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I remember learning about a Russian city where, during the Cold War, top politicians and scientists and their families would be evacuated to. It would have existed as a normal city outside of Cold War era ICBM range from the US, and I believe it still had the children of the high ranking people living there in the 1990's and 2000's, but I'm not sure about currently.

I've tried searching, but I can't seem to find anything that supports this. Is there something to it?

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    Where did you learn about this place? I would have thought that evacuating all of your top politicians and scientists to the same place raises the possibility that a single strike in the right place would wipe them all out.
    – Steve Bird
    Jul 20, 2022 at 21:33
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    "During the cold war" (secret cities, ongoing work/research) or "in case the bomb is released" (emergency shelter, futile measure to try to ensure survival)? Jul 20, 2022 at 21:44
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    Please preferably edit the Q with updates (instead of commenting). So that means, 'they' would have been/_were_ 'there' actually for quite a while, in 'peace time', regularly, not as a planned option for eventualities? Jul 20, 2022 at 22:09
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    Possibly related? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_city
    – Brian Z
    Jul 20, 2022 at 22:52
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    Safe city where the children of the elite are living? That would be Geneva, Switzerland.
    – SPavel
    Jul 21, 2022 at 13:47

1 Answer 1

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Most likely it's a myth.

First, nothing is "outside of ICBM range".

The so-called "closed cities" were primarily nuclear production or research sites.1 They were presumably on the primary hit list and were hardly a "safe haven" in case of a nuclear war. In peacetime though living there was a privilege as the supply standards were (much) higher than elsewhere.2 But this was hardly a concern for "children of the high ranking people".

If such "safe haven" city existed, it would surely be known and would be added to the hit list.

Moscow was the only city (with surroundings) protected by the anti-ICBM system. So it was probably the safer place to be (of the cities with acceptable living standards for such people).

Personally, after living in the USSR (and in a "closed city"), I've never heard of such arrangement. Everyone wanted to be in Moscow.

Surely, emergency evacuation plans existed. But the situation was never dire enough (after the early 60s at least) to start evacuating children preemptively.


1 Not to be confused with many border cities or larger industrial cities were foreigners were not admitted. They often went under the same moniker of a "closed city". But the dozen or so "real ones" were closed even for Soviet citizens. They usually had code names and were not even shown on maps.

2 Except perhaps Moscow, another very privileged city with restricted access (for migration).

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    @T.E.D. - Los Alamos was a closed town until 1957. Even though people know about it, unless you had a pass you got turned back at the gate, some ways away from the town itself. In the same way I suspect that USSR closed towns had access control well before one got to the town. And folks just driving around Russia for fun was much less prevalent than in the US.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:22
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    Such towns exist today. We just call them military bases. Jul 21, 2022 at 20:57
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    @T.E.D. yes. Entire cities were completely fenced off. Of course, locals knew about it, but for any Soviet citizen, just stumbling over an unidentified fence in the middle of nowhere wouldn't be surprising. Sometimes, there would be an adjacent 'normal' town with its train station etc. which was on the map (think about West Berlin disappearing from maps). Of course, nowadays you can (virtually) explore such places in painful detail.
    – Zeus
    Jul 22, 2022 at 2:28
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    @T.E.D.: I don't think someone could just "... [drive] through the USSR could presumably just stumble over an entire city" back in the Soviet days. You needed a pass for internal travel (from memory). I know that even now (well, maybe 5-10 years ago), as a foreigner, if you get a visa to enter the country, the visa includes where you can go. My daughter spent 8 weeks in a Siberian town for training and I suggested she take the Trans Siberian Express one way (there was a stop there). She didn't want to go, but she asked and was told that it would require a new visa
    – Flydog57
    Jul 22, 2022 at 21:46
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    @Flydog57, no, it wasn't that hard. As a Soviet citizen, you may have needed a pass (or local residence) close to the border, but otherwise travelling throughout the USSR was easy and didn't need permission. (Everyone had and needed a passport with the residence address stamped, though). Proportionally, not many could "drive through the USSR" simply because not many had a car, and the road infrastructure was poor (especially farther east). But kayaking, mountain climbing, multi-day bushwalking, etc. was extremely popular, and in such travels one could easily encounter an unexpected fence.
    – Zeus
    Jul 24, 2022 at 5:55

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