The Cold War

The confrontation

After 1945, the Soviets and the Americans sought to build a new world order to match their own values​​.

A pop corn machine and a neon advert in the West, a single-frequency radio and a Communist Party card in the East… An evocation of two worlds colliding, daily life and propaganda, but also protest and oppression.

Two Blocks, Two Worlds come face to face

After the Allied victory over Germany in 1945, the two superpowers of the time faced up to each other. On one side the American democracy and on the other, the Soviet empire.

The Cold War meant that the great alliance between the US and USSR was well and truly over. For over 40 years, two political systems, two very different conceptions of the world would clash, admittedly indirectly but always with the risk of triggering World War III, the threat of the atomic bomb remaining to hand.

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Daily life and propaganda

With extensive propaganda campaigns, both systems advocated the superiority of their political-economic model while slandering the other side.

After crossing the Hall, the first room on your right presents what daily life was like during the Cold War, revealing the cultural and ideological divide between the two blocks in more ways than one.

From an upside down Trabant and Lincoln Continental fixed to the ceiling, a cascade of objects ending in small showcased artefacts illustrates the consumer societies of the two systems from the 1950s to 70s on both sides. In the centre of these exhibits you can also watch propaganda films on suspended screens where each block boasts of the superiority of its own political and economic model while denigrating those of its opponent. Propaganda, counter propaganda… we’re right in the thick of the Cold War here.

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Denial and repression

In the West as in the East, protest movements erupted. Dissidents of the Soviet system suffered oppression and many were sent to the Gulag camps.

Enclosed behind black bars obliging the visitor to step closer, two display cases reveal the main protest movements at the heart of the two blocks.

On the West side, on the right, the threat of the Communist plot in the US sparked a full-blown witch hunt led by Senator McCarthy along with the rise in power of the CIA. Protest movements against the Vietnam War, hippie movements, student uprisings in the US and France multiplied, as evidenced by the riots of May 1968. Much of these events are described in this display.

On the left is a whole different reality, and one much more dramatic: dissidents wrote, published, sang and openly criticized the Soviet system, for which they were imprisoned or sent to gulags where they worked and often died. Personal affairs from gulag prisoners are presented here. In the Eastern Bloc, surveillance was pushed to the extreme as attested by items associated with the Stasi, the secret police of former East Germany.

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