Klaus Fuchs was extremely smart.
He was born in 1911, in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and from a very young age demonstrated a clear gift in mathematics and the sciences; breezing through his primary education and then being accepted into The University of Leipzig.
Klaus studied mathematics and physics at the University, and this is where he first became involved in student politics; joining both the Social Democratic Party of Germany, as well as the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the Communist Party’s paramilitary arm.
Now, while Klaus was still in school, on February, 27, 1933, a Berlin fire station received an alarm for the German Parliament. They quickly responded and found that the entire Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames — and because of the size of the fire as well as its political location, arson was suspected. So fireman fought the fire, while the police surrounded the complex to look for evidence.
What they found, was Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch Communist, inside one of the buildings. Lubbe was arrested and confessed to being involved in the arson. Soon three other men were arrested — Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov and Vasil Tanev — all Communist Party members and all confessed to the crime. They were tried and later executed.
The event became known as, The Reichstag Fire, and here is where things really get interesting. Only a month before this, a man named Adolf Hitler had been sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler was outraged at this attack, and saw the fire as solid evidence that communists were plotting against the German government. Hitler urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree that would suspend all civil liberties in order to counter this ruthless hostility. He did. And when this occurred — Nazi Germany was born. Almost overnight, the Nazi Party went from a political entity, to a dictatorship. With Adolf Hitler at the wheel.
So the question is, did Hitler orchestrate The Reichstag Fire?
Well historians have been trying to prove this for decades without much luck. It’s very possible that he did. And it’s also possible that he only took advantage of this opportunistic moment — to use fear as a vehicle to seize control of the government. But either way, Germany quickly become a Nazi controlled country, as well as one where being a card carrying Communist, could be extremely dangerous. So Klaus Fuchs went into hiding until he could get out of the country later that year.
In September of 1933, Fuchs fled to England where he worked as a physics research assistant at the University of Bristol, and in 1937 he received his Ph.D. in physics. After this, he worked at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned a second Ph.D. in Science.
Then World War II broke out.
After spending some time in Canada, Fuchs returned to England where he began working on The Tube Alloys Project — England’s covert atomic bomb group. And this is where Fuchs began his career as a spy. He immediately began passing detailed information on the project, directly to The Soviet Union.
In 1943 Fuchs went to New York City, to work on the Manhattan Project and then in 1944 to the Los Alamos Laboratory — where he developed the calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons as well as early models of the hydrogen bomb.
Then came Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the war. Klaus returned to the UK and worked at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment as the head of the Theoretical Physics Division.
Five years later, on January 31, 1950, President Harry Truman announced his decision to develop The Superbomb. A hydrogen weapon that would be one hundred times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — with Klaus Fuchs having a front row seat to the project. And on November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated Mike, the world’s first hydrogen bomb. This ten megaton thermonuclear device, was detonated the Pacific Marshall Islands — it vaporized the entire island and left a mile long crater behind.
Fuchs’ luck ran out later that year.
While passing some sensitive information to a Soviet contact, American intelligence followed and arrested him. He was questioned and confessed; which led to his trial and eventually lead to him being sentenced to fourteen years in prison. But the damage had already been done — the Soviet Union now knew everything we knew, about the hydrogen bomb.
On November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb; based on the same principle of radiation implosion as Mike —- with the same results.
Which meant that both superpowers were now in possession of what had been called — the hell bomb.
Two of the most powerful nations in the world, both had a weapon that could kill millions on both sides. And they didn’t like each other very much.
The US announced that it would use massive retaliation to any Communist aggression, and for the first time in history, the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war.
Movies, films, books, television, newspapers — all echoed the fear of nuclear obliteration. And on October 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy addresses the American people, and asked them to — build bomb shelters to protect themselves and their families against nuclear fallout.
The President of the United States — one of the most powerful men in the world — asked his people to — dig a hole and get ready to hide in it.
It wasn’t now a question of — if it would happen — it was now — when would it happen.
Bomb shelters began to pop up everywhere. These ranged from a corner of the basement, built up with sandbags and food and water, to elaborate underground rooms with ventilation and water purification systems.
Civil Defense agencies provided canned drinking water and water packaged in milk cartons, to citizens. Fallout drills were exercised in schools and public buildings. We were preparing.
We had a plan and we knew where to hide and wait it out. And we had a stockpile of the basics — canned goods, dried goods, food stuffs, water. We just wanted to survive. That’s all. Nothing fancy. We just wanted to — live.
And we waited.
And we watched.
And the bombs — never came.
And that was good.
And the bomb shelters remained unused. And then they became root sellers and playhouses and storage. And that was good too.
But along with all that good —- came one bad thing —.
WHAT IS A BOMB SHELTER?
A bomb shelter is a safety net. It’s a place where the basics can be taken care of. It’s the fallback plan. The retreat point. It’s a ready area where you and the people you care about, can go to get the basics taken care of and to be safe.
Talk of bomb shelters today are rare, unless you are referring to the trend of Doomsday Prepping or simply Prepping.
Prepping is similar to the movement of bomb shelters in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in that it is the preparing for a particular disaster to occur — a governmental collapse, massive chemical warfare, an electromagnetic pulse that will wipe out all electronics — but there are two main differences between preppers and those who built bomb shelters during the cold war.
The first is, that modern prepping is more individualistic and less community based. You see evidence of this in that during the cold war, the list of items to include in your shelter contained many things, but weapons were never one of them. With modern preppers, weapons and ammunition are high on the list — in fact, many preppers have small arsenals set aside to protect their stockpiles.
And the second difference is, that the modern day preppers are almost hoping that the disasters they are preparing for will occur. They are highly invested in them. So when the government does collapse, when modern currency no longer has value, when the world is left unprotected and vulnerable, then we will be on top of the food chain — simply because we will have the most food, water and guns.
So bad things can’t happen?
Oh absolutely they can — and probably will. But you are much more likely to lose your job, than you are of having your home attacked by a biological weapon.
You are much more likely to be in a car accident, be hurt at work, or have a major health issue, than you are of experiencing a governmental collapse.
And you are much more likely to go through a career downsizing or industrial shift where your current skill set is worth far less than it once was, than you are of experiencing a nuclear attack.
But all of these things are life altering — a layoff is not as sexy as an asteroid, but it can still do some damage if you’re not ready for it.
It was good that cold war didn’t escalate to something far worse. But the casualty of that time period is that sense of preparation didn’t migrate forward. That sense of simplicity, of basic need, didn’t trickle down through the decades.
Many years ago, a missionary couple from Africa was traveling through my hometown and was going to speak at our church. While they were there, my parents had them stay with them and while giving them a quick tour of the area, my mother stopped at the small grocery store to pick a few things up. In one of the aisles, the man just stopped talking. He froze.
“What —?” he asked, pointing at all the colored jars. “Is this?”
My mother looked to where he was pointing and answered. “Jelly,” she said. “And jams.”
He stood there. Unable to take his eyes off all the different flavors, styles and sizes of jellies and jams.
“Why,” he asked. “Would anyone need — twelve flavors of jelly?”
And he wasn’t mocking her, he wasn’t judging her. He was only asking a question — to something that he couldn’t understand.
Why would something as luxurious as jelly, something as rare as jam —- not a necessity but a true delicacy — why would you care, what flavor it was?
But we do. We do care what flavor it is. And we care how much if it we have. And we care what brand it is. And what it looks like and how we look holding it.
In Africa — food is survival.
In Europe — food is social.
In the US, food — has become something so much more.
- 32% of all homeless people, are obese. (Boston Health Care Study, 2008).
- In a 2012 study, 42% of the time that we eat, was done because we are — afraid of being hungry later
- 27% of all the food we buy, we end up throwing away — 160 Billion pounds of food each year in the US alone. And still, 75% of us are overweight and 36% of us are obese.
- The average American spends three hours a month, staring into a refrigerator; trying to determine if he is hungry or not. And during peak times, we average fifteen to twenty minutes wait time to get into a restaurant. Yet — ‘not having enough time’ is listed as the key issue for most Americans.
- A dinner in France averages two hours, and a dinner in the US averages forty minutes. Yet the obesity level in the US is twice of that in France.
- A 2011 University of Michigan study asked, how long could a person live without food? The most common belief was — 37 hours. (With water a person can live three weeks or more without food).
- The cost of eating one (1) lunch out, is equivalent to the cost of six (6) packed lunches from home. Yet the most common reason listed for people that don’t bring lunch to work is, — I don’t want to look poor.
- A Cliff energy bar has 280 calories. A Snickers candy bar has 215.
- 23% of all high income homes, eat at a restaurant once a day. 78% of all low income homes eat at a restaurant once a day.
- The average food markup at a restaurant is 300% — for a meal priced at twenty dollars or less. The average food markup for fast food is 400% — for a meal priced at six dollars or less.
- We are seven times as likely to eat at a restaurant, then we are of inviting someone to our home for a meal, or to going to someone’s home for one.
THE BOMB SHELTER DIET
A bomb shelter is safety. It is a vessel that contains the basic needs — food, shelter, water, medical supplies.
The food in a bomb shelter will have several things in common.
- It will be able to be stored for a long time — rice, pasta, oats, dried beans, can all be stored for thirty years or more.
- It will require no refrigeration.
- It will be able to be cooked in a creative and unique way.
- Each meal will cost pennies.
- It will contain little chemicals and preservatives since it will contain the basic food groups.
STEP ONE: The Bombs fall
The alarms sound. The bombs are coming. This is it.
When crisis occurs — when something bad happens — we react. We get the people we care about to safety and we get out of danger. At that point we are focused on survival and protection and we will allow nothing to get in our way.
Think of a time when a crisis unexpectedly occurred to you — the sudden death of someone close to you, a fire, a car accident, a layoff; any catastrophe that happened s quickly and without warning. When this happens — in the heat of the battle — were you thinking about food?
You could be starving only a minute before the truck veers into your lane — thinking you can barely wait until you get to the drive thru — and then wham. Six hours later you remember that you haven’t eaten.
What happens when you realize that you haven’t eaten? You are suddenly hungry again. Starving.
How many times do you see photos of people outside of their burning building with a cheeseburger in their hands? Or being treated by paramedics as they grab the last of their fries? Never. Because at that point, food is not important. At all.
- Make a list of ten (10) things you are worried about, trying to get to, concerned with or trying to achieve. These can be work goals, financial worries, family situations, or aspirations. When you have this list, keep it close to you; on your phone, in your bag — so you can get to it quickly, review, edit and add to it.
- When between meal hunger hits, take thirty minutes — this will seem like a lot at first, but it will fly by later — and work only on this list. Make phone calls, contact whoever you need to, create options, but for thirty minutes you are only focusing on these bombs; these goals, these little issues that could become large, or these large issues that you have been avoiding.
- Don’t set a timer — because you want to keep this flexible — and allow your focus to shift to what is truly important. But don’t stop until you have done at least one thing, one action, towards everything on that list.
- A few things are going to happen here. First, you are forcing yourself to see what is important, as well as what isn’t — getting food quickly into your mouth. The second is that you are reducing your appetite — which gives you freedom, which takes away the anxiety, which diffuses the food bomb.
Now this goes directly against what many nutrition experts recommend — suggesting five or more little meals a day as opposed to three larger ones. But we’re not focused on nutrition, we are looking at why we do things. And the majority of time we overeat, we do it out of reflex or boredom.
Sure there is the Thanksgiving dinner that we push ourselves back from the table and vow to never, ever eat again. But more often there are the dozens of times we finish an entire bag of potato chips in the car and not only don’t remember eating it, but are still hungry.
We have made food important in our lives. We have made it more important than our families, than our homes, than our careers and then our goals. We need to analyze things every now and then, so we can prioritize.
STEP TWO: Protein pack
In a bomb shelter you will see a lot of rice, grains and pasta. That’s true. These are inexpensive, easy to store and last forever. But you will also see plenty of dried beans, canned tuna and Salmon — because you need the protein. The starches are largely there to stretch out the meal — to make it last and to fill you up.
Sugars and starches are cheap — that’s why they are in everything. These are the foods that stimulate insulin, which sends the signal to store fat in the body. The more starches and sugars you take in, the more fat that gets produced. And when insulin levels goes down — when we take in less sugars and starches — then more fat gets burned than is stored.
The irony here is, sugars and starches make you hungry and proteins make you full. So you can actually eat less protein and feel better.
We have bought into the fact that we need to stretch meals — to add in the majority of pasta, rice or grains to make it last. We feel like we are spending too much money if at least half of the meal isn’t a starch.
So reverse the trend. Instead of the majority of the meal being starches or rice, make the majority of them the beans, eggs, fish or chicken. Eat more protein than you eat anything else.
STEP THREE: Bomb shelters are for many
The majority of time that we eat — we eat alone. Even if we’re in a separate room in a house full of people, we are still eating alone. And eating should always be a communal event.
Add to that that we eat less — when we eat with others. European meals last for hours, with the majority of this time is spent laughing, visiting, talking and having fun. The smallest part is actually the eating part.
So don’t eat alone. And I mean — ever.
That may seem crazy, but think about it.
If food goes back to being a communal event, something we do with others, then a major shift occurs. Instead of saying — what do I want to eat? We begin saying — who do I want to eat with?
And remember, a meal is simply food shared with others. It doesn’t have to be a five course meal on Waterford china, it can be a few tuna sandwiches on paper plates.
Take two weeks and vow to eat every single meal with someone else — and this includes eating in front of a TV alone, in your car alone, or picking out of a refrigerator alone.
If you can’t find someone to share a meal with — then don’t eat until you do.
STEP FOUR: Stock the bomb shelter
When the bombs of life do fall — health issues, layoffs, downsizing, family crisis — having a stockpile of basic foods takes a financial and time burden off of you. For less than a hundred dollars, you can have a several months’ supply of dry goods stored and ready.
The basics would include:
- Dried beans — lots and lots of them. These are extremely inexpensive, easy to make and loaded with protein.
- Canned tuna
- Canned salmon
- Canned chicken
- Canned vegetables
- Canned fruit
Stock these things and leave them. Use them when the end of the month rolls around and you’re creeping up on your budget, or when the bombs fall.
AND REMEMBER …
A bomb shelter is a plan. This plan can take any form; a room, a group of people or an idea. But it’s a plan to give you freedom and allow you to think while the basics are taken care of.
Food is not our bomb shelter.
Food is just one of the many things we put in it.