Truth to Power

Planning Armageddon?

Rehearsing the end of the world

What was once the most secret of all British government documents has been released in full.

During the Cold War, civil servants used to rehearse the end of the world – what would happen if deterrence failed and nuclear war became inevitable.

The transition to war exercises took place every two years during the Cold War, and were an integral part of deterrence.

If the Soviet Union knew the West had very detailed plans to deal with nuclear war, the argument went, it would be less likely to attack.

The purpose was to test the government War Book. To see, for instance, if the plan gave the BBC enough notice to staff its wartime bunker, or if the plans to round up “subversives” were in the right order.

Parts of the War Book have been released before but this is the first time the whole document has been declassified.

Having the full War Book means it can be decoded to reveal what would happen and when. To get the nation from a peacetime to a wartime footing and beyond was a remarkable enterprise. </em>

Certainly nice to know these sort of things are being planned for, I guess?


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