War Resisters League poster attacking the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe

NUCLEAR THEATER IN EUROPE (or the Saga of the Cruise, Pershing II, SS-20, and Friends). New York: War Resisters League, April 1983.
Printed in black, blue and red; 13 ¾”h x 23 3/8”w plus title and border. Bit of creasing and a small tear to right edge, very good overall.

A 1983 persuasive map by the War Resisters League, highlighting the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe. Issued at a time when NATO’s deployment of such weapons had catalyzed huge protest there and in the United States.

This is one of a suite of anti-nuclear maps published in the 1970s and-80s by the War Resisters League. Founded in 1923 and still active today, the League is “the oldest secular pacifist organization in the United States” (Wikipedia). Over nearly a century, it has resisted American involvement in wars abroad and campaigned domestically for civil rights and against the military-industrial complex. It was deeply involved in the 1980s protests against the Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles.

The map, vividly colored in black, blue and red, depicts the northern tier of Europe crowded with nuclear weapons, with different symbols representing submarine-launched missiles, Pershing II and Warsaw Pack SS-20 missiles, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and ground-launched cruise missiles. A chart at left lists the range and explosive power of each type and explains the use of the symbols on the map: “Each group of symbols indicates one site or submarine. Numeral within each grouping indicates number of missiles per site or submarine. (Exception: Pershing II numeral indicates number of launchers.)”

Frankly, the effect is both somewhat confusing and perhaps willfully misleading: The proliferation of symbols in Western Europe suggests that NATO nuclear forces vastly outnumber those of the Warsaw Pact; closer inspection of the numbers, on the other hand, reveals something much nearer to parity. A block of text at lower left only muddies the poster’s intended message:

“There is considerable uncertainty (and dispute) not only as to the numbers and their locations, but also what to include or exclude in the European “balance.”…. The information comes from a variety of sources, all of which conflict (to some degree) with each other.”

Ultimately, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan, banned land-based missiles with ranges of 500-5500 kilometers, including most of the weapons systems shown on this map.

As of April 2020, OCLC gives four institutional holdings under three accession numbers.