Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

March 6, 2008

World War III Dreams, Nightmares, Fictions, Films

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:39 pm

For a project I’m working on I’d like to hear from people who have had or are having World War III dreams and nightmares. Recently and during the Cold War. Have they increased lately.?. What scenarios, what outcomes?

And what works of fiction and film– On the Beach, The Road Strangelove–have figured most powerfully in shaping your waking and dreaming visions?



  1. I experienced 9/11 in the East Village. Since then I have had a similar dream, average of twice a month: my wife and I are in the vista of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (upper Manhattan). We are trying to get downtown, under aerial bombardment. The more we try to get downtown by bus, subway, taxi, the more new vistas open up, thoroughfares become more complex, bombing increase, no progress. A final bomb hits, I wake up.

    Comment by charlie finch — March 6, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  2. During much of the cold war I was dreaming of Hayley Mills. Later, in the 1970’s, while I was in law school, almost every night for three years I dreamed of being in Viet Nam. The dream was always the same: I was the only remaining American soldier in a village under attack by the Viet Cong and I went from hut to hut first hiding from the Viet Cong and then, sometimes, killing them. In line with your question, later, when I saw the movie Platoon, it was eerily reminiscent of my dreams. So much so, in fact, that I could barely sit through it. In retrospect, I should have used my dreams as a screen play. Instead, I wrote briefs.

    Comment by Mark Van Wagoner — March 6, 2008 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  3. I think the horror weapons have eliminated those kind of wars. Pakistan or Iran could stumble into a regional war of hellish proportions if they fall into irrational, i.e. anti-survival, leadership.

    Comment by Mo Cohen — March 7, 2008 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  4. Armageddon dreams. The defining moment for me was an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer (or maybe it was the old Philadelphia Bulletin) Sunday magazine, back in 1981, when I was eleven years old. It vividly described the effects of the detonation of a one-megaton hydrogen bomb on a spring day in 1984 in downtown Philadelphia, with one of those bulls-eye maps of the effects of a nuclear explosion. You know: “total destruction” in the red, Ground Zero center, and decreasing amounts of fire, shock wave and radiation as you move through the outer bands. I tried rather obsessively to figure out which of the bands my home in suburban Havertown was in (I was that kind of kid); it seemed we straddled two of the outer bands.

    I could never figure out why the other kids in my public school were seemingly oblivious to the danger. As a teenager, I was a passionate supporter of the nuclear freeze movement. I read Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth (parts of it, anyway), and lots of grotesque apocalyptic science fiction on the aftermath of “World War III.” I wrote several bad poems on the subject. Oddly enough I did not watch “The Day After” when it ran on TV in 1984; I think my parents may have kept me away from it, knowing how obsessive I was on the subject. These days, I never understand the pundits who are always mourning the lost stability of the Cold War; don’t they remember the constant background fear that “the end of the world” could happen at any moment?

    But did I actually dream about nuclear war, as a kid? Not that I recall. Eerily enough, though, about a week before 9/11 I dreamed that I was riding in a car with my then-wife driving and my little sons in the back seat, and there was a bomb about to explode, hidden under an arch-shaped wooden toy block that the kids had put on that little shelf behind the rear passenger seats, where they were always throwing their toys.

    Thanks. By the way I know several other people who had strange pre 9/11 dreams that seemed like foreshadowing. Anyone else?

    Comment by Martin Gidron — March 7, 2008 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  5. I’ve not had these dreams myself, but it occurs to me you might get a decent response by asking the owner of if he could post your request on that site. Survivalblog has a dedicated readership, including a decent international audience. The theme of the blog is individual preparation for a short- to medium- or long-term collapse of civilization.

    Comment by David — March 7, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  6. Great question Ron. I was one of those duck and cover kids of the early 50’s. This was in Ontario by the way. I wonder if Americans realize that the fear of nuclear war was as potent north of the border as south. Canadians did build bomb shelters.
    I did see On The Beach when it first came-out and was troubled by it. But no dreams that I can recall.
    Also saw Dr. Strangelove but that film was a hoot. No dreams there.
    But lately I have found myself having daydreams about facing a bunch of jihadis with my crusader sword. Hell, I’m 65 and probably couldn’t even lift one of those swords.
    I think it’s about the MSM showing these jihadi guys degrading both men and women with there stoning and hanging and beheading. It’s the kind of barbarism that sticks in the mind.
    I don’t currently have a crusader sword but maybe it’s time. Oh, and a Glock of course. One can’t be too prepared.
    Damn, Glocks are illegal in Canada but swords are okay. Maybe I could make a trade with one of my American cousins.
    Anybody got an extra Glock out there?

    Comment by BrianN — March 8, 2008 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  7. The left has decided that self defense is warmongering. My response to RollingStone article, McCain Resurrected.

    Comment by laree lee — March 8, 2008 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

  8. Some years ago (maybe 10, 15?), I would dream of a nuclear bomb going off in New York City, where I lived, maybe once every six months or so. In the dream, I was almost always looking out my big bedroom window, which had a wide cityscape view of Manhattan, when the bomb exploded. And that was always the end of the dream. As far as I can remember, whatever had come before during the dream wasn’t related to the bomb; it just suddenly inserted itself into whatever else was happening. Oddly, when I would wake up, it wasn’t as if I’d had a major nightmare, just a slightly unpleasant psychic jolt. I don’t recall having had that dream for many years now (I moved out of NYC, where I’d been living for 50+ years, to the Jersey shore seven years ago, but I think the dream had stopped well before then).

    Comment by Swift Loris — March 8, 2008 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  9. I never had a dream about the Towers falling but, I’m a little ashamed to say now, I used to joke about it. Living 10 blocks uptown from the WTC, I used to wonder, aloud, if that’s far enough away if they toppled over. Who knew they were going to do such a compact job of it when the time came?

    I’m surprised, but my WWIII dreams haven’t increased lately. But they certainly spiked during the Reagan years. I was convinced we were gonners . . .

    I suppose I’ve been influenced by all the usual suspects in the field of nuke porn. Movies, certainly Dr. Strangelove, On the Beach, Fail Safe and Seven Days in May. (And yet, I also remember from a young age being aware of the nuclear context to a lot of “B” films like The Incredible Shrinking Man and even Godzilla. Maybe it was just a convenient/lazy metaphor, but you’ll find a nuclear trigger, if you, will behind many 50s and early 60s horror films, for example.)

    Books: I read The Button after reading Subterranean World of the Bomb and, for a while, I became obsessed with the mechanics of blowing up the world. Not so much the why, but the how. That’s not for the feint of heart, let me tell you. Looking back, I’m more surprised it didn’t happen, considering how easily it could have.

    Yet my earliest impressions of nuclear war were shaped by something else altogether. I can’t shake all those post-apocalyptic Twilight Zones that probably aired just when I was becoming aware of what it meant to be blown away . . . mind blown . . . or, well, you know, it’s your line. What’s striking about those shows, though, is that a post-nuclear exchange metropolis was often all in one piece. There was a lot of paper strewn around (shades of 9/11) . . . maybe a few wrecked cars . . . but only occasionally was it a world of rubble. And I never remember it being a world of suffering. There just weren’t any people. Usually just the protagonist. Who had somehow avoided the explosions and emerges from some kind of shelter to find himself all alone. When I was 8 years old, I think I imagined megatonnage and radiation made you lonely.

    Comment by Ed — March 10, 2008 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  10. I also dream of a nuclear bomb in a city like New York. I dream of the United States being under martial law with people of all nations, races, and faiths placed in concentration camps. Simply for disagreeing with policy. I dream of earthquakes that result in Arizona being ocean front land. A major flood that displaces pieces of the Statue Of Liberty to the West Coast. I’ve been having these dreams since I was ten. They increased in frequency in 1993 and ever since. At times they are visions where I struggle to wake and can’t even move. Other dreams that are connected are of a huge fireball that hits an ocean. It does devastating damage to many parts of the planet but not to some.

    Comment by — May 17, 2008 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  11. I had dream I was in New York City with my husband. We were trying to escape because all around there was chaos. This was 5 years before World Trade Center.

    I had dream recently July 6, 2008 of missiles coming up from ground. Nuclear missiles- they were two missiles coming up and I was very afraid looking at them. It was a vision. I never have seen nuclear missiles before yet they are exactly the way they were in dream.

    Then, a couple of nights after I heard “DANGER”

    I also had dream of rider on black horse. People were loosing their homes everywhere on the streets everywhere.

    I am confirming that I believe yes, this is highly possible.

    My grandfather saw WW II before it came and buried car engines, saving the inhabitants of Greece and making medicines in his basement, knowing five years before the war was coming. People laughed and mocked him for being “strange” He was brilliant because he had created storage facilities of medicine, preserved food, and had emergency medical supplies on hand. He had grown much food to feed people during the famine that came with WW II where people starved.

    Comment by Maria Karalis — July 15, 2008 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  12. I am 36 years old and used to have lots of dreams about nuclear war back in the 1980’s. However it seems lately they have been coming back and am averaging 2-3 per week. Lately the dreams have been so clear and realistic that I wake up startled unsure if it was real or not. All my nuclear war dreams involve me being in my home and alerted by sirens or TV that a nuclear attack is under way. The home I am in always changes in each of the dreams. After this my dream consists of me rushing into the basement with as many supplies as I can. I usually wake up after the bombs start exploding. I would say my dreams resemble the moments before the nuclear explosions happen in BBC’s 1984 film Threads. Absolutely the scariest nuclear war movie I have ever seen

    Comment by Thomas — January 14, 2009 @ 9:14 am | Reply

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