World War Three seen through Soviet eyes
Rennie in Warsaw
nightmare of nuclear war in Europe -
a spectre that haunted the world for half a
century - stood revealed yesterday in terrible detail. In a historic
break with the past, Poland's
newly elected government
threw open its top secret Warsaw Pact military archives - including a
1979 map revealing the Soviet bloc's vision of a seven-day atomic
between Nato and Warsaw Pact forces. The defence minister, Radek
showed off the map at an emotional press conference.
it as a "personally
shattering experience", pointing to a long line of nuclear mushroom
neatly stamped along the Vistula, where Soviet bloc commanders assumed
Nato tactical nuclear weapons would rain down to block reinforcements
million Polish civilians would
die in such a war, and the country would be all but wiped off the face
Earth, he said. On the map, western Europe lay beneath a
chilling overlay of large red mushroom clouds: Warsaw Pact nuclear
using giant warheads to compensate for their relative lack of
precision. Soviet bombs rain down on cities from
down to Brussels,
headquarters of Nato. Large red clouds blot out cities such as Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart,
Munich and Baden
Antwerp and Charleroi, above
the Franco-Belgian border.
On the map,
smaller blue mushroom clouds
showed expected Nato targets - most of them relatively precise attacks
including strikes on Warsaw and Prague. The map
dates from a time when the balance
of power was radically different from now. In Washington
the vacillating Jimmy Carter was suffering a series of defeats - the
revolution and the subsequent seizure of the United States
embassy in Teheran. Britain
a low ebb, racked by strikes, and just putting its faith in Margaret
however, was stretching its
muscles - preparing for its ill-fated takeover of Afghanistan.
Perhaps because the map shows a limited war
game exercise, entitled Seven Days to the River Rhine, rather than full
invasion plans, troops stop at the Rhine, and there are no attacks or
strikes on Britain,
or on France.
Large blue Nato nuclear bombers are shown
flying out of bases in East Anglia, and squadrons
of Nato fighters are
shown scrambling from Danish bases into combat over the Baltic.
to unveil the Warsaw Pact
documents is one of the first moves of Poland's new conservative
government. Mr Sikorsky described it as an attempt to draw a line under
country's Communist past, and "educate" the Polish public about the
old regime. He did not deny that the opening of the
archives will be seen as a provocation in Moscow.
Russian-Polish relations have sharply deteriorated recently, amid rows
planned oil pipeline, and Polish support for democratic revolutions in Russia's backyard, first in Ukraine, and now Belarus.
a former dissident who studied
at Oxford University,
said: "These are documents that are crucial for educating the public,
showing how Poland
as an unwilling ally of the Soviet Union.
government wants to end the post-Communist period. "It's important for
citizens to know
who was a hero, and who was a villain. It is important for the civic
society to make these things public."
being released would include
documents about "Operation Danube", the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.
They also included files on an army massacre of Polish workers in Szczecin in the
and from the martial law era of the 1980s.