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A 1942 Map of the New World Order
The map on the bedroom wall of every teenage Bilderberger
Published in Philadelphia in early 1942, this ‘Outline of (the) Post-War New World Map’, created by Maurice Gomberg, shows a proposal to re-arrange the world after an Allied victory against the Axis forces. Its title refers to a ‘New World Order’, a vague concept, its many definitions often contradicting each other. At the core of the NWO, however, is always the notion that a small group of powerful individuals, institutions, industries and/or nations must lead the world in the right direction (i.e. towards ‘unification’). This may be against the world’s own will (and therefore done covertly, at least in some versions of the NWO-story), but ultimately it is for its own good.
President George Bush Sr explicitly used the NWO to refer to U.S. objectives in a Post-Cold War world. The term has a pedigree much older than the Cold War, or even both World Wars. Some might even say – and now we’re straying somewhat prematurely into the field of conspiracy theory – that it goes all the way back to Roman times, as is attested by the (modified) quote of the Roman poet Virgil on the revers of the US Great Seal and (significantly or not, since 1935) on the back of the dollar bill: Novus Ordo Seclorum – literally: ‘A New Order for the Ages’.
In a modern context, it was the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes (who gave his name to Rhodesia, and the the Rhodes scholarship, of which one Bill Clinton was a recipient) who first proposed a federal world government to be imposed by the US and the British Empire. US President Woodrow Wilson was inspired by a similar concept to draw up his plans for a League of Nations in the aftermath of World War I. Most fascist regimes in the 20s, 30s and 40s of the twentieth century also proposed some sort of NWO – in fact, most styled themselves to be a ‘New Order’. H.G. Wells – he of ‘War of the Worlds’ – wrote ‘The Open Conspiracy’ (1928) in which he describes his efforts to get intellectuals to back the idea of a World Social Democracy and ‘The New World Order’ (1940), in which he details how a generation of struggle will be necessary to overcome the opponents of such a global government.
From this sketchy overview, it might be equally sketchily concluded that One World Government was the mostly benevolent projected outcome of an optimist, positivist, socialist and/or imperialist (or in some cases, national-socialist) world view, a kind of secular New Jerusalem, the best of all possible worlds. The death of communism, which as an ideal expired much earlier than its empire, can be seen as the ultimate argument against this philosophy. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it share that resource equally with the other horses. The philosophy of man is not: work as much as you can, consume as much as you need, but: work as little as you need to, consume as much as you can. Karl Marx defeated by Gordon Gekko.
And yet, optimism persists – for what else can it do? In the face of continuing efforts to better the world, to ‘unify’ it, opposition to NWO-like groups, institutions and intentions have coalesced into a myriad of theories, most of which are of a conspirational nature (I would say that, wouldn’t I), all of which fly the flag of freedom (for the secular-minded) or religion (for those who suspect the End Times are brought nearer every time the UN votes a resolution). This is where an overview has to limit itself to naming some of the many conspirational configurations suspected to be secretly running the New World Order. Pick and mix, and create your own conspiracy: the Illuminati, the freemasons, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Jews, the Bilderberg Group, the G-8, the Nazis, the Bretton-Woods agreement, black helicopters, US-alien collusion, the Zionist lobby in cahoots with American Neo-Cons, those out to ‘miscegenate’ and dilute the white race, the House of Windsor, the Antichrist, the one-percenters, a cabal of multinational corporations, extraterrestrial reptilians, the United Nations.
Maurice Gomberg, of whom next to no information is traceable online, may have been an extraterrestrial reptilian, but his Jewish surname makes him at least as suspect in some circles. So little is known of him that it has even been suggested that this map was a Nazi forgery*, to induce fear in America of a communist takeover of the world. But it might be safer to assume that this map was an earnest attempt, out of the aforementioned benevolent socialist sentiments, to propose a reorganisation of the world that would end war once and for all, and bring “permanent peace, freedom, justice, security and world reconstruction”. Or at least let that, in the name of Occam’s razor, be our working assumption in evaluating this map. The main building blocks of his New World Order were to be:
Smaller entities include Eire (the whole of Ireland), Greece (including Albania), Turkey (excluding European Turkey), Hebrewland (the Holy Land plus Jordan) and Japan. The three axis states (Germany, Italy and Japan) were to be ‘quarantained’ until they could be readmitted in the family of nations.
Mr Gomberg possibly took his cue for this map from US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose speech about Four Freedoms and a Moral Order (from his State of the Union to the 77-th Congress) he quotes, before outlining his own vision (at the bottom of the map):
“As the USA with the cooperation of the Democracies of Latin-America, the British Commonwealth of Nations and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, assumes world leadership for the establishment of a New World Moral Order for permanent peace, justice, security and world reconstruction.”
“OUR POLICY SHALL BE THIS:
1. We, the U.S.A., in cooperation with our allies, for reasons of our national safety and in the interests of international morality, are determined to crush and completely destroy the military power of the Axis aggressors, and their satellites regardless of cost, effort and time necessary to accomplish this task.
2. The old world order of colonial oppression, exploitation of dominions, rival imperialism and mercenary balance of power diplomacy; of majesties, dictators, privileged minorities, plutocratic monopolists and similar social parasites; the corrupted order responsible for the present world cataclysm, endangering our national safety and peaceful process, shall never rise again.
3. A New World Moral Order for permanent peace and freedom shall be established at the successful conclusion of the present war.
4. For reasons of history, economic structure, favorable geography and the welfare of mankind, the U.S.A. must, altruistically, assume the leadership of the newly established, democratic world order.
5. To reduce the burden and criminal waste of armaments expenditures everywhere in the world, the U.S.A., with the cooperation of Latin-America, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the U.S.S.R. shall undertake to guarantee peace to the nations which will be permanently disarmed and demilitarized after the conclusion of the present war.
6. In order to be able, in the fulfillment of our obligations, to effectively prevent the possibility of a recurrence of another world cataclysm, the invincibility of the U.S.A. as a military, naval and air power, shall be the major prerequisite.
7. For realistic considerations of strategy and our invulnerability, it is imperative that the U.S.A. shall obtain relinquishment of controls of their possessions from all foreign Powers in the entire Western Hemisphere, it’s surrounding waters and strategic island outposts as outlined on accompanying map.
8. For considerations of hemispheric defense and in the spirit and tradition of the new Monroe Doctrine of hemispheric solidarity and the “Good Neighbor” policy, the U.S.A. with the consent of the Latin-American Republics, shall obtain control and protectorate rights of the relinquished territories.
9. To strengthen our position in the Caribbean area which is of obvious importance to hemispheric defense, all possible inducements shall be offered to our neighbors of Central America and the West Indies to facilitate their entrance as equal states of the U.S.A. as outlined on map.
10. To fortify the politico-economic unity of the Western Hemisphere, the U.S.A. shall promote and assist the unification of South America into a well organized, democratic, federated “United States of South America.”
11. The liberated British, French and Netherlands Guiana shall be reorganized as one state of the U.S.S.A.
12. All Powers shall relinquish their controls of their colonial, mandate and strategic island possessions everywhere in the world.
13. The British Commonwealth of Nations, the second military and naval Power of importance cooperating in a binding compact with the U.S.A. as a Power for freedom, shall retain and acquire control such territories, peace-security bases and strategic islands outposts essential for the maintenance of world peace and freedom as outlines on the map.
14. The U.S.S.R., the third military Power of importance cooperating with the U.S.A. as a Power for freedom and the maintenance of world peace, shall acquire control of the liberated, disorganized adjacent areas and those of Germany-Austria to be re-educated and eventually incorporated as equal republics of the U.S.S.R., as approximately outlined on map.
15. A world League of Nationalities with arbitration and supervision powers shall be organized.
16. A World Court with punitive powers of absolute boycott, quarantine, blockade and occupation by international police, against lawbreakers of international morality shall be organized.
17. The U.S.A. with the close cooperation of the United States of South America, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the U.S.S.R. and the World League of Nationalities, shall promote and assist in the unification of the relinquished territories and the areas at present unsoundly divided into well organized democratic and absolutely demilitarized republics as approximately on the map.
18. The areas known as Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, the island of Corsica, and eventually Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United States of Europe.”
19. The areas known as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Spitsbergen islands shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United States of Scandinavia.”
20. The continent of Africa shall be reorganized and unified as a demilitarized, federated “Union of African Republics.”
21. The areas of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Hejas, Aden and Oman, shall be unified as a demilitarized union of “Arabian Federated Republics.”
22. The areas known as India, including Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma shall be unified as a demilitarized “federated Republics of India.”
23. The areas known as China, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Malaya, Indo-China and Korea, shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United Republics of China.”
24. The areas known as Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Crete, Dodecanese and adjacent islands in the Aegean sea shall be unified as a demilitarized “Federal Republic of Greece.”
25. The areas known as Eire and Northern Ireland shall be unified as a demilitarized independent republic of “Eire.”
26. The area of the Holy Land of the ancient Hebrews, at present known as Palestine and Trans-Jordan, and the adjacent requisite regions as outlined on map, for considerations of history and the imperative necessity to alleviate a post war refugee problem, shall be unified as a demilitarized republic of “Hebrewland.”
27. The area known as European Turkey, adjacent to the Dardanelles, sea of Marmora and Bosporus, for considerations of realistic peace strategy shall be placed under joint control of the U.S.S.R. and Turkey.
28. The area known as Turkey shall be a demilitarized independent republic of “Turkey.”
29. All problems of exchange, transfer and repatriation of populations shall be administered by the World League of Nationalities.
30. The criminal perpetrators and their partners in guilt of this hideous war shall be brought to justice and unforgettable punishment administered.
31. All subjects of Japan and all persons of Japanese origin of doubtful loyalty shall be expelled from the entire Western Hemisphere, U.S.A. protectorates and strategic island outposts and their property confiscated for post-war reconstruction needs.
32. All subjects of Germany and Italy and all persons of German and Italian origin known as active supporters of Nazi and fascist ideologies shall be treated similarly.
33. German, Italian, Japanese immigration to the Western Hemisphere, its protectorates and island outposts shall be indefinitely stopped.
34. All persons of German origin in East Prussia and the Rhineland shall be transferred to inner Germany and the regions permanently de-Prussianized.
35. All persons of German, Italian and Japanese origin shall be permanently expelled from their now conquered territories and their property confiscated for post-war construction needs.
36. To cleanse the populations of the defeated Axis aggressors of the intoxication of military chauvinism; to effectuate the removal and destruction of their potential military establishments; to recover the accumulated loot and to re-educate them for their eventual membership in the Family of Nations, the areas of Germany-Austria, Italy and Japan shall be hermetically and indefinitely quarantined and administered by appointed Governors subject to supervision by the world League of Nationalities.
37. All resources, industrial and labor capacity of quarantined areas shall be employed for the post war restoration and reconstruction needs.
38. To reduce the numerical power of the aggressor nations, as a potential military advantage, a Population Control Policy shall be elaborated and applied in the quarantined area.
39. In the New World Moral Order which we seek to establish, besides the essential political freedoms, the following fundamental economic changes are imperative:
(a) Nationalization of all natural resources and equitable distribution of same to all nations…everywhere in the world;
(b) Nationalization of international banking, foreign investments, railroads and power plants….everywhere in the world;
(c) Nationalization of all armaments producing establishments by all military powers;
(d) Federal control of foreign commerce and shipping;
(e) The establishment of a world common monetary system;
(f) World wide limitations of interest rates to a maximum of two percent;
40. To retain the victory and leadership of our united democratic effort….the aim of which is not vengeance or exploitation, but freedom and security to all nations for peaceful progress….the unified “Supreme War Command of the United Nations” at the conclusion of the present war, shall be recognized and transformed into a permanent “Supreme Military and Economic Council” collaborating with the World League of Nationalities in post war construction and to enforce world peace.
41. The “Supreme Military and Economic Council” shall appoint the Governors to administer the quarantined areas until their eventual parole.
For this purposeful beginning we must fight until absolute victory.”
Many thanks to the many people who alerted me to this map, including Jack Alexander, David McClelland, Ilya Vinarski, Joel Thibault, Richard Stokes, Goran Zec, Sam Cicero (great name, that), Scott, Brian Truebe, Felix Hippmann, Sam Brodey, Bob G (the Bobbie Gee?) and jfrantz.
Strange Maps #286
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
* A genuine example of a map forged by the Nazis forged for propaganda purposes is this map of South America (#250). A genuine map, drawn up by an American Jew and twisted around by the Nazis for propaganda purposes is one of an ‘extinguished’ Germany (#50).
Evolution proves to be just about as ingenious as Nikola Tesla
- For the first time, scientists developed 3D scans of shark intestines to learn how they digest what they eat.
- The scans reveal an intestinal structure that looks awfully familiar — it looks like a Tesla valve.
- The structure may allow sharks to better survive long breaks between feasts.
Considering how much sharks are feared by humans, it is a bit of a surprise that scientists don't know much about the predators. For example, until recently, sharks were thought to be solitary creatures searching the seas for food on their own. Now it appears that some sharks are quite social.
Another mystery is how these prehistoric swimming and eating machines digest food. Although scientists have made 2D sketches of captured sharks' digestive systems based on dissections, there is a limit to what can be learned in this way. Professor Adam Summers at University of Washington's Friday Harbor Labs says:
"Intestines are so complex, with so many overlapping layers, that dissection destroys the context and connectivity of the tissue. It would be like trying to understand what was reported in a newspaper by taking scissors to a rolled-up copy. The story just won't hang together."
Summers is co-author of a new study that has produced the first 3D scans of a shark's intestines, which turns out to have a strange, corkscrew structure. What's even more bizarre is that it resembles the amazing one-way valve designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1920. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
What a 3D model reveals
Video: Pacific spiny dogfish intestine youtu.be
According to the study's lead author Samantha Leigh, "It's high time that some modern technology was used to look at these really amazing spiral intestines of sharks. We developed a new method to digitally scan these tissues and now can look at the soft tissues in such great detail without having to slice into them."
"CT scanning is one of the only ways to understand the shape of shark intestines in three dimensions," adds Summers. The researchers scanned the intestines of nearly three dozen different shark species.
It is believed that sharks go for extended periods — days or even weeks — between big meals. The scans reveal that food passes slowly through the intestine, affording sharks' digestive system the time to fully extract its nutrient value. The researchers hypothesize that such a slow digestive process may also require less energy.
It could be that this slow digestion is more susceptible to back flow given that the momentum of digested food through the tract must be minimal. Perhaps that is why sharks evolved something so similar to a Tesla valve.
What is Tesla's valve doing there?
Above, a Tesla valve. Below, a shark intestine.Credit: Samantha Leigh / California State University, Domi
Tesla's "valvular conduit," or what the world now calls a "Tesla valve," is a one-way valve with no moving parts. Its brilliance is based in fluid dynamics and only now coming to be fully appreciated. Essentially, a series of teardrop-shaped loops arranged along the length of the valve allow water to flow easily in one direction but not in the other. Modern tests reveal that at low flow rates, water can travel through the valve either way, but at high flow rates, the design kicks in. According to mathematician Leif Ristroph:
"Crucially, this turn-on comes with the generation of turbulent flows in the reverse direction, which 'plug' the pipe with vortices and disrupting currents. Moreover, the turbulence appears at far lower flow rates than have ever previously been observed for pipes of more standard shapes — up to 20 times lower speed than conventional turbulence in a cylindrical pipe or tube. This shows the power it has to control flows, which could be used in many applications."
A deeper dive
Summers suggests the scans are just the beginning. "The vast majority of shark species, and the majority of their physiology, are completely unknown," says Summers, adding that "every single natural history observation, internal visualization, and anatomical investigation shows us things we could not have guessed at."
To this end, the researchers plan to use 3D printing to produce models through which they can observe the behavior of different substances passing through them — after all, sharks typically eat fish, invertebrates, mammals, and seagrass. They also plan to explore with engineers ways in which the shark intestine design could be used industrially, perhaps for the treatment of wastewater or for filtering microplastics.
It could fairly be said, though, that Nikola Tesla was 100 years ahead of them.
Australian parrots have worked out how to open trash bins, and the trick is spreading across Sydney.
Dumpster-diving trash parrots
In a study about these smart birds just published in Science, researchers define animal culture as "population-specific behaviors acquired via social learning from knowledgeable individuals."
Co-lead author of the study Barbara Klump of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Konstanz, Germany says, "[C]ompared to humans, there are few known examples of animals learning from each other. Demonstrating that food scavenging behavior is not due to genetics is a challenge."
An opportunity presented itself in a video that co-author Richard Major of the Australian Museum shared with Klump and the other co-authors. In the video, a sulphur-crested cockatoo used its beak to pull up the handle of a closed garbage bin — using its foot as a wedge — and then walked back the lid sufficiently to flip it open, exposing the bin's edible contents.
Major has been studying Cacatua galerita for 20 years and says, "Like many Australian birds, sulphur-crested cockatoos are loud and aggressive." The study describes them as a "large-brained, long-lived, and highly social parrot." Says Major, "They are also incredibly smart, persistent, and have adapted brilliantly to living with humans."(Research regarding some of the ways in which wild animals adapt to the presence of humans has already produced some fascinating results and is ongoing.)
Clever cockie opens bin - 01 youtu.be
The researchers became curious about how widespread this behavior might be and saw a research opportunity. After all, says John Martin, a researcher at Taronga Conservation Society, "Australian garbage bins have a uniform design across the country, and sulphur-crested cockatoos are common across the entire east coast."
Martin continues, "In 2018, we launched an online survey in various areas across Sydney and Australia with questions such as, 'What area are you from, have you seen this behavior before, and if so, when?'"
Word Gets Around
Credit: magspace/Adobe Stock
Although the cockatoos' maneuver was reported in only three suburbs before 2018, by the end of 2019, people in 44 areas reported observing the behavior. Clearly, more and more cockatoos were learning how to successfully dumpster dive.
As further proof, says Klump, "We observed that the birds do not open the garbage bins in the same way, but rather used different opening techniques in different suburbs, suggesting that the behavior is learned by observing others." One individual bird in north Sydney invented its own method, and the scientists saw it grow in popularity throughout the local population.
To track individual birds, the researchers marked 500 cockatoos with small red dots. Subsequent observations revealed that not all cockatoos are bin-openers. Only about 10 percent of them are, and they are mostly males. The other cockatoos apparently restrict their education to a different lesson: hang around with a bin-opener, and you will get supper.
Thanks to the surveys, the researchers consider the entire project to be a valuable citizen-science experiment. "By studying this behavior with the help of local residents, we are uncovering the unique and complex cultures of their neighborhood birds."
The few seconds of nuclear explosion opening shots in Godzilla alone required more than 6.5 times the entire budget of the monster movie they ended up in.
As I sat in a darkened cinema in 1998, mesmerised and unnerved by the opening nuclear bomb explosions that framed the beginning of Roland Emmerich's Godzilla, it felt like I was watching the most expensive special effect in history.
Vast expanding clouds and fireballs eclipsed their surroundings and smothered everything in their path, dropping radioactive material that gave rise to the title monster. I had never encountered anything like this. I appreciated the creativity of those 90s films that tried to push visual boundaries through emerging computer technology, but this was on a different scale. I later discovered that there was a good reason for this – the footage was real.
The film did win awards for its special effects, although that was for the giant lizard itself and scenes of New York landmarks being shattered by its rampage, not the precise origin or significance of those fleeting mushroom clouds.
I kept coming back to those images and the accompaniment of haunting, almost other-worldly, choral music. It sent shivers down my spine, and still does every time I re-watch it.
It was that footage which started my journey towards research into nuclear history, and which led to me becoming a visiting fellow at the British Library's Eccles Centre for American Studies, where I study their collections, including the early pictorial history of nuclear testing.
Many of those iconic images which originally stunned me came from the aptly named Operation Crossroads – an exercise 75 years ago involving the first postwar nuclear weapons tests in July 1946, conducted by a joint US army-navy task force in Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. It involved 42,000 people, around 150 support vessels and over 90 target ships and submarines.
It also used over half the world's supply of film footage and hundreds of cameras to capture the nuclear detonations. Officially, this extensive filming was driven by military policy and scientific considerations, US political and military leaders wanting to understand the effects of this new weapon. At the same time, the demonstration of these weapons on film also served to showcase US power to a global audience.
The literal and psychological shock waves of that event were significant in the early cold war and in shaping the modern world, from setting precedents for thousands of subsequent bomb tests and accelerating the arms race to long-lasting radioactive environmental damage in locations where these tests occurred.
Crossroads even led to the invention of a language of terms to describe nuclear testing (through over two months of negotiation). Some terms agreed on are perhaps less familiar, including “cauliflower cloud" and “base surge", while others (like “fallout") have become ubiquitous since.
Crossroads had such an impact because it was almost a blockbuster movie production in its filmic scale and focus – a military-scientific cinematic spectacle, unique among over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted worldwide by all nations since.
Public Domain (Wikicommons)
Even as much of its cold war origins and significance lie forgotten, Crossroads' cinematic legacies have lived on over the last 75 years. Photos and footage from it have been used widely, from propaganda to popular culture: from Godzilla movies to internet
memes. It has been employed to inform, to protest, as cultural symbols, and in ways which have obscured or re-framed aspects of nuclear history, shifting away from legacies of US testing, or even making the bomb a monster-destroying weapon (seen not least through Godzilla), much like a mushroom cloud enveloping everything in its path.
The world's most expensive film shoot
Crossroads fundamentally changed the film profile of atom bombs. Still images of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 had appeared in many newspapers, but there was limited camera footage of these. There were also only a few thousand TVs in the US in 1946, so for many the Crossroads footage would be watched in cinema newsreels (whether in the US or other countries).
The Crossroads plan was large in scale and complexity, but underpinned by one central concept: assembling a fleet of around 90 decommissioned US naval ships (including three captured German and Japanese vessels), anchoring them in a remote lagoon in the Pacific (Bikini Atoll) and setting off atom bombs against them. A truly blockbuster plan.
'Operation Crossroads. Underwater atomic blast again rocks Bikini Atoll', British Pathé newsreel, 1946.
The stated goal was to test how atomic bombs would affect naval vessels, better to improve the design of future ships and such defensive arrangements as anchoring them in harbours, in the event that America faced the atom bombs of other nations in the future – though only the US had the bomb at this time. But Crossroads was later widened to test damage to other types of material and equipment, as well as measuring various effects of the weapons, such as (rather unsettlingly) the biological impact on thousands of animals present on target ships, including pigs, goats and rats.
Crossroads has been described as one of the most photographed events in history, and this had had several practical effects for moviemakers, even before the first weapon had been exploded. As more than half the world's available stock of film footage was bought up for cameras to record the tests, there were months of shortages in Hollywood and other major studios around the world.
New high-speed cameras were used to capture even the first fractions of a second after detonation (although these didn't always go to plan). Subsequent nuclear tests prompted further developments of these technologies, some of which would later make their way into fields from commercial cinematography to medicine.
Some of the first drone cameras – a concept evoking images of 21st-century movie-making – were also significantly developed and used in Crossroads. Large four-propeller engine B-17 bombers were rigged with TV cameras and transmitters so that they could be flown remotely as drone aircraft, to film the explosions and to collect radioactive samples from clouds. Similar arrangements were made for small, un-crewed boats. While a far cry from modern military and civil drones, such experiments were groundbreaking, leading to shots that would previously have been impossible, and laying foundations for future developments in both drones and in remote-controlled photography.
Development of the atomic bomb had been shrouded in the utmost secrecy throughout the second world war, to the point that the public and most members of Congress didn't know about it until after Hiroshima was bombed. Even Harry Truman – as vice president – hadn't known of its existence until he succeeded President Roosevelt in April 1945. This made the widespread publicity of Crossroads as a global media event one year later even more remarkable. Observers were invited to attend the tests from such unlikely places as the Soviet Union.
While the visuals of nuclear tests may be well recognised, the sound adds another dimension to their impact. The orchestras of the US Armed Forces provided custom music for films of the tests, whether for classified or public consumption, akin to the dramatic soundtracks of action or superhero adventures, or the eerie music of horror movies that creates the atmosphere.
The music was usually reserved as rousing chords for the opening and ending, or particularly poignant moments, such as observing damage to ships, though not for the detonations themselves. By contrast, all cinematic and documentary uses of Crossroads almost always overlay detonation footage with dramatic music.
Crossroads Baker detonation, with added music and with commentary by William Shatner, as featured in the revised version of the 1995 documentary 'Trinity and Beyond'.
One of a kind
“Those black dots are battleships? But they're so tiny," was the amazed reaction of one student when I showed their class footage from Crossroads – it was by no means an isolated response. The iconic nature of those images partly stems from Crossroads being distinctive among nuclear tests, particularly the second detonation, Crossroads Baker, on July 25 1946.
Almost all nuclear weapons tested have either been detonated within the atmosphere (ground or air, sometimes on the verge of space), in which case the first sign of the explosion has involved a blinding flash obscuring everything, or underground, in which there was often much less to see, except eerie videos of the earth slowly giving way to form a crater before kicking up dust. Underground testing could, of course, still lead to dramatic (and disturbing) footage, such as the ground rising up before exploding, a particularly notable example being the Operation Storax Sedan detonation in 1962, which was testing (almost unbelievably) ways of using nuclear weapons for civil construction in large excavation projects.
Crossroads Baker, meanwhile, was detonated just underwater, meaning it could be observed from the moment the explosion reached the surface. The visual effect was also made all the more powerful by the surrounding lagoon, the rapidly expanding blast hurling what were later estimated to be over two million tonnes of water and spray high into the air.
Silent footage from a ground angle with a clear view of the Crossroads Baker detonation, showing the growth of the explosion.
The scale of subsequent test series was different. While the bombs increased in power hundreds of times after Crossroads (and tests grew from using two weapons to sometimes up to 30 or 40 in a single operation), never again was there such a fleet assembled to be bombed.
Filming of tests became an industry in its own right, with subsequent tests having an entire US Air Force studio at Lookout Mountain Laboratory being dedicated to them. But there was rarely the same gathering of news media or scale of filming as at Crossroads. Footage of later tests, while still released in some propaganda and news films, also became less public for various reasons, including security.
There were no further underwater tests until 1955 with Operation Wigwam, which examined a concept originally planned for the cancelled third Crossroads test, Charlie, on the effects of deep ocean nuclear explosions against submarines. Wigwam similarly saw no repeat of the Crossroads fleet – only three miniature submarines anchored to the bomb for taking damage measurements, alongside a modest number of support vessels.
For all the effort of being so widely photographed, much of the footage captured remained classified. Some was released in 1946 newsreel and public information films, more appeared in the 1960s, and further photographs and footage were released in 2016.
Crossroads had a book as well: an “Official Pictorial Report", something not repeated in any other test series and publicly available with around 200 photographs and captions. It has been a very valuable and often-overlooked time capsule of how the test was recorded and presented, but is also only a drop in the lagoon of 50,000 still images captured.
Many photos are of the people involved rather than the bombs themselves. In the Official Report, for instance, I discovered that only a fifth of the images show mushroom clouds; the rest charting things like scientific preparations or the aftermath of tests, but also everyday life for the task-force members conducting them. The more I saw them, the more I became fascinated with how these people were adapting to living through such events. It was like seeing “behind the scenes" footage.
And then there are the people who are only represented briefly in these images, often in a particular light, or excluded entirely – such as the existing population of 167 people at Bikini Atoll. These people ostensibly “agreed" to give up their homes for science, but, in reality, felt that they didn't have a choice, and also assumed that the move would only be temporary.
This was one of the first examples of nuclear colonialism. They were relocated to Rongerik Atoll, where food sources turned out not to be sustainable, and relocated further times after that. About 150 returned to Bikini in the 1970s, but the health dangers from radioactivity left behind by subsequent tests meant they had to leave again in 1978 and have never been able to return. Their story only received the greater attention it deserves in recent years.
In the world of box office films, the predominant cinematic uses of Crossroads' historic footage remains the mushroom cloud, inescapable in its iconic and instantly recognisable form. But the ways in which it has been used out of context in such films as Godzilla can create new meanings for how others depicted nuclear history, while further obscuring the original ones.
Admiral William Blandy, who led Operation Crossroads, and his wife cut a mushroom cloud cake. ( Harris & Ewing Studio/Wikimedia Commons)
(Mis)appropriation of Crossroads
Crossroads' footage has been used in a wide variety of settings, from the ending of Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove to YouTube memes. But the Godzilla uses stand out, both in my own personal experience, but also because of their significance of wider trends in how nuclear history has been re-interpreted cinematically.
Even in 1998, I saw Godzilla as an allegory for the effects of nuclear tests and radiation. It was only when reading about the 1954 original that I learned the wider history: in the original (Japanese) story, Godzilla is an embodiment of the harm from nuclear weapons themselves and particularly the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 1954 Godzilla was a peaceful ancient dinosaur, sent on a rampage by the effects of radiation from an atomic explosion. But this narrative became distorted in some later remakes, whether aimed at Japanese or western audiences.
A particular criticism of US adaptations, right from US re-cuts of the 1954 original that were sold back to Japan, has been the removal of overt references within the movies to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or indeed to any of the problematic aspects of US nuclear history.
The 1998 film begins by focusing on Godzilla as being created by French nuclear tests in the Pacific. Such detonations did indeed happen, although the footage used is entirely that of American Pacific nuclear testing (Crossroads Baker featuring prominently from different angles alongside a few shots of other tests). Little visual and audio cues reinforce this fiction by superimposing over a montage of test preparations a map of French Polynesia, a countdown in French, and La Marseillaise playing in the background.
There are other hints later in the film which – as subtle as the presence of Godzilla itself – include Jean Reno as leader of a “French Secret Service" team who signals their job is to clean up the problems created by their country's tests in the Pacific, and a US TV station helpfully putting up a map of Godzilla's origins alongside a big sign “French Nuke Testing".
The 2014 film goes even further in its repainting of nuclear testing history. The opening also starts with Pacific tests, although framed as being the 1954 US thermonuclear weapons test, Castle Bravo. This time, instead of starting with a Godzilla created by atom bomb radiation, the nuclear tests are portrayed as a weapon used to try to kill Godzilla.
Opening shots of Godzilla (2014), prominently featuring footage of the Crossroads Baker detonation.
Of course, it's ironic that the film starts with an attempt to kill the embodiment of the effects of nuclear weapons, Godzilla, with nuclear weapons. And that the real-life 1954 Castle Bravo test went out of control because of an unexpected reaction, spreading radiation much further than planned, severely affecting the population of the Rongelap and Utirik Atolls with radiation poisoning, as well as sailors on a Japanese fishing trawler, one of whom later died. This story of the fishermen ignited protests in Japan over nuclear testing, resonating with the still fresh wounds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and acting as a major inspiration for the original Japanese Godzilla film that same year.
For all the advancements in special effects technology, at the crucial moment of detonation, the iconic footage of Crossroads Baker still appears as the centrepiece in the 2014 Godzilla. It is interspersed with a more computer-generated mushroom cloud and the mimicking of shock waves hitting island beaches, but the continued usage shows its cinematic longevity.
It is not that there weren't videos of Castle Bravo available. On the contrary, footage of it has been iconic, and terrifying, in its own right in documentaries and films, and that bomb itself was over 700 times more powerful than Crossroads Baker. It is possible that these films, taken from a greater distance, didn't have quite the same, seemingly close-up, unobscured, and immediate feeling of scale as Baker, flanked by full-sized naval ships that appear as mere toys against the mushroom cloud.
To stunned moviegoers like myself, Crossroads may well have been the most expensive special effects in history. Adjusted for inflation, the operation would have cost over US$800 million in 1998, possibly even more with added technical and safety complexities (fortunately, US and Soviet atmospheric nuclear testing had ended in 1962). As such, those few seconds of nuclear explosion opening shots in Godzilla alone required more than 6.5 times the entire budget of the monster movie they ended up in.
But the cost which can never be calculated is the power of those images upon the human imagination and fear, as well as their effect on the nuclear arms race. Many target ships, while damaged, survived Crossroads Baker, but were enveloped in so much radioactive seawater that decontamination became almost impossible, except for a few vessels.
Plans to sail the remaining ships back to the US triumphantly gave way to sinking most of them, albeit without the same fanfare as the operation itself. A forgotten end credits scene on which the cameras never rolled, but the fallout from which fogs the films to this day.