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    John F. Kennedy: Personal "Victory Map" Used During the Cuban Missile Crisis. 54.5" x 21" extended map (irregularly trimmed, two sheets spliced together with Scotch tape), titled "La Habana (Havana) Santiago De Cuba". Printed by the Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers, it has eight different "sticker" symbols applied representing Soviet MIG jets, Komar-class missile boats, IL-28 bombers, SS-4 missiles, SSM-Cruise missiles and nuclear storage sites. The information represented by this map was supplied by U-2 spy planes, confirming President Kennedy's worse fears. The map is marked SECRET in the lower left corner and upper right corner. The attached 10.5" x 8" key-to-the-map (attached with two paper clips) encompasses two pages. The Soviet military build-up is summarized according to sites, number of launchers and number of missiles, either complete & operational or close-to-complete. The key is dated dated October 27, 1962, corresponding to perhaps the tensest moment in the crisis.

    In the annals of the Cold War, no event is more talked about and debated than the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 16, 1962 to October 28, 1962. It is considered the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. The precursor was the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, supported by President Kennedy and the C.I.A. Castro asked Soviet Premier Khrushchev to permit the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba as a deterrent to another invasion of the island. Once accomplished, this greatly increased tensions in the U.S. A naval blockade was imposed to prevent further shipments of arms. Military forces were put on DEFCON-2 alert, the highest level ever ordered. Advisors to the President considered a nuclear strike. The Joint Chiefs of Staff advised a preemptive air strike to destroy Soviet assets. Castro asked Khrushchev to launch nuclear missiles against the U.S. should they invade. On the morning of the 27th, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba and two U.S. destroyers dropped depth charges on a Soviet submarine, forcing it to surface. Had Kennedy given the order, this map shows the nine Soviet targets U. S. warplanes would have bombed. Finally, a deal was brokered between Kennedy and Khrushchev (through Robert Kennedy and Anatoly Dobrynin) in which the the Soviets would dismantle their missiles and installations in Cuba (the U.S. secretly agreeing to dismantle Jupiter missiles in Turkey) with the U.S. pledging to never invade Cuba again. A Washington, D.C. to Moscow hotline was also established to facilitate communication in future crises.

    The consignor was given this map by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approximately 20 years ago. McNamara claimed the President pored over this map before deciding to delay the attack. When the crisis was resolved, Kennedy presented this map to McNamara, calling it his "Victory Map". McNamara told the consignor that "this was the only time he ever heard Kennedy say anything that sounded like gloating about how the crisis ended." Sold together with a signed and notarized Letter of Provenance from the consignor (the full text of the LOA is provided in the extended online description). It would be hard to overstate the historical significance of this map. It gives new meaning to the phrase "Holding history in ones hands."

    More Information:

    Text of letter of provenance:

    This "victory map" was given to me about twenty years ago by Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.


    During a meeting at his office, McNamara described for me the pressure President John Kennedy was under from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to order an attack on Soviet targets in Cuba. McNamara said the president pored over this map before deciding to delay the attack.


    The map shows the position of every Soviet missile, bomber and fighter jet and nuclear storage facility in Cuba as of noon on Saturday, October 27, 1962. This was the most dangerous moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis.


    October 27 was the day the crisis came within hours, even minutes, of triggering a war between the United States and Soviet Union. That morning, a Soviet anti-air missile shot down a U-2 spy plane on a photo reconnaissance mission over Cuba. Many years later, the Cubans claimed Fidel Castro himself pushed the button to fire the missile.


    Later that afternoon, two U.S. destroyers dropped depth charges on a Soviet submarine. At last minute, the Soviet captain surfaced his submarine, his other option being to launch his missiles against the U.S. mainland. When the sun set that evening, McNamara wondered if he'd be alive to see the following Saturday's sunset.


    Kennedy's ExCom meet three times on this Saturday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed for an air strike against the Soviet missile sites and other targets. Had Kennedy given the order, this map shows the nine Soviet targets U.S. warplanes would have bombed. But overnight, everything changed.


    Relying on a letter from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin hammered out a deal. The Soviets agreed to withdraw their missiles and other offensive weapons in return for the U.S. pledging not to invade Cuba. The U.S. secretly promised to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey. The nine targets on the map became the weapons the U.S. forced out of Cuba.


    When Kennedy presented the map to McNamara, he called it the "victory map." During my meeting with McNamara, he said this was the only time he ever heard Kennedy say anything that sounded like gloating about how the crisis ended.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2017
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,375

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