The most dangerous moment in the Cold War, indeed the most dangerous moment in human history, according to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., occurred in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when tensions between US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev were at their height. The US discovered that the Soviets were harboring missiles in Cuba pointed at the US and demanded they be removed immediately. The Soviets initially refused.
During this showdown, a Soviet B-59 submarine between Cuba and the Caribbean thought it was under hot pursuit if not attack from the US Navy. Having lost contact with Moscow for days, three officers had agreed they would decide together, unanimously, what they would do in situations like this. The captain favored a nuclear first strike against the US Navy, as did the political officer. But Vasili Arkipov, the second in command on board the B-59, refused to authorize the nuclear torpedo attack on the US Navy. After several hours, he persuaded the ship’s captain to surface and await orders from Moscow.
The BBC produced a documentary, spotlighting Arkhipov as “the man who saved the world.”
Who is the greatest person that history has forgotten? Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. Russian officer who averted WWIII in 1983.