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Here are some suggestions for teachers and students:

Before Viewing

  1. With paper or online maps review the Soviet Union's changing borders. Emphasize how much of the country the Nazi army occupied in 1941-42. Refresh memories of the locations of Moscow, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Ask students to make a map showing Berlin, Moscow, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and outlining the path of the TransSiberian railroad.

  2. Review with students the reasons why a nation would want to create an Atomic bomb.

  3. Review the nature of the depression in the United States. Explain why this severe crisis made people doubt the viability of the American economic system. Ask students to query their families how many relatives were unemployed between 1929-1941? How many remember Black Thursday - the 1929 stock market crash?

  4. Review and remind students of why there was a revolution in Russia in 1917. Ask why Soviet society seemed so attractive to a particular segment of the American population.

  5. Ask students - what is the world's second oldest profession. Discuss what they know about espionage? What picture comes into their minds when the term Soviet spies is mentioned?

  6. Review current events, allegations of spying at the Los Alamos Labs by agents of Communist China. Ask students if they think it possible to get enough information from open sources, in libraries or through the internet to learn how to construct an atomic bomb. Ask if the same was true in the 1940's. ask students to make a map of the venues for atomic research (The Manhattan Project) in the US during WWII

  7. Ask students to define patriotism. To what entity, organization, notion or higher authority do they believe they owe their allegiance? For what principles would they sacrifice their lives?

  8. Discuss with students under what circumstances they would engage in espionage?

  9. Ask students who were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Ask them to ask their families what they need to know about the Rosenbergs? After students report what they need to know ask them to compose a bumper sticker on the Rosenberg.

  10. Ask students what they know about the Chernobyl atomic power station and the MIR space station. Use this as a starting point for discussing their perceptions of Soviet technology. If you have a Periodic Table of the Elements hanging in your classroom, point to it, ask who created it. [A:Dmitir Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834-1907) in 1869.] Ask students to explain the pictures that pop up in their minds when you mention the Soviet Union and its technology, manufacturing. Lead a discussion on stereotypes of a foreign culture. How do underlying stereotypes alter perceptions? [A stereotype is a culture's standardized mental picture or series of pictures, representing an oversimplified opinion. This integral part of a cultural code feeds on uncritical judgment. It is staggeringly tenacious in its hold over rational and popular (mass) thinking]. Remind students of Walter Lippmann's notion that American apprehend foreign affairs through pictures in their minds. Read this quote from Public Opinion (NY: Macmillian, 1922) where Lippmann wrote, "The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those perceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception." Ask students to discuss its meaning. Ask them how what helps them understand a foreign environment as if they were inside the other side.

After Viewing

  1. Ask students to identify sites where scientists worked on The Manhattan Project (New York, Chicago, Oak Ridge, Tenn., Los Alamos, Manhattan).

  2. Have students trace the route Lona Cohen took to and from Los Alamos? Ask why she did not fly there? ask students to make a map tracing Lona's route.

  3. Ask students to discuss the role of spies during wartime? Are spies a legitimate instrument of state craft? Is there a difference between spying on an enemy and on an ally? Have any American spies ever been sent to prison for spying on an ally? (Yes, Jonathan Pollard, for transferring information to Israel) How is that different from what Americans who participated in Operation Enormous did?

  4. If nuclear weapons are measured in Kilotons and one Kiloton=1,000 tons of TNT's explosive power how much destructive power did "Fat Man" a 20 kiloton bomb release on Hiroshima. Why did this bomb so alarm Stalin? After all it was dropped on Japan, not the Soviet Union.

  5. Why was the atomic bomb developed in such secrecy in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union? Why did the United States have such trouble keeping its top secrets secrect?

  6. Ask students to discuss why Lona Cohen hid papers smuggled out of Los Alamos in a Kleenex box? Have students explain how they would try to fool security personnel if they were trying to take papers out of place undetected?

  7. Have students look at documents from the Venona Project. Ask a couple of students, in turn, to give five classmates code-names. Identify students by their code-names for a day. Ask any student who was no in the class during the name giving to guess who is code-name Zebra etc.? Ask students if you were a Soviet spy what would your code-name be? Ask students what qualities they believe are necessary to be a good spy.

  8. Have students read Svetlana Chervonnaya and Morris Cohen's KGB interview. Ask students to act out a scenario where they have moved to Moscow and are assigned work in a top KGB school preparing students to become undercover agents in the United States. What kinds of things will the instructor need to teach them? How would what they would need to know now be different from what Lona Cohen taught in the 1960's?

  9. Extend exercise have the class decide to prepare a couple, like the Cohens who became the Krogers, to establish new identities in Australia. What will they need to know? What kind of skills will they need? What kind of important work can they do for Moscow in Australia.

  10. Ask a student to read and to summarize for the class the essence of Rebecca West's, The New Meaning of Treason (New York: Viking, 1970). Have them discuss Ted Hall's action. Is his argument that he acted for the greater good of human kind convincing? What about the evidence that once the nuclear monopoly was broken that nuclear parity between the superpowers created the grounds for a "long peace?" What would have kept a non-nuclear post WWII world from sliding into a third world war?

  11. Espionage is a very expensive business. Have students discuss what areas merit the expenditure of monies for spying? What dangers do foreign spies pose in America today?

  12. In terms of the professionalism of spying and successful outcome who did better in the Cold War as agents of espionage those working for the US or the USSR?

  13. Ask students if they had just 15 minutes to speak with Ted Hall or Aleksander Feklisov what would they say to them? If they were asked to write a profile in the student newspaper of Lona Cohen what would the headline be? What about the last paragraph.

  14. Ask students to explore how their local newspaper reported the news that the Soviet Union had exploded an Atomic bomb. Have them compare the coverage to the same newspaper reports (including editorials) that Pakistan and India tested such devices last summer. How do they explain the difference in the tone and significance in the different eras? Ask students interested in writing to compare just the adjectives used in the two eras 49 years apart.

  15. Ask students adept at science to quietly gather technical information on building an Atomic bomb. Did anyone question them as they searched for printed materials? Is it in their opinion dangerous that factual material is more or less freely available in libraries?


These suggested questions help educators move towards meeting national standards.

Specific standards addressed in these suggested exercises are:

World History Standards

Era 8 - A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945

  1. Understands reform, revolution, and social change in the world economy of the early 20th century
  2. Understands the causes and global consequences of World War I
  3. Understands the search for peace and stability throughout the world in the 1920s and 1930s
  4. Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II
  5. Understands major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II

Era 9 - The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes

  1. Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up
  2. Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world
  3. Understands major global trends since World War II

United States History Standards

Era 8 - The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)

  1. Understands the causes of the Great Depression and how it affected American society
  2. Understands how the New Deal addressed the Great Depression, transformed American federalism, and initiated the welfare state
  3. Understands the causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs

Era 9 - Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)

  1. Understands the economic boom and social transformation of post-World War II United States
  2. Understands how the Cold War and conflicts in Korean and Vietnam influenced domestic and international politics
  3. Understands domestic policies in the post-World War II period
  4. Understands the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties

Language Arts Standards

Geography Standards

The World in Spatial Terms

  1. Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies
  2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment
  3. Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth's surface

Places and Regions

  1. Understands the physical and human characteristics of place
  2. Understands the concept of regions
  3. Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

Civics Standards

What is Government and What Should it Do?

  1. Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government
  2. Understands the essential characteristics of limited and unlimited governments
  3. Understands the sources, purposes, and functions of law, and the importance of the rule of law for the protection of individual rights and the common good
  4. Understands alternative forms of representation and how they serve the purposes of constitutional government

What is the Relationship of the United States to Other Nations and to World Affairs?

  1. Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy
  2. Understands the impact of significant political and nonpolitical developments on the United States and other nations

What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

  1. Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights
  2. Understands issues regarding the proper scope and limits of rights and the relationships among personal, political, and economic rights
  3. Understands how certain character traits enhance citizens' ability to fulfill personal and civic responsibilities
  4. Understands how participation in civic and political life can help citizens attain individual and public goals
  5. Understands the importance of political leadership, public service, and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy

Science Standards

Science and Technology

  1. Understands the nature of scientific knowledge
  2. Understands the nature of scientific inquiry
  3. Understands the scientific enterprise

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