Soviet Cold War Maps: examining the organization and practices of production through the case of Denmark

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


During the Cold War, the Soviet military carried out an ambitious mapping programme, which resulted in a series of topographic maps with global coverage. Although recent advances in scholarship have increased our knowledge of the production of these maps, we still know little about the organization of these efforts, or the collection and dissemination of the vast quantities of geographical data. Based on information from the margins of a set of 466 1:50,000-scale Soviet military topographic maps of Denmark from the Map Collection at the Royal Danish Library, this article examines the Soviet mapping practices related to the large-scale mapping of Denmark. Results show that the Soviet military secretly compiled large-scale topographic maps of Danish territory from the early 1950s until the late 1980s. The maps were initially based on published maps from Denmark, but later the Soviets began to prefer remote-sensed data from satellite imagery. The use of remote-sensed imagery allowed the Soviet mapmakers to capture information about concealed military infrastructure not contained in the Danish maps. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the maps were updated and reprinted several times during this period. The results also show the potential for using information from the margins of the map sheets as a starting point for a transnational analysis of the Soviet mapping practice during the Cold War.
TidsskriftCartographic Journal
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)300-314
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 2020