Cold War Personalities



Lester B. Pierson: 1897 -1972, Canadian (Liberal) politician and diplomat who served as prime minister of Canada (1963–68). He was prominent as a mediator in international disputes, and in 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his creation of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Egypt during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

John Diefenbaker

Throughout his term as Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker struggled to determine whether Canada should acquire nuclear weapons. Minister of Defence George Peakes recommended that Canada integrate its air defences with the United States in order to present a united front designed to protect both nations. The North American Aerospace Defence Command policy (NORAD) was approved by Diefenbaker in early 1957. Although NORAD represented a major defence commitment, the decision was made without discussion with Cabinet or the Defence Committee. 

United States of America





United Kingdom


North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/Warsaw Pact

Stanislav Petrov The Man Who Saved the World is a 2013 feature-length Danish documentary film by filmmaker Peter Anthony about Stanislav Petrov. On 26 September 1983, just three weeks after the Soviet military had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Lieutenant Colonel Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that five missiles had been launched from the United States. Petrov judged the reports to be a false alarm,and his decision is credited with having prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in large-scale nuclear war.

The result of Petrov’s decision for humanity was that life as we know it went on unabated. The result of Petrov’s decision on his military career was quite different.  His decision had brought to light problems in the Soviet early warning system and embarrassed his superiors.  He was denied promotions, reassigned and took early retirement.  The story was not even known outside the secretive world of the Soviet military until the late 1990s.

Federal Republic of Germany


Charles de Gaulle became the last President of the Fourth Republic. He was granted full powers and had a new Constitution drawn up. General de Gaulle presented the draft Constitution of the Fifth Republic to the people. The new Constitution was adopted by referendum.

France is one of the 12 founding members of NATO. It also hosted the first permanent headquarters in Paris in the 1950s and 60s. In 1966, France decided to withdraw from the Alliance’s integrated military command. That decision appears not to have undermined France’s commitment to the Alliance’s collective defence. According to the French the aim was to change the form of our Alliance without changing its substance. (After the Cold War and following the positive vote of the National Assembly, France officially announced its full participation in NATO military command structures at the Strasbourg / Kehl Summit in April 2009).