The Cold War Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
5 min
The Cold War Quiz
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

For more than four decades, the world lived in a state of anxiety and tension as two great military powers, bristling with devastating nuclear weapons, stared each other down. Test your knowledge of the Cold War with this quiz.
The Cold War got its name because the U.S. and USSR never directly attacked each other. However, they did fund wars in other nations. What were these indirect wars called?
proxy wars
The Vietnam, Korean and Soviet-Afghan war are all examples of proxy wars.
incursions
undeclared wars

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In 1961 columns of U.S. and Soviet tanks stared each other down through a crossing point in the Berlin Wall known as …
Checkpoint Charlie
A spy from the KGB, the Soviet security and intelligence agency, helped the two sides communicate, defusing the situation at Checkpoint Charlie when the tanks withdrew.
the Western Door
the Fulda Gap

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The U.S. military group responsible for firing nuclear weapons as well as detecting incoming weapons was called SAC. What does SAC stand for?
Sequential Attack Checklist
Seventh Airborne, Colorado
Strategic Air Command
Strategic Air Command was disbanded and its assets and responsibilities were distributed to other military organizations in 1992.

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The U.S. is a member of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), which was created during the Cold War. What group was the USSR part of?
the Warsaw Pact
Other members of the Warsaw Pact included Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany and Poland.
the Global Defense Initiative
the Pacific Overlords

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The Polish labor union that advocated nonviolence and eventually brought down Poland's communist government was called what?
Free Poland
Solidarity
Solidarity's principles spread to other communist nations, and its success strengthened other anti-communist groups in those nations.
Gdansk Anti-Communist League

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In 1960 U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers was captured after being shot down while flying over the USSR. What kind of plane was Powers flying?
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
Lockheed U-2
The Soviets convicted Powers of espionage but eventually released him as part of a prisoner exchange.
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

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U.S. intervention in Vietnam was spurred by a controversial incident that occurred in what body of water?
the Gulf of Tonkin
The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which may have been exaggerated by the U.S. Defense Department, led Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing intervention in Asian countries threatened by communism.
the Persian Gulf
the Bay of Fundy

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What Soviet jet fighter was the backbone of communist-backed air forces during the Cold War?
Sukhoi Su-11
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
MiG-21s scored numerous victories in Vietnam, Syria, Angola and other proxy wars.
Tupolev Tu-160

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The destruction of what structure is considered an important symbolic event in ending the Cold War?
the Berlin Wall
The checkpoints at the Berlin Wall were officially opened in 1989. It was demolished piece by piece throughout 1989 and 1990 by both Germans with chisels and hammers and official demolition crews.
The Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd, Russia
the Baikonur NIIP-7 launch tower

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What was the Revolutionary War-inspired name of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles that threatened the USSR with nuclear attack or retaliation?
Redcoat
Minuteman
Large numbers of Minuteman missiles were built to deter Soviet nuclear attacks with the fear of a devastating retaliation.
Washington

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In 1978 writer Georgi Markov, who had defected from Bulgaria, was assassinated in London. What was used to poison him while he stood on a bridge?
a newspaper
a pen
an umbrella
Markov was injected with ricin by a man holding an umbrella.

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The period of improved relations between the U.S. and USSR that resulted in the signing of several important treaties was known as …
the Vienna principle
detente
"Detente" is a French word that means "relaxation."
astronaut diplomacy

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What was the name for the border between the Soviet-allied nations and the NATO nations in Europe?
the Devil's Spine
the Iron Curtain
The Iron Curtain was a symbolic division between Warsaw Pact and NATO states, but it was also a physical border marked by fences, walls and guard posts.
the Steel Blockade

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What was the name of the East German secret police, an intelligence organization that spied on its own citizens and encouraged them to inform on each other?
the Comintern
the Stasi
"Stasi" is an abbreviation for Staatssicherheit, which means "state security."
the KGB

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Which U.S. president created the policy of containing Soviet imperialism by supporting other nations that resisted communism?
President Richard M. Nixon
President John F. Kennedy
President Harry S. Truman
Truman's speech to Congress declaring the Truman Doctrine on March 12, 1947, is often considered the historical starting point of the Cold War.

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What was the name of the reform policy spearheaded by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s that pushed for greater transparency in the Soviet government?
glasnost
Glasnost means "publicity" in the sense of making government decisions and operations public knowledge.
potemkin
oktyabrya

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Who was the first western rock star to perform a concert tour in the USSR?
Elton John
Elton John toured the Soviet Union in 1979.
Eric Clapton
Paul McCartney

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During a 13-day crisis in 1962, the U.S. and Soviet Union came very close to a full nuclear war. What was this crisis called?
the Cuban missile crisis
The Cuban missile crisis began when U.S. surveillance photos showed Soviet ships sending missiles to nearby Cuba.
the Mexico incident
the Kissinger stalemate

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The fear that the USSR had far more nuclear missiles available than the U.S. was known as the …
Polaris Doctrine
missile gap
The missile gap was based on exaggerated numbers and used primarily for political purposes.
Kennedy Plan

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What was the name of the failed CIA-backed invasion of Cuba in 1961?
Project Swansea
Operation Overlord
the Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a massive blunder for the U.S.

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Who was the former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union before returning and assassinating President John F. Kennedy?
John Wilkes Booth
Lee Harvey Oswald
Oswald was a communist sympathizer, but we'll probably never know if he truly acted alone in carrying out the assassination.
James Earl Ray

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What was the name of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's theory that if one country was taken over by communists, more countries would also fall to communism?
house of cards theory
domino theory
Eisenhower's domino theory is what led him to send U.S. military advisors to Vietnam.
weakest link theory

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What did the CIA call the domestic surveillance operation that targeted U.S. student groups, anti-war groups and other "subversives"?
Operation CHAOS
Operation CHAOS used undercover agents to infiltrate student groups.
Project MALICE
Operation DOGHOUSE

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The massive nuclear bunker/command center that houses North American Aerospace Defense Command is located where?
in a natural cave system in Virginia
inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex was built under 2,000 feet of solid granite.
on the aircraft carrier USS Randolph

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In the 1970s Chinese-U.S. relations were opened up by an exchange of sports teams. What was the sport?
hockey
table tennis
The exchange of table tennis teams was known as "ping pong diplomacy" and eventually led to President Richard Nixon's visit to China.
gymnastics

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What film parodies the absurdities of the Cold War, including the classic line, "Gentleman! You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" was released in 1964 at the height of the Cold War.
"The Wild Bunch"
"The Pawnbroker"

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When the Soviets closed off West Berlin in 1948, preventing all food and supplies from entering, an international effort to fly supplies into the city began. What was the effort called?
the Danzig Connection
the Berlin Airflift
The Berlin Airlift rendered the Soviet blockade of West Berlin impotent, and Joseph Stalin called it off in 1949.
the Marshall Plan

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Operation Northwoods was a U.S. Defense Department plan to increase public support for war by committing terrorist attacks and making them look like they'd been done by what country?
Cuba
Bombings, shootings and even a faked plane crash were to be blamed on Cuban nationals to drum up support for a U.S. war on Cuba.
China
Vietnam

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After North Korean forces, backed by China and the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea, a United Nations force made up mostly of American troops made an amphibious assault at what city?
Pyongyang, North Korea
Incheon, South Korea
The Battle of Inchon was a major turning point in the Korean War.
Onjong, North Korea

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A Soviet military invasion ended the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia known as the …
Czech Campaign
Prague Spring
During the Prague Spring, Czechoslovakian civilians resisted the Soviet occupation through mostly nonviolent methods.
Summer of Love

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