The Cold War Quiz
by Staff
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
  • incursions
  • undeclared wars

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
  • the Western Door
  • the Fulda Gap

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

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
  • the Global Defense Initiative
  • the Pacific Overlords

The Polish labor union that advocated nonviolence and eventually brought down Poland's communist government was called what?

  • Free Poland
  • Solidarity
  • Gdansk Anti-Communist League

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
  • McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

U.S. intervention in Vietnam was spurred by a controversial incident that occurred in what body of water?

  • the Gulf of Tonkin
  • the Persian Gulf
  • the Bay of Fundy

What Soviet jet fighter was the backbone of communist-backed air forces during the Cold War?

  • Sukhoi Su-11
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
  • Tupolev Tu-160

The destruction of what structure is considered an important symbolic event in ending the Cold War?

  • the Berlin Wall
  • The Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd, Russia
  • the Baikonur NIIP-7 launch tower

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
  • Washington

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

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
  • astronaut diplomacy

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 Steel Blockade

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
  • the KGB

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

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
  • potemkin
  • oktyabrya

Who was the first western rock star to perform a concert tour in the USSR?

  • Elton John
  • Eric Clapton
  • Paul McCartney

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 Mexico incident
  • the Kissinger stalemate

The fear that the USSR had far more nuclear missiles available than the U.S. was known as the …

  • Polaris Doctrine
  • missile gap
  • Kennedy Plan

What was the name of the failed CIA-backed invasion of Cuba in 1961?

  • Project Swansea
  • Operation Overlord
  • the Bay of Pigs Invasion

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
  • James Earl Ray

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
  • weakest link theory

What did the CIA call the domestic surveillance operation that targeted U.S. student groups, anti-war groups and other "subversives"?

  • Operation CHAOS
  • Project MALICE
  • Operation DOGHOUSE

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
  • on the aircraft carrier USS Randolph

In the 1970s Chinese-U.S. relations were opened up by an exchange of sports teams. What was the sport?

  • hockey
  • table tennis
  • gymnastics

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"
  • "The Wild Bunch"
  • "The Pawnbroker"

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 Marshall Plan

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
  • China
  • Vietnam

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
  • Onjong, North Korea

A Soviet military invasion ended the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia known as the …

  • Czech Campaign
  • Prague Spring
  • Summer of Love