If the War Comes

International Conference, Aalborg University, Denmark, May 27-29, 2020

Conference Themes

  • Public interaction with the state regarding civil defense and the threat of nuclear war. Public interaction spans uniformed service as well as peace activism and other civil society activities, and may have a national/transnational and/or international perspective. 
  • Government and civil shelters as Cold War cultural history, including the material history of civil defense as well as the psychological preparedness and public campaigns to prepare for and act during a possible nuclear attack. 
  • Nuclear Cold War technology from a science and technology (STS) perspective. 
  • Theoretical aspects of writing the history of past futures (imagined futures) in a Cold War setting. 
  • How to exhibit and narrate Cold War civil defense and civil society history.

Keynote Speakers

Matthew Grant, Reader, Dept. of History, University of Essex (GB), Marie Cronqvist, Associate Professor, Lund University (S), and Heike Hollunder, Museumsleiterin, Dokumentationsstätte Regierungsbunker Bonn (D).


‘If the war comes’ (‘Hvis krigen kommer’) was the title of a pamphlet distributed by the Danish prime minister’s office to every single household in Denmark in January 1962, instructing the citizens of Denmark about how to prepare for and act during a possible nuclear attack.  

It is also the title of a joint research project between Aalborg University, the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland, Cold War Museum Langeland and Stevnsfort Cold War Museum. The  project is funded by the VELUX FOUNDATION, the Danish Ministry of Culture, Denmark (The Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces) as well as Aalborg University and the involved museums. 

‘If the war comes’ researches the history of Danish nuclear culture, including civil defense in Denmark, and not least the history behind the building of REGAN Vest. The construction of the government bunker REGAN Vest was completed in 1968 and until the end of the Cold War REGAN Vest served as the main shelter for the Danish government and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in case of a nuclear war.

Call for Papers (Link)