Water Transport Technical School in Rybinsk in the Yaroslavl Region and was soon promoted to the post of organizer of the YCL Central Committee at the Volodarsky Shipyards in Rybinsk. In 1938, he was elected First Secretary of the Yaroslavl Regional Committee of the YCL, and was First Secretary of the Central Committee of Komsomol in the Soviet Karelo-Finnish Republic from 1940 to 1944. [10]

According to the official biography, during World War II Andropov took part in partisan guerrilla activities in Finland, although modern researchers didn't manage to find any traces of his supposed partisan squad. [11] From 1944 onwards, he left Komsomol for Communist Party work. Between 1946 and 1951, he studied at the university of Petrozavodsk. In 1947, he was elected Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Karelo-Finnish SSR. [10] [13]

In 1951 Andropov was transferred to CPSU Central Committee. He was appointed an inspector and then the head of a subdepartment of the Committee. [10]

In July 1954, he was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Hungary and held this position during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Andropov played a key role in crushing the Hungarian uprising. He convinced a reluctant Nikita Khrushchev that military intervention was necessary. [14] He is known as 'The Butcher of Budapest' for his ruthless suppression of the Hungarian uprising. [15] The Hungarian leaders were arrested and Imre Nagy and others executed.

After these events, Andropov suffered from a "Hungarian complex", according to historian Christopher Andrew: "He had watched in horror from the windows of his embassy as officers of the hated Hungarian security service [the Államvédelmi Hatóság or AVH] were strung up from lampposts. Andropov remained haunted for the rest of his life by the speed with which an apparently all-powerful Communist one-party state had begun to topple. When other Communist regimes later seemed at risk – in Prague in 1968, in Kabul in 1979, in Warsaw in 1981, he was convinced that, as in Budapest in 1956, only armed force could ensure their survival". [14]

In 1957, Andropov returned to Moscow from Budapest in order to head the Department for Liaison with Communist and Workers' Parties in Socialist Countries, a position he held until 1967. In 1961, he was elected full member of the CPSU Central Committee and was promoted to the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee in 1962. In 1967, he was relieved of his work in the Central Committee apparatus and appointed head of the KGB on recommendation of Mikhail Suslov, at the same time promoted a Candidate Member of the Politburo. In 1970, out of concern that the burial place of Joseph and Magda Goebbels along with their 6 children would become a shrine to neo-Nazis, Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains that were buried in Magdeburg in 1946. The remains were thoroughly burned and crushed, and the ashes thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe. Although no proof exists that the Russians ever found Adolf Hitler's body, it is presumed that Hitler and Eva Braun were among the remains as 10 or 11 individuals were exhumed. [16] [b] Andropov gained additional powers in 1973, when he was promoted to full member of the Politburo.

Crushing the Prague Spring Edit

During the events of the Prague Spring in 1968, Andropov was the main advocate for "extreme measures" being taken against Czechoslovakia. According to classified information released by Vasili Mitrokhin, "[t]he KGB whipped up the fear that Czechoslovakia could fall victim to NATO aggression or to a coup". [14] At this time, agent Oleg Kalugin reported from Washington that he gained access to "absolutely reliable documents proving that neither the CIA nor any other agency was manipulating the Czechoslovak reform movement". [14] However his message was destroyed because it contradicted the conspiracy theory fabricated by Andropov. [14] Andropov ordered a number of active measures, collectively known as operation PROGRESS, against Czechoslovak reformers.

Suppression of dissidents Edit

Throughout his career, Andropov aimed to achieve "the destruction of dissent in all its forms" and insisted that "the struggle for human rights was a part of a wide-ranging imperialist plot to undermine the foundation of the Soviet state". [14] Towards this end, he launched a campaign to eliminate all opposition in the USSR through a mixture of mass arrests, involuntary commitments to psychiatric hospitals, and pressuring on rights activists to emigrate from the Soviet Union.These measures were meticulously documented throughout his time as KGB chairman by the underground Chronicle of Current Events, a samizdat publication which was itself finally forced out of existence with its last published issue, dated 30 June 1982. [17]

On 3 July 1967, he made a proposal to establish the KGB's Fifth Directorate for dealing with the political opposition [18] : 29 (ideological counterintelligence). [19] : 177 At the end of July, the directorate was established and entered in its files cases of all Soviet dissidents including Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. [18] In 1968, Andropov as the KGB Chairman issued his order "On the tasks of State security agencies in combating the ideological sabotage by the adversary", calling for struggle against dissidents and their imperialist masters. [14]

After the assassination attempt against Brezhnev in January 1969, Andropov led the interrogation of the captured gunman, Viktor Ivanovich Ilyin. [20] [21] Ilyin was pronounced insane and sent to Kazan Psychiatric Hospital. [22] Later, on 29 April 1969, he submitted to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union an elaborated plan for creating a network of psychiatric hospitals to defend the "Soviet Government and socialist order" from dissidents. [19] : 177 In January 1970 Andropov submitted an alarming account to his fellow Politburo members of the widespread threat of the mentally ill to stability and the security of the regime. [23] The proposal by Andropov to use psychiatry for struggle against dissidents was implemented. [24] : 42 Andropov was in charge of the widespread deployment of psychiatric repression since he was the head of the KGB. [25] : 187–188 According to Yuri Felshtinsky and Boris Gulko, the originators of the idea to use psychiatry for punitive purposes were the head of the KGB (Andropov) and the head of the Fifth Directorate, Filipp Bobkov. [26]

The repression of dissidents [27] [28] included plans to maim the dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who had defected in 1961. There are some who believe that Andropov was behind the deaths of Fyodor Kulakov and Pyotr Masherov, the two youngest members of the Soviet leadership. [29] A declassified document revealed that Andropov as KGB director gave the order to prevent unauthorized gatherings mourning the death of John Lennon. [30]

In 1977, Andropov convinced Brezhnev that the Ipatiev House, where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by Communist revolutionaries, had become a site of pilgrimage for covert monarchists. [31] With the Politburo's approval the house, deemed to be not of "sufficient historical significance", was demolished in September 1977, less than a year before the 60th anniversary of the murders. [32]

According to Yaakov Kedmi, Andropov was particularly keen to persecute any sign of Zionism in order to distance himself from his Jewish heritage. Andropov was personally responsible for orchestrating the arrest and persecution of Soviet Jewish activist Natan Sharansky. [33]

Role in the invasion of Afghanistan Edit

In March 1979, Andropov and the Politburo initially opposed their subsequent decision to intervene militarily in Afghanistan. [34] Among their concerns were that the international community would blame the USSR for its "aggression" and that it would derail the upcoming SALT II negotiation meeting with President Carter. [35] However, his bottom line: "under no circumstances can we lose Afghanistan," led him and the Politburo to invade Afghanistan on 24 December 1979. The invasion led to the extended Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) and a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow by 66 countries, something of concern to Andropov since spring 1979. [36] Some have proposed that the Soviet-Afghan War also played an important role in the breakdown of the Soviet Union. [37]

Role in the non-invasion of Poland Edit

On 10 December 1981, in the face of Poland's Solidarity movement, Andropov, along with Mikhail Suslov and Wojciech Jaruzelski, [38] persuaded Brezhnev that it would be counterproductive for the Soviet Union to invade Poland by repeating Prague 1968. [39] This effectively marked the end of the Brezhnev Doctrine. [40]

The pacification of Poland was thus left to Jaruzelski, Kiszczak and their Polish forces.

Promotion of Gorbachev Edit

From 1980 to 1982, while still chairman of the KGB, Andropov opposed plans to occupy Poland after the emergence of the Solidarity movement and promoted reform-minded party cadres including Mikhail Gorbachev. [7] Andropov was the longest-serving KGB chairman and did not resign as head of the KGB until May 1982, when he was again promoted to the Secretariat to succeed Mikhail Suslov as secretary responsible for ideological affairs.

Two days after Leonid Brezhnev's death, on 12 November 1982, Andropov was elected General Secretary of the CPSU, the first former head of the KGB to become General Secretary. His appointment was received in the West with apprehension, in view of his roles in the KGB and in Hungary. At the time his personal background was a mystery in the West, with major newspapers printing detailed profiles of him that were inconsistent and in several cases fabricated. [41]

Andropov divided responsibilities in the Politburo with his chief deputy Konstantin Chernenko. Andropov took control of organizing the work of the Politburo, supervising national defense, supervising the main issues of domestic and foreign policy and foreign trade, and making leadership assignments in the top ranks of the Party and the government. Chernenko handled espionage, KGB, the Interior Ministry, party organs, ideology, and organizational matters, as well as propaganda, culture, science, and higher education. He was also given charge of the Central Committee. It was far too much for Chernenko to handle, and the other Politburo members were not given major assignments. [42]

Domestic policy Edit

Economy Edit

At home, Andropov attempted to improve the USSR's economy by increasing its workforce's efficiency. He cracked down on Soviet laborers' lack of discipline by decreeing the arrest of absentee employees and penalties for tardiness. [43] For the first time, the facts about economic stagnation and obstacles to scientific progress were made available to the public and open to criticism. [44] Furthermore, the KGB Chairman-turned-Gensek gave select industries greater autonomy from state regulations [45] and enabled factory managers to retain control over more of their profits. [46] Such policies resulted in a 4% rise in industrial output and increased investment in new technologies such as robotics. [47]

Despite such reforms, Andropov refused to consider any changes that sought to dispense with the command economy introduced under Joseph Stalin. In his memoirs, Mikhail Gorbachev recalled that when Andropov was the leader, Gorbachev and Nikolai Ryzhkov, the chairman of Gosplan, asked him for access to real budget figures. "You are asking too much," Andropov responded. "The budget is off limits to you." [48]

Anti-corruption campaign Edit

In contrast to Brezhnev's policy of avoiding conflicts and dismissals, he began to fight violations of party, state and labour discipline, which led to significant personnel changes during an anti-corruption campaign against many of Brezhnev's cronies. [7] During 15 months in office, Andropov dismissed 18 ministers and 37 first secretaries of obkoms, kraikoms and Central Committees of Communist Parties of Soviet Republics, and criminal cases against high level party and state officials were started. Biographers including Solovyov and Klepikova (1983) and Zhores Medvedev (1983) have discussed the complex possibilities underlying the motivations of anti-corruption campaigning in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and early 1980s: at the same time that it is true that Andropov fought corruption for moral, ethical, ascetic, and ideological reasons, it is also true that it was an effective way for party members from the police and security organizations to defeat competitors for power at the senior levels of the party. Thus Andropov himself, as well as his protégés including Eduard Shevardnadze, could advance their own power by the same efforts that also promised to be better for the country in terms of justice, economic performance, and even defense readiness (which depended on economic performance). Thus there was a certain inevitable amount of "what's better for the country also happens to align with what's best for my own power." It is not possible to measure the exact balance of self-interest versus selfless altruism and patriotism in this equation. Part of the complexity is that in the Brezhnev era, much corruption was implicitly tolerated and was pervasive (although officially denied), and many a member of the police and security organizations themselves participated in it to various degrees, but only those organizations had access to the power to measure it and monitor its details. In such an environment, anti-corruption campaigning is inherently a path by which police and security people have the potential or opportunity to appear to be white-hat heroes cleaning up the malfeasance of black-hat villains and 'coincidentally' increasing their own power, whereas there may be an underlying reality of one set of gray-hat antiheroes defeating another set of gray-hat antiheroes in a morally gray power struggle. This complex dynamic is perennial 21st-century anti-corruption campaigns are just as subject to its possibilities as were 20th-century instances.

Foreign policy Edit

Andropov faced a series of foreign policy crises: the hopeless situation of the Soviet army in Afghanistan, threatened revolt in Poland, growing animosity with China, the polarization threat of war in the Middle East, and the civil strife in Ethiopia and South Africa. The most critical threat was the "Second Cold War" launched by American President Ronald Reagan and a specific attack on rolling back what he denounced as the "Evil Empire". Reagan was using American economic power, and Soviet economic weakness, to escalate massive spending on the Cold War, emphasizing high technology that Moscow lacked. [49] The main response was raising the military budget to 70 percent of the total budget, and supplying billions of dollars worth of military aid to Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Yemen, the PLO, Cuba, and North Korea. That included tanks and armored troop carriers, hundreds of fighter planes, as well as anti-aircraft systems, artillery systems, and all sorts of high tech equipment for which the USSR was the main supplier for its allies. Andropov's main goal was to avoid an open war. [50] [51] [52]

In foreign policy, the conflict in Afghanistan continued even though Andropov, who now felt the invasion was a mistake, half-heartedly explored options for a negotiated withdrawal. Andropov's rule was also marked by deterioration of relations with the United States. During a much-publicized "walk in the woods" with Soviet dignitary Yuli Kvitsinsky, American diplomat Paul Nitze suggested a compromise for reducing nuclear missiles in Europe on both sides that was ultimately ignored by the Politburo. [53] Kvitsinsky would later write that, despite his own efforts, the Soviet leadership was not interested in compromise, instead calculating that peace movements in the West would force the Americans to capitulate. [54] On 8 March 1983, during Andropov's reign as General Secretary, U.S. President Ronald Reagan famously labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire". The same month, on 23 March, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. Reagan claimed this research program into ballistic missile defence would be "consistent with our obligations under the ABM Treaty". However, Andropov was dismissive of this claim, and said that "It is time they [Washington] stopped . search[ing] for the best ways of unleashing nuclear war. . Engaging in this is not just irresponsible. It is insane". [55]

In August 1983, Andropov made an announcement that the country was stopping all work on space-based weapons. One of his most notable acts during his short time as leader of the Soviet Union was in response to a letter from a 10-year-old American child from Maine named Samantha Smith, inviting her to the Soviet Union. She came, but he was too ill to meet with her, thus revealing his grave condition to the world. Meanwhile, Soviet–U.S. arms control talks on intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe were suspended by the Soviet Union in November 1983 and by the end of the year, the Soviets had broken off all arms control negotiations. [56]

Massive bad publicity worldwide came when Soviet fighters shot down a civilian jet liner, Korean Air Flight KAL-007, which carried 269 passengers and crew. It had strayed over the Soviet Union on 1 September 1983 on its scheduled route from Anchorage, Alaska, US to Seoul, South Korea. Andropov kept secret the fact that the Soviet Union held in its possession the black box from KAL 007 which proved the pilot had made a typographical error when entering data in the automatic pilot. Soviet air defence system was unprepared to deal with a civilian airliner, and the shooting down was a matter of following orders without question. [57] Instead of admitting an accident, Soviet media proclaimed a brave decision to meet a Western provocation. Together with the low credibility created by the poor explanation in 1986 of the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, the episode demonstrated an inability to deal with public relations crises the propaganda system was only useful for individuals and states that were aligned with the Soviet Union. Both crises were escalated by technological and organizational failures, compounded by human error. [58]

In February 1983, Andropov suffered total kidney failure. In August 1983, he entered the Central Clinical Hospital in western Moscow on a permanent basis, where he would spend the remainder of his life.

In late January 1984, Andropov's health deteriorated sharply and due to growing toxicity in his blood, he had periods of falling consciousness. He died on 9 February 1984 at 16:50 in his hospital room at age 69. [59] Few of the top Soviet leaders, not even all the Politburo members, learned of his death on that day. According to the Soviet post mortem medical report, Andropov suffered from several medical conditions: interstitial nephritis, nephrosclerosis, residual hypertension and diabetes, which were worsened by chronic kidney deficiency.

A four-day period of mourning across the Union was announced. He was honored with a state funeral on Red Square, in a service that was attended by numerous foreign leaders such as George H. W. Bush, [60] Margaret Thatcher, [61] Helmut Kohl, Sandro Pertini, Erich Honecker, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro, and Patrick Hillery. [62] Those giving eulogies were Chernenko, Ustinov, and Gromyko as well as Georgi Markov [63] (head of the Union of Soviet Writers), and Ivan Senkin (First Secretary of the Karelian Regional Committee of the CPSU). [64] He was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

Andropov was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko, who seemed to mirror Andropov's tenure. Chernenko had already been afflicted with severe health problems when he ascended to the USSR's top spot, and served an even shorter time in office (13 months). Like Andropov, Chernenko spent much of his time hospitalized, and also died in office, in March 1985.

Andropov lived at 26 Kutuzovsky Prospekt, the same building in which Suslov and Brezhnev also lived. [65] He was first married to Nina Ivanovna she was born not far from the local farm in which Andropov was born. In 1983, she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a successful operation. He met his second wife, Tatyana Filipovna, during World War II on the Karelian Front when she was Komsomol secretary. [ citation needed ] She had suffered a nervous breakdown during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Andropov's chief guard informed Tatyana about the death of her husband. She was too grief-stricken to join in the procession and during the funeral her relatives helped her to walk. Before the lid could be closed on Andropov's coffin, she bent to kiss him. She touched his hair and then kissed him again. In 1985, a respectful 75-minute film was broadcast in which Tatyana (not even seen in public until Andropov's funeral) reads love poems written by her husband. Tatyana became ill and died in November 1991. [ citation needed ]

Andropov's legacy remains the subject of much debate in Russia and elsewhere, both among scholars and in the popular media. He remains the focus of television documentaries and popular non-fiction, particularly around important anniversaries. As KGB head, Andropov was ruthless against dissent, and author David Remnick, who covered the Soviet Union for The Washington Post in the 1980s, called Andropov "profoundly corrupt, a beast". [66] Alexander Yakovlev, later an advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and the ideologist of perestroika, said: "In a way I always thought Andropov was the most dangerous of all of them, simply because he was smarter than the rest." [66] However, it was Andropov himself who recalled Yakovlev back to high office in Moscow in 1983 after a ten-year exile as ambassador to Canada after attacking Russian chauvinism. Yakovlev was also a close colleague of Andropov associate KGB General Yevgeny Primakov, later Prime Minister of Russia. Andropov began to follow a trend of replacing elderly officials with considerably younger replacements.

According to his former subordinate Securitate general Ion Mihai Pacepa,

In the West, if Andropov is remembered at all, it is for his brutal suppression of political dissidence at home and for his role in planning the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. By contrast, the leaders of the former Warsaw Pact intelligence community, when I was one of them, looked up to Andropov as the man who substituted the KGB for the Communist party in governing the Soviet Union, and who was the godfather of Russia's new era of deception operations aimed at improving the badly damaged image of Soviet rulers in the West. [67]

Despite Andropov's hard-line stance in Hungary and the numerous banishments and intrigues for which he was responsible during his long tenure as head of the KGB, he has become widely regarded by many commentators as a reformer, especially in comparison with the stagnation and corruption during the later years of his predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev. Andropov, "a throwback to a tradition of Leninist asceticism", [66] was appalled by the corruption during Brezhnev's regime, and ordered investigations and arrests of the most flagrant abusers. The investigations were so frightening that several members of Brezhnev's circle "shot, gassed or otherwise did away with themselves." [66] He was certainly generally regarded as inclined to more gradual and constructive reform than was Gorbachev most of the speculation centres around whether Andropov would have reformed the USSR in a manner which did not result in its eventual dissolution.

The Western media favored Andropov because of his supposed passion for Western music and scotch. [68] However, these were unproven rumors. The short time he spent as leader, much of it in a state of extreme ill health, leaves debaters few concrete indications as to the nature of any hypothetical extended rule. The 2002 Tom Clancy novel Red Rabbit focuses heavily on Andropov during his tenure of KGB chief, when his health is slightly better. It mirrors his secrecy in that British and American intelligence know little about him, not even able to confirm he was a married man. The novel also depicts Andropov as being a fan of Marlboros and starka vodka, almost never available to ordinary Soviet citizens.

In a message read out at the opening of a new exhibition dedicated to Andropov, Vladimir Putin called him "a man of talent with great abilities." [69] Putin has praised Andropov's "honesty and uprightness." [70] According to Russian historian Nikita Petrov, "He was a typical Soviet jailer who violated human rights. Andropov headed the organisation which persecuted the most remarkable people of our country." [71] From Petrov's point, it was a shame for the country that the persecutor of intelligentsia, the persecutor of freedom of thought, a man of whom as an oppressor of freedom legends were composed, became leader of the country. [72] According to Roy Medvedev, the year that Andropov spent in power was memorable for increasing repression against dissidents. [72] During most of his KGB career, Andropov crushed dissident movements, isolated people in psychiatric hospitals, sent them to prison and deported them from the Soviet Union. [73] According to political scientist Georgy Arbatov, Andropov bears responsibility for many injustices in the 1970s and early 1980s: for deportations, for political arrests, for persecuting dissidents, for the abuse of psychiatry, for notorious cases such as the persecution of academician Andrei Sakharov. [74] [75] According to Dmitri Volkogonov and Harold Shukman, it was Andropov who approved the numerous trials of human rights activists such as Andrei Amalrik, Vladimir Bukovsky, Viacheslav Chornovil, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Alexander Ginzburg, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Petro Grigorenko, Anatoly Sharansky, and others. [76]

According to Natalya Gorbanevskaya, after Andropov's coming to power the dissident movement went into decline – not of its own but because it was strangled. [77] In the late 1970s and early 1980s, repression was most severe, many people were picked up for a second time, and sentenced to longer terms. The camp regime was not strict but specific, and when Andropov became General Secretary, he introduced an Article under which violations of camp regime resulted in a punishment cell and an additional term up to three years. A person for his two or three remarks could be sent not home but to another camp with [non-political] criminals. [77] And in those years there were a lot of deaths in camps not from hunger-strikes, but just from disease and lack of medical care. [77]

Various people who closely knew Andropov, including Vladimir Medvedev, Aleksandr Chuchyalin, Vladimir Kryuchkov [78] and Roy Medvedev, remembered him for his politeness, calmness, unselfishness, patience, intelligence and exceptionally sharp memory. [79] According to Chuchyalin, while working at Kremlin Andropov would read ca. 600 pages per day and remember everything he had read. [80] Andropov read English literature and could communicate in Finnish, English and German. [81]

This Day in History: Apr 20, 1999: A massacre at Columbine High School

Two teenage gunmen kill 13 people in a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. At about 11:20 a.m., Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, dressed in long trench coats, began shooting students outside the school before moving inside to continue their rampage. By the time SWAT team officers finally entered the school at about 3:00 p.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 fellow students and a teacher, and had wounded another 23 people. Then, around noon, they turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide.

/>The awful crime captured the nation's attention, prompting an unprecedented search--much of it based on false information--for a scapegoat on whom to pin the blame. In the days immediately following the shootings, many claimed that Klebold and Harris purposely chose jocks, blacks, and Christians as their victims. In one particular instance, student Cassie Bernall was allegedly asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God. When Bernall said, "Yes," she was shot to death. Her parents later wrote a book entitled "She Said Yes," and toured the country, honoring their martyred daughter.

Apparently, however, the question was never actually posed to Bernall. In fact, it was asked of another student who had already been wounded by a gunshot. When that victim replied, "Yes," the shooter walked away. Subsequent investigations also determined that Klebold and Harris chose their victims completely at random. Their original plan was for two bombs to explode in the school's cafeteria, forcing the survivors outside and into their line of fire. When the homemade bombs didn't work, Klebold and Harris decided to go into the school to carry out their murderous rampage.

Commentators also railed against the so-called "Trench Coat Mafia" and "goths," and questioned why these groups and cliques were not monitored more closely. However, further investigation revealed that Klebold and Harris were not part of either group.

Columbine High School reopened in the fall of 1999, but the massacre left behind an unmistakable scar on the Littleton community. Mark Manes, the young man who sold a gun to Harris and bought him 100 rounds of ammunition the day before the murders, was sentenced to six years in prison. Carla Hochhalter, the mother of a student who was paralyzed in the attack, killed herself at a gun shop. Several other parents filed suit against the school and the police. Even Dylan Klebold's parents filed notice of their intent to sue, claiming that police should have stopped Harris earlier. A senior at Columbine was arrested after he threatened to "finish the job." And when a carpenter from Chicago erected 15 crosses in a local park on behalf of everyone who died on April 20, parents of the victims tore down the two in memory of Klebold and Harris.

In an effort to show the world "that life goes on," Columbine school board officials voted to replace the library where students were murdered with an atrium. The shootings at Columbine stood as the worst school shooting in U.S. history until April 16, 2007, when 32 people were shot and many others wounded by a student gunman on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Watch the video: May 25 this day in historyMemorial Day (August 2022).