Bunker 42/Бункер 42
5-й Котельнический пер., 11, Москва
Hours and costs vary, check website for details
Student Tours: ~700 rubles
One of my favorite excursions arranged by SRAS as part of our cultural program in Moscow was this dark little surprise, Bunker 42. The exterior is very well marked with a giant red star, but otherwise plain, with no actual sign. We were joking a bit as we arrived, about how we were penetrating the Soviet bunker. We were still joking as we walked down the seemingly endless flights of stairs, marked -7,-8,-9. But we were no longer joking by the time we got to -17. Suddenly the excursion became much more somber, though increasingly absorbing.
They showed us a brief film about the nuclear arms race between the USSR and USA. This would be interesting for anyone, but if you’ve learned any history, it will fascinate you to hear it told from the Soviet side. They show a lot of really terrifying footage of the capabilities of atomic, hydrogen, and mega bombs. The film also touches on the Cuban Missile crisis.
Bunker 42 was meant to have every capability to sustain life in the event of nuclear attack, and those systems are still functional. It was also a military command center, and the museum shows the rooms just as they would be in that capacity. We saw the actual button that would have released a nuclear missile. Also on display were various types of missile design, a model of the entire shelter showing its underground structure, and a lot of the original command center equipment.
They also terrified us with simulations that were at times quite realistic, showing what the nuclear release sequence would have sounded like, or how air-raid drills were performed.
This tour will remind you of the severity and effect of nuclear weapons. At a time when people all over the world casually use belligerent words, Bunker 42 is a great reminder that the Cold War was a fearful and unstable time for both of our countries. It will also renew your determination that we should never go back.