tv Cold War Anti- Communist Trading Cards CSPAN March 24, 2022 10:32am-11:16am EDT
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the courts, campaigns and more, plus analysis of the world of politics with our informative podcasts. c pan now is available at the apple store and google play. download it for free today. c-span now, your front row seat to washington, any time, anywhere. >> thank you all for inviting me to talk about the fight the menace children's crusade against communism trading cards. these are some of my favorite teaching tools. at any level. and i really appreciate the support of the institute of american history and all of you. so thank you so much for having me. so i wanted to start with the box. because that's how the children would start. they would see the box of cards as they entered a typical store to buy trading cards.
children are often regarded as perhaps the most important, symbolic guarantee of a nature's future. we do need to study them. and these cards, indeed, draw on, reflect and foreshadow pekts of early cold war culture and even later periods and events and rhetoric. i look at the images first and then the text. and indeed the importance of the combination can be seen in an interview with a collector and someone who remembers the cards in his youth. he wrote if you showed that card ghost city, card 23, figure 2, which was to promote this talk f you showed that card to a kid in the '50s, they would probably say, yeah, that's what i dream
about at noigt. that's what i have nightmares about. so in 1951 the bowman company released a collectible card set sold with bubble gum. so the question is what are trading cards for those of us whoen don't know. a consumer object to be sold with a small produced item marketed to children and most of us know them as sports cards and the post war period after 1945, ass historians have studied consumerism, which was linked through much of american history with consumerism is tied with citizenship and in the cold war, particularly the rapidly growing realm of us is besh ya where
homeownership and aploinss, cars, are fridge raters, was a means of keeping up with the provsh y'all joness. the ability to buy and to choose what one pougt was also seen as an important facet of the american way of life. and of american superiority over the come annapolis. we see this again and again throughout cultural history in the cold war. the cards were sold as a popular children's commodity, which draws them into this form of citizenship. the fight the red menace cards feature full-color images with even numbered cards depicting people and events linked to the united states and odd numbered cards showing red or communist activities. each card is numbered and titled and carries a short paragraph of text relating to the image on
the card. above the copyright information at the pot of the card is written fight the red menace. it was in navy blue because the united states represented by blue is fugting and red me nance in red. the red and white stars on the box are repeated alongside the text and the first words on the first card reds invade south korea explain the red star of communism and the white star of democracy are life or deal struggle around the world. there's a heavy emphasis on korea because of the korean war, which will go into earlierier that began in 1950. the themes include western military heroes, communist leaders, common people, military hardware, the geology if i of
the cold war, or how the cold war can become hot. atomic war, race and the united nations and it includes pictures in text. but unlike disney as we'll see or cartoons like duck and cover that teach children how to survive nuclear attacks, these cards were dark. and analysis becomes keen to understanding the promise and threat of the cold war. as historians, we can use tactics from material culture, art history, history, history of the cold war, childhood, the senses, propaganda, in addition to all the topics that are mentioned on the cards themselves. the bowman company intimated that the cards were intended to be educational. quote, we decided the children
would be interested in anticommunist series and we think it is good for them. we tried to tell the children the difference between our way of life and the communist way by putting out a series of 48 cards they said. the claim to having educational goals is supported by the fact an earlier set of cards called the horrors of war was similar themes was created in the belief that with similar themes was created with the belief that through the cards could be directed a favorable attitude interestingly towards peace. and i show here the fight the red me nance gum wrapper. so we start out with cold war and containment. this is an early picture of true truman with churchill and stalin, the world leaders at the global leaders at this point and
looking pretty happy at end of the war, although we knew trouble was browing certainly before the end of the war. george ken wrote the long telegram, a famous document studied and is worth studying many times over and he wrote it from russia and it's called long, the long telegram because it's very long for a telegram. spanning soviet culture and other issues, it became the basis for the containment theory. in other words, if you contained the soviet union because of the nature of the people, inteed, the entire culture and political system would implode. so it was known as the containment theory. however, if we read the document, there's lots of
information about culture, about people and about the threats to americans via women, religious organizations, labor unit yorngs all of which we see in these cards. so truman articulated what was called the truman doctrine, which is key -- it was the duty of the united states to uphold global freedom and that communism must be contained. national security depends on nuclear power, a strong military and civilian preparedness to mobilize the defense of peace. and in 1950, he initiated the federal civil defense administration, which was charged with creating a national
civil defense program and the first director spoke enthusiastically of a new home front for the cold war, propelled by a growing consciousness of the need for civil defense. message of the early fcda propaganda proved relatively simple. if americans embraced the concept of civil defense, they could survive a nuclear war. while the u.s. military experimented with a variety of indoctrinization projects to sculpt the perfect soldier, the fdca arrived at this for the civilians. the organization launched a range of leaflets, tours, short films, hoping to mold the civilian into a new theater of conflict. but it was operating within a con strained budget as things often are in the united states. so in order to sell to civil defense to the u.s., the fcda
used partnerships with corporations. and increasingly turned to corporate alliances such as these. and it used a strategy of cooperative promotion in quotes. so in this, the director of the organization added that we are grateful for the wholehearted cooperation and support of the many private industries, associations and institutes. for example, the box let survival under atomic attack in 1951 concurrent with the launch of the bowman cards preached, you can survive, high loigting your chances of making a complete recovery from an atomic attack are much the same as for everyday accidents.
another thing that was important about the long telegraph and this theory of containment was the idea of religious cold war. the soviet atheists were versus the religious and righteous americans. and indeed truman said in our quest for righteousness, we must put on the armor of god. and so there was a religious bent to this cold war and the containment theory. in 1947 we have the berlin air lift, and we have here 1947 milk
becomes a new weapon of democracy. and here we see children overcoming very important in this cold war fight. and indeed the famous candy bomber. as the soviets cut off food and supplies to west berlin, a cold war hot spot, the united states along wits allies brought in food and supplies on airplanes. and one of the pilots decided to put parachutes on hershey candy bars. the children waited for the plane to come through to receive the candy bars. but of course, with russia having the atomic bomb so much changes and these programs of
indockization and the idea of atomic war becomes more and more prevalent and important. with the korean war, of course, this all comes to the fore because the cold war has become hot. going back to this idea of the cold war potentially becoming hot globally, but also feeding into the important theme of the religious cold war, we have the launching of a private initiative and private is in quotes, called the crusade for freedom. and it was known as a private organization, although it was heavily funded by the newly established central intelligence agency.
and dwight d. eisenhower, who was then known as the famous general for world war ii and was not yet president, he launched a campaign to raise funds for radio programming, books and other projects to fight the big lie of soviet communism with the big truth brought by america in eastern europe under the banner, the crusade for freedom. although heavily subjectstized by the central intelligence agent us is, it was billed as sponsored by private american citizens. and much like a religious crusade, the idea was this propaganda that's funded by the american people with men saying, sure, i want i want to fight communism, but how. and being encouraged to have meatless dinners in order to
give their grocery money to the crusade for freedom. it was heavily subsidized by the government. here we have other advertisements bringing in the religious give us this day or daily truth. the crusade for freedom funded radio for europe and radio liberty. which blasted programming from news to jazz into soviet blocked countries and russia. and also the boy scouts got very much involved signing and others as well, signing freedom scrolls and the like which we can see on the page to the right. familiar figures wonder through the crusade for freedom advertisements, including
another future president ronald reagan. if you go to youtube and this is included in some of the resources that i have supplied, you can see his television spot asking people to donate to the crusade for freedom. and here are examples of billboards, postcards, fight communism with truth dollars and with truth dollars, one penny would buy one minute of radio truth. they had little envelopes that you can see at the bottom of the screen where you can put your truth dollar and send it off. stamps and the promotional activities were many. and this highlights this cooperation of the fdca between government and private corporations and private foundations, some of which were not so private.
included in the promotional activities of the crusade for freedom was a wonderful tour of the liberty bell, which arrived in berlin as we recall the site of the we recall the site of the berlin airlift, and hundreds of children donated pennies in order to send the liberty bell to their cohort across the sea, the children of germany and berlin -- west germany and berlin, west berlin. and the other thing the crusade for freedom did was launched balloons and the balloons were filled with many things and there were many ideas of what could go into the balloons, and leaflets carried political messages and american foods could be put in the balloons and dropped although 14 pounds of
food might not be a good idea, and bibles were put in the balloons, and many things were put in the balloons and launched to germany and they would float given the weather pattern in the soviet block areas and distribute. these balloon campaigns were heavily supported by boy scouts and the children and the population in america, and here we see examples of a freedom balloon and -- two different types of freedom balloons that would district items in eastern europe, and this happens to be in colorado. one of the most important things with the atomic explosion was this idea of fear and fear
management. one historian writes, getting them accustomed to horrible sights would keep them from screaming when the bombs came, and while too little would fail to stir the appear thetic. the fdca thought without an american experience of anatomic attack, there had to be a vivid but not horrific snapshot of what one would look like in a nuclear attack, so there was a thing called operation q which came later where private corporations worked with the
government to develop a town outside of las vegas, nevada, and it included mannequins, household items, jc penny, kitchens, food, and alike, and then they blew up the town and showed pictures, and jcpenney used it in advertising campaigns to show that, indeed, clothing and other items can survive a nuclear bomb and pictures like this were distributed. also these ideas were distributed to children, famously the duck and cover video which is in your wrist of resources, and a turtle hums and sings about the coming of the bomb. children are taught to duck and
cover under their desks, and adults are to duck and cover, and women are to seek male help in order to duck and cover. the other thing marketed towards children were cereals, comic books and the like, and this is from the national museum of testing, which you should go and see if you are ever in las vegas. this is -- this is kind of a smattering of the many different items they have there, and this is, to me, very interesting, this kix cereal. you literally woke up in the morning to the bomb, and this is the box of cereal. indeed, the kix cereal came if you sent box tops and pennies, you could get a toy from the -- from eating enough of the kix
cereal. when you received the atom -- the nuclear bomb ring, the picture is on the slide, in the male, you could make it explode somehow. the company advertised you will see brilliant flashes of light, and these flashes are caused by the release of atoms, and it's perfectly safe, and we guarantee you could wear the atopic ring with complete safety, and the materials inside the ring are harmless. again, this is making -- literally bringing the bomb into the home first thing for breakfast. there were also acomic fireball candies, and a sweet treat, and
atomic toys. this is an energy lab and it came with four types of uranium, and also other tools for the enterprising young boy to play with nuclear energy. what about girls? this tended to be more and more of what girls were taught to do. obviously the kitchen, going to nixon to the famous kitchen debate, which is the talk of other talks. this is a girl using technology, she's on the phone. there was an idea that girls could be scientists and certainly nurses, but this was more likely what you find, what you were going to find as a promotional advertisement for a
girl's toys. indeed this fits right in with the fcda, which promoted that a domestic threat was essentially one of many household hazards that suburban housewives could deal with, and famous for optimistic speeches, katherine howard, a woman worth studying who is often forgotten in history, she promoted the housewife as home makers of the land and saviors of the nation, and keeping the house clean and tidy served as a way of burning it down in the event of nuclear explosion. this continued to go into technology. by 1962, the house of the future
featured an atoms for kitchen living complete with a microwave and ultrasonic diswasher, and if the woman took care of the woman, she could save the nation. here for both men -- both, young men and young women and also their parents, disney and the cold war, although later on disney made some promotional films about the atom. this is concurrent with the bowman trading cards. again, i have left the link to this cartoon in your resources. this is a cartoon called "cold war with goofy," and he's with his own home atomic bomb which
is actually a potential solution for his cold. the trading cards, what are they? they are a group activity but they are also individualistic. they include the all-important sweet treat and embed the idea of religion with in god we trust, which becomes an american motto. the first thing the boys would do is go into the local candy shop, which i recall it looked something like this, and the game opening was you buy the cards and trade on your fortune, and you go in and buy your box of cards and you open them up and you get a range of cards. you don't get them all. you get a few. what the card company would do
is print more of one and fewer than the other, and the idea is you are supposed to collect all 48, and you only got a select number in your box with your piece of gum. there was a chance, you started out you get what you get when you are born, and you can make your fortune -- you can collect all 48 if you trade well with your friends. then you would sit down with your friends who also bought the cards and you would start to trade. you would build on your community and take the crusader pledge, which was on the outside of the box, and you would say i believe in god and the god-given freedom of man. i believe in the united states of america and the united nations. i believe in government of the people by the people and for the people. i am against any system that enslaves man and makes them merely tools of the state. i pray they may be delivered
from oppression. i pledge my faith, loyalty and devotion to the cause of freedom for all mankind. so in this pledge we see many themes from the cold war that were established and will play out. the united nations was very important in the korean war because in theory it was the united nations that waged war to fight -- to fight communism and support democracy, not the united states. and by the people and for the people, a familiar phrase. the idea of enslavement and a system that makes people tools of the state. this is obviously important because here you are trading as a free person, setting the mark
deciding if 2 of 1 card is worth card 48, and you are free to make your deck. i pray that they may be delivered from oppression. in other words, it's not the people of the soviet union who are bad or evil, it's the leaders. again, this is the entire theme of containment. if you understand the russian people and you understand the culture, you'll understand this is a bad system. the people will rebel if you just contain them. so this is all just in this one -- you haven't even opened the box at this point. the topics that i go through that i noticed on the cards obviously korea. other themes that i identified and literally you could jiggle
and juggle themes of these 48 cards however you wished, but this is -- i saw specific categories. military hardware was a theme. obviously atomic warfare, and geography in the cold war. if the cold war turned hot in korea, we're next. berlin, which we saw from the berlin airlift, is it a city or a country or? biography. we have big man, american history. behind the iron curtain, common people -- and drawing a new curtain, who are those leaders that are going to make communism in other countries? workers, african american, it was a huge issue given the constant trope of slavery.
then the common woman, man and child. this is the three cards i identified as specifically relating to korea. we see the important idea that the forces were from the united nations and we see men on the battlefield and specific battles that the -- that people could learn from. the idea was that you would say if you had card 32, u.n. counter attack, and you had two of those, but you really wanted bridging a stream under fire, you would say to your friend, you know, i'll give you my u.n. counter attack if you give me bridging a stream under fire, or number eight. the idea is you see these cards and you experience them and pass
them hand to hand, you're going to read the text at some point, probably, but you are certainly going to look at these very draw -- dramatic, and quite frightening as the interviewer said nightmarish pictures of war, and in theory edging people towards creating peace. military hardware was one of the biggest themes. you know, this was kind of a -- in order to engage young minds with the idea of technology, with might, with power and the like. atomic warfare, we saw this card earlier as the advertisement for this talk.
this city picture is the idea of what an atom bomb could do to a city, and if we see pictures of hiroshima, it would look worse than this. we are growing stronger by realizing this could happen to us. we are working to make america stronger day by day and week by week and we must continue to work for peace through the united nations in every possible way, and america is fully prepared to defend itself, and america fully prepared to defend itself is not likely to be attacked. here we are doing our part in the apocalypse -- this is part of the atomic subject, and here we have every man fighting the war. geography is important, and many people think of the cold war between the soviet union and the united states, and even in 1951
to the creators of cards for children, they knew that this was very much a global cold war. of course we have what were referred to -- came to be referred to as the domino nations which were in asia if one nation fell, all others would, and if this was the idea of korea, there goes japan and all the rest. there are other cards here that we must pay attention to. greece, turkey, alaska, the netherlands, finland, so it's a geography lesson. the one continent not covered is africa, and we could ask, why these countries? i had a student write the entire term paper on the master's level about the finland card, only the
finland card. we can also ask what is not there? so african nations in the middle east are clearly absent. berlin is an important thing to look at. berlin was divided at the end of the war into east and west. it became known as the hot spot, the cold war hot spot. as we saw with the berlin airlift was becoming increasingly important, and, indeed, that is where the wall went up and became the staging ground for many standoffs. here's the berlin airlift card. we see here, different pictures, and bringing children food and other commodities. there's the idea of kidnapping,
people against their will were brought to berlin to the east, and biography is a big topic. this is big-man history. we have eisenhower in the right who will become president, but many others you can learn about, and these are the american leaders, and we also have the war heroes, and i call this, it could be you, generals on the ground and the every man soldier. we also have the martyrs behind the iron curtain, a very important case that highlighted the oppression of religious freedom and also got into the idea of a psychological warfare and brain manipulation and drugging of people to make false
confessions. here, the men who make iron curtains, this is the one big man, the war maker who is ghoulish and green. workers are a very important theme because workers in the soviet union are depicted as slaves. they don't get to have the fruits of their own labor. they can't earn money. the state directs their work. here is a fascinating card on african americans that is -- that somebody can easily write an entire paper on this and there are people who have written papers on the idea of race, not only with the idea of
african americans in this card but how race is depicted in other cards. this is the common man, woman and child. as we see the common man is threatened and kidnapped in berlin and visited by the red police. if you look at the back sign, this turns out to be hungry although you would not know that unless you new hungarian, and the women and children, indeed -- i picked this card to look at more closely because it's the only card that features women and children, and it's the only card in a trading deck -- in a trading game for boys that features women. the other card about nuclear armageddon has women in it, but a man is in the foreground. so here we are, the women -- the
koreans fleeing from the chinese reds, and the soviets braved the ocean in small ships to get to america, and they are celebrated in this. isn't that an interesting thing to consider in today's world? for in america a man may choose his work and his friends. in other words, they are getting on boats, as they should, to get away from communist. he enjoys freedom of speech and worship -- again, religion. he can come and go as he likes. americans will never exchange their freedom for red slavery. how does this idea of red slavery speak to the card on slave labor. again, we are not going back to that card on african americans, because that was the achilles' heel of the united states, but here the slave laborers are
soviet citizens. what is very interesting about this card is this is where i go down what we call the proverbial rabbit hole of research. if we review the card, in parenthesis, they are forced to do slave labor, if your parents want more information about this they can find it in the september bulletin which is the united states government publication. the bowman trading card is working with the state department to educate -- to educate america on the goings on, and indeed what one can do is search on the internet for the department of state bulletin, which can be found, and read september 25th, 1950,
and see what parents would learn about which is this idea of slave labor as put forth as a u.n. resolution that every man should work for his own wages, that he and she should have freedom and this bulletin goes on and on. it encompasses a truly global war in its reach with the united nations. i have to give a big shot out to david lambbert who is the archivist at the state department, and i went around looking on the national archives website, and i e-mailed the national archives and he e-mailed back in hours with a link to all the department of
state bulletins, which are a fascinating study within themselves, and a record group he had found. indeed there are files on all the companies who in the early '50s cooperated with the united states government in these projects, and there is a box to be seen in washington -- or in college park, maryland, where the national archives sit once covid ends, but there's a box entitled bowman trading cards in the national archives. so much work to be done. there are a lot of places to get political information, but only at c-span do you get it straight from the source. no matter where you are from or where you stand on the issues, c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiassed, word for