Take Another Look at This Incredibly Detailed Soviet Map of Washington, D.C.
This story originally appeared on Aug. 21, 2016. This detailed map of Washington, D.C. was compiled by a secret Soviet map-making program during the Cold War. Wired published an amazing 6,000-word article on the topic, which you should read in full here. “The maps were part of one of the... Read more
Albania Has a Bunker Problem
Enver Hoxha was the dictator of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985. The most iconic legacy of his rule are strange little concrete domes. Under Hoxha’s direction, Albania built 750,000 of the bunkers to defend a country the size of Maryland. Even today the chunky mushrooms are... Read more
The High-Tech Toilet That Destroyed a Submarine
By World War II standards, the German Type VIIC submarine was an advanced hunter of the seas. But one unlucky vessel of its class, the U-1206, sank during its maiden combat voyage after its captain used its high-tech toilet improperly.  Yes, this really happened, and was an unexpected and tragic... Read more
The East German Death Strip Is Now a Beautiful Nature Reserve
The Iron Curtain divided Europe for more than 40 years and is one of history’s most iconic barriers. What began in 1945 as a simple barbed wire fence expanded throughout the Cold War to encompass a deep militarized zone extending kilometers from the actual border. The East German military heavily... Read more
France Has Cool World War II Forts
Ouvrage La Ferté is like a hobbit hole with machine guns. The subterranean fort’s galleries and tunnels sprawl out beneath a prominent hill on the French-German border near the town of Villy. Surviving armored mushroom turrets still poke out of the hill and offer a commanding view of the countryside. Ouvrage... Read more
Syrian Rebels Shift to Tunnel Warfare
On March 4 at 5:31 p.m., computer screens at the European Mediterranean Seismological Center lit up. A a 2.3-magnitude tremor had just rattled Aleppo in eastern Syria. But it wasn’t an earthquake. Rebel tunnelers had planted a huge stash of explosives under the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate headquarters.... Read more
The Soviets Trained to Fight Under Nuclear Detonations
On Sept. 14, 1954, 45,000 soldiers from the Soviet Army’s 270th Rifle Division and other units took shelter in trenches and bunkers as they waited for the order to advance. The 270th Rifles had fought at Stalingrad in 1942 and at Kursk in ’43. On this day, just north... Read more
Hitler’s Flak Towers Were Anti-Aircraft Castles
What happens when you combine Nazi propaganda, brutalist architecture and practical national security problems? You get chunky, concrete buildings that last for decades as symbols of war. Flak towers were one of the Third Reich’s answers to Allied air attacks during World War II. These absolutely massive towers sheltered... Read more
Congress Could Blow Billions on Obsolete Tactical Nukes
The B61 is an old bomb. It’s the United States’ primary — though obsolete—tactical nuclear weapon. First produced in 1968, the B61 has been in service a decade longer than originally planned. In December, the Senate passed the $557 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2015. For... Read more
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