Cold War fears revisited in Danish nuclear bunker

Hidden deep in northern Denmark’s Rold Forest, a sprawling top-secret nuclear bunker is opening to the public for the first time, shedding light on daily life during the Cold War.

The underground shelter, where everything is still intact as in a time capsule, becomes a museum from Monday, amid revived fears in Europe of a nuclear conflict following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The bunker was built between 1963 and 1968 at NATO’s insistence, following Soviet nuclear tests and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Dubbed “Regan West”, it was designed to house the Danish government and the sitting monarch in the event of nuclear war.

Nestled beneath trees, 60 metres (200 feet) under a chalk hill, it was meant to be “the last bastion” of democracy in Denmark, museum director Lars Christian Norbach told AFP.

Located almost 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of Copenhagen, the bunker was set up to house Danish authorities for 30 days.

“The H-bomb totally altered the situation about how you could react to a nuclear attack”, museum curator and historian Bodil Frandsen told AFP.

“The bunkers you already had could in no way withstand the blast from that. So you had to do something new”, she said.

The survival of the government in the event of a nuclear disaster was essential to the nation’s sovereignty, she noted.

“As long as you could have a government here that could claim control of at least some part of the country, and you have a government still rooted in Denmark, then Denmark, as a sovereign democratic state, was still alive”, Frandsen explained.

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