On this day in 1989, the East German Communist Party opened the Berlin Wall, allowing citizens of East Berlin to freely cross the border that had separated East and West Berlin since the wall went up in 1961. That night, crowds swarmed the wall and some, armed with picks and hammers, began to dismantle the wall, which had stood as the most powerful symbol of the Cold War.
In 1989 several eastern European nations of the Soviet Union carried out successful anti-Communist revolutions, winning greater autonomy and the right to hold multiparty elections. By December 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist and the Cold War was officially over (1).
The term “Cold War” was coined on April 16, 1947, when Bernard Baruch, advisor to presidents on economic and foreign policy, used the term in an address he gave to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Invited to speak in his home state, Baruch selected the topic of the struggle between the two post-World War II superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union:
Let us not be deceived, we are today in the midst of a cold war. Our enemies are to be found abroad and at home. Let us never forget this: Our unrest is the heart of their success. The peace of the world is the hope and the goal of our political system.; it is the despair and defeat of those who stand against us. We can depend only on ourselves. (2)
Baruch’s term stuck as an apt description of the hostilities between the West and the East that spawned a nuclear arms race but fell short of armed conflict. Below are other words and terms that became a part of the Cold War lexicon, according to the book Twentieth Century Words (3):
Atom Bomb (1945)
fall out (1950)
conventional weapons (1955)
Warsaw Pact (1955)
mushroom cloud (1958)
Hot and Cold Running Idioms
Below are descriptions of expressions that contain either the word hot or cold. Given the number of words in each expression along with a description, see if you can name the phrase:
- Four words: Newly printed; sensational and exciting.
- Two words: Immediate, complete withdrawal from something, especially an addictive substance.
- Two words: Trouble or difficulty.
- Two words: Retreat from an undertaking; lose one’s nerve.
- Two words: Deliberate disregard, slight, or snub.
- Four words: Extremely angry.
- Four words: In a position of extreme stress, as when subjected to harsh criticism.
- Five words: To cause one to shiver from fright or horror. (4)
Today’s Challenge: Hot Potatoes and Cold Turkey
What words, phrases, or titles come to mind when you hear the word “hot” or “cold”? Brainstorm a list of words, phrases, or titles (songs, movies, or books) that you associate with either “hot” or “cold.” Try to generate at least 20 ideas. Then, select the one idea that sparks a writing idea, and write a poem, story, or essay on your idea. Use the word “hot” or “cold” in your title. (Common Core Writing 2 and 3 – Expository and Narrative)
Answers: 1. Hot off the presses 2. Cold turkey 3. Hot water 4. Cold feet 5. cold shoulder 6. Hot under the collar 7. In the hot seat 8. Make one’s blood run cold.
1-Atomic Archive.com. Cold War: A Brief History 2015. http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page22.shtml.
2-History.com. Bernard Baruch Coins the Term ‘Cold War.’ http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/bernard-baruch-coins-the-term-cold-war.
3- Ayto, John. Twentieth Century Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
4 – Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.