CONELRAD Atomic Hygiene: Cold War Short Subject Films


This infamous red scare film was put together from television newsreel footage of the May 1960 House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings in San Francisco, its attendant student protests, and the riotous police action (fire hoses used on City Hall protesters) that followed.

Operation Abolition was widely screened (one source put the total viewership at 8 million) and helped put Berkely and its activist culture on the map, eventually becoming a cult movie for its wild conspiratorial

Author Jo Freeman [At Berkeley in the Sixties: Education of an Activist, 1961-1965] writes "HUAC saw enormous propaganda value in the student protests and subpoenaed television film of the demonstrations. The resulting film, Operation Abolition, was made part of HUACís official report and shown to millions all over the country. Juxtaposing clips of protesting students next to Communists who had been subpoenaed by the Committee, the film said the demonstrations were Communist led and inspired. Operation Abolition put Berkeley on the map as the protest capital of the country; for years to come it attracted politically conscious students to come to where the action was. Both the campus administration and the University Regents were appalled at the film, but Cal students could only see and discuss it off campus. Even faculty members were not allowed to show and discuss the film within the campus borders." [LINK]

Bill Mandel, the longtime KPFA-Pacifica radio commentator and activist who testified at the HUAC hearings recalls: "It briefly made me a national figure among youth. My testimony often had an effect opposite from that intended by the film-makers. Thirty-five years later, an aging San Francisco street poet told me that he, a student in Minnesota, went with his buddy, named Zimmerman, to see the film. It turned them against the Establishment. His friend became known to the world as Bob Dylan."

The answer film OPERATION CORRECTION made by the ACLU is available from the Prelinger Archives.

B&W - 16mm
45 minutes


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