“You know Fred, actually, staying in a city to help after an atomic attack is not nearly as dangerous as a lot of people think. The danger of, well, lingering radiation is not really very serious. After an atomic air burst, the danger of radiation and falling debris is over within… a minute and a half.”
You don’t say?
The Federal Civil Defense Administration produced a glut of Cold War misinformation and propaganda, but 1951’s Our Cities Must Fight is among the most baffling. An attempt to discourage urbanites from abandoning their fair cities after nuclear attack, the film fictionalizes a conversation between two patriotic newspapermen bemoaning the “take to the hills fraternity.” The men go on to imply that leaving a nuked city would be “pretty close to treason,” and then pile on the insane justifications—you couldn’t get through the traffic anyway! We’ll need you to fight fires and keep going to work! Oh, and my favorite—radiation isn’t really that big a deal!
I’m not sure if there really was a totally unrealistic perception that a post-nuclear city could still function, but I can’t imagine most Americans would stick around to polish the brass on the Titanic after an atomic bomb hit it—assuming of course that there were any survivors. With the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh, it’s difficult to believe the FCDA ever thought anyone would stick around because of a silly government film!