In January 1952, the U.S. government’s civil defense branch publicly aired Duck and Cover in schools. The film, created a year before, was part of the government’s “duck and cover” campaign that reiterated the fact that nuclear war could happen at any moment and people needed to prepare themselves – especially children. The campaign (as well as other civil defense public awareness programs) began shortly after the Soviet Union began nuclear testing.
As allies only a few years early during World War II, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were now at a standoff. At the end of World War II, the U.S. held the power of nuclear weapons and the Soviets raced to achieve the weaponry as well. On September 23, 1949, President Truman notified the world that the Soviet Union had detonated their first nuclear device: “We have evidence that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the U.S.S.R.” The nuclear stage of the Cold War began.
The U.S. government warned the public of the possibility of a nuclear war. Survival was on the forefront of everyone’s minds. The “duck and cover” campaign was aimed at children as the best method of personal protection against a nuclear explosion. Schools around the country held drills in which children would have to stop everything and duck and cover their heads. In the film above, Bert the Turtle informs schoolchildren how to effectively duck and cover in any situation.