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Questions tagged [soviet-union]

The Soviet Union or USSR (1922–1991) was a socialist state in Eurasia. After the 1924 death of founding leader Lenin (who led the October Revolution in 1917), Stalin established a planned economy and suppressed political opposition. After World War II, the Soviet Union emerged as one of the world's two superpowers, opposing the USA in the Cold War. 1980s leader Gorbachev attempted reform with perestroika and glasnost but the country collapsed in 1991.

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191
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34answers
172k views

Why did Hitler attack the Soviet Union when he was still busy fighting the United Kingdom?

During World War 2, Hitler was fighting a war with Great Britain, but while fighting that war, he attacked the Soviet Union. Everyone knows that having to fight on two opposite fronts at once is bad......
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Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
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Why did the USSR give Crimea to Ukraine?

In 1954 Soviets transferred Crimea from Russian Soviet Republic to Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Why is this strange? The whole act, at least officially, was meant to be "a gift", a token of friendship....
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How did the USSR manage to innovate in an environment characterized by government censorship and high bureaucracy?

Despite the high bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, some design bureaus still achieved spectacular feats in science and engineering (mostly in defense and aerospace) e.g. Mir space station, Soyuz ...
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Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

The Germans had some of the best machine guns and tanks during World War II. Likewise, the Americans had a big advantage with the M1 Garand (which Patton famously called "The greatest battle implement ...
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Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

Generally, Communism believed in economic central planning, with each field being serviced by one "company" (to avoid waste). Why was it that the Soviet Union had multiple airplane manufacturers, ...
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In the Soviet Union, why was the Cheka renamed so many times?

The Cheka was the secret police of the USSR. Wikipedia maintains a list of the Cheka and its subsequent renamings: 1917: Cheka 1922: GPU 1923: OGPU 1934: NKVD 1941: NKGB 1941: NKVD (again) 1943: NKGB ...
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What did Germany do in World War II about the different rail gauge in the Soviet Union?

One reason it was so hard for Germany to invade Russia/the Soviet Union in World War II (and I) was because the Russians had a different (wider) railroad gauge than that of most of the rest of Europe, ...
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Why did the Soviet Union name their strongest bomb Tsar Bomba?

The Soviet Union has/had the most powerful (Hydrogen) Bomb ever, the Tsar Bomb. Why did they name it Tsar Bomb, when they had freed themself from the Tsars before, and even executed Tsar Nicholas II?
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Did the Soviet army intentionally send troops (e.g. penal battalions) running over minefields?

You can hear this story/claim stated in various way, from just regular troops doing it, to just penal battalions, to strenuous denial nobody ever did this in the Soviet army. (Just look at a Quora ...
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Was the Wehrmacht a mechanized army?

I read random descriptions of Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, and I got the impression that besides tanks, the armies carried with them millions of horses and that the bulk of the soldiers were ...
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Why did the Soviet Union lift the Berlin Blockade?

Between 24th June 1948 and 12th May 1949 land routes into West Berlin were blocked by Soviet forces and West Berliners were supplied entirely by air (the famous Berlin Airlift). No one connected with ...
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What was the reason for Soviet troops to withdraw from Yugoslavia in World War II?

For all these countries that the Red Army entered (Poland, Romania, part of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary), the procedure was straightforward. Once the Soviets beat the Germans they become de facto ...
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What was the role of the Soviet Navy during WWII?

Most books about WWII speak of the naval battles of Allied and Axis powers during the war, but none about the Soviet Navy. The Soviets had an active fleet at the time - why did it not engage the ...
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Given their reputation for fighting to the last man in the Pacific, why did 700,000 Japanese troops surrender in Manchuria?

I just read this. It says: On August 8, 1945 ... the Soviet Union launched the invasion of Manchuria, a massive military operation mobilizing 1.5 million soldiers against one million Kwantung Army ...
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What was the internal Soviet reaction to the moon landing?

The Soviet Union was a famously restrictive place when it came to news and ideological spin, and obviously their attitude toward the United States was less than supportive and warm. The Space Race ...
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What are the text and subtext of this 1949 Soviet cartoon?

Over on Wikipedia, we find this cover from the March 1949 issue of Soviet satire mag Krokodil: The person who uploaded it to Wikipedia captioned it "Antisemitic caricature of rootless cosmopolitan." ...
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Why did the Soviet Union close its borders and restrict travel abroad?

It was virtually impossible for citizens of Soviet Union to move or travel abroad. Only some ethnic minorities (e.g. Jewish) with family members abroad could move out, yet with great difficulty. Why ...
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Did Churchill and Roosevelt know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the following secret pacts between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany prior to, and during WWII. It seems that the actions of the two countries after the invasion of Poland ...
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Did the U.S. and Soviet Union have a submarine battle in 1968?

There are books and articles about the Soviet submarine K-129 and the USS Scorpion in 1968, with various stories of attempted nuclear attacks and reprisals. Is there a factual narrative about these ...
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Why hasn't Russia maintained significant numbers of aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. This is reflective of the past, in which we saw that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft ...
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Why was Kaliningrad placed under the Russian SFSR rather than the Lithuanian SSR?

Kaliningrad was (and still is) Russia's only (non-trivial*) exclave. Why did Stalin and the Soviet leaders transfer Kaliningrad to the Russian SFSR rather than the Lithuanian SSR (with which ...
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Did Stalin believe Israel would go communist?

In Anne Applebaum's recent book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 she claims the USSR supported the new state of Israel and states "Stalin believed Israel would quickly join the ...
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Why did Stalin and the Soviet leadership have Leon Trotsky assassinated?

Leon Trotsky was killed with a mountaineering ice axe in Mexico. The method of murder chosen was interesting. If he was a political fugitive in far off Mexico, why bother dealing with him? What about ...
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When planning Barbarossa, did Germany conceive of the Soviet migration of heavy industry?

Wikipedia has a very tiny article on this. Basically, when Barbarossa was launched, the Soviet Union started evacuating the factories. They were migrated to places beyond the Ural Mountains. I'm ...
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Why did the Soviet Union get 3 seats in the UN?

Even before the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Belarus (which were then officially part of the Soviet Union) had independent seats at the United Nations. Why didn't the US or the UK get the ...
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Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

I've just listened to the short BBC News audio podcast clip How British academics spied on the superpowers: Tim O’Brien from the Jodrell Bank radio telescope discusses 50 year old recordings which ...
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What was the ratio of German to Soviet losses on Eastern front during different stages of the war?

I've read somewhere that the ratio of Soviet to German casualties on the Eastern front was 1.4 for the whole war. But what about data for different stages of the war? (this ratio wasn't constant after ...
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Why did Stalin keep the famine of 1932 a secret?

The famine of 1932 took millions of lives, before the Soviet authorities took some measures to alleviate the lives of the peasants. During the whole time, and for decades afterwards, the affair was ...
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Who taught Russian in Eastern-bloc satellite countries?

After the USSR gained many satellites countries in central/eastern Europe in 1945, Russian became obligatory at school. It seems those Russian courses were highly unpopular and only a small minority ...
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What happened to US's Lend-Lease machinery given to the Soviet Union?

Although most sources say that the Russians were supplied with great amounts of equipment and food as part of Lend-Lease program, I have not in all my years living in Russia seen US labeled machinery. ...
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Was public transportation free in the Soviet Union?

Was public transportation free in the Soviet Union? I'm interested in the metros and buses. If not, what did they cost? I'm most interested in the period around the late 1950's, early 1960's, but it ...
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How true is the statement “Soviet troops got into Berlin riding American trucks, walking in American boots and using American trains”?

In other words, how significant was American lend-lease in helping the Soviet front? Would the Soviets be suffering a lot more had lend-lease not happen, or was it not as significant as people make ...
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2answers
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Did Stalin kill all Soviet officers involved in the Winter War?

Did Stalin kill all of the Soviet officers involved in the Winter War, when it ended? A documentary called "Warlords: Hitler vs Stalin" made this claim, but Wikipedia doesn't seem to mention this. ...
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How popular was the Soviet Union?

How much popular support was there in the Soviet Union? How did this popular support increase and decrease with time? Here is an infographic that sort of summarizes my question. It shows that even at ...
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Were there any attempts to assassinate Joseph Stalin?

Were there any attempts to assassinate Stalin? I haven't learned of any attempt to kill him, was he so brutal that no one tried to kill him?
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1answer
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Why did the Soviet Union not “grant” Inner Mongolia to Mongolia after World War Two?

In the brief Soviet anti-Japanese campaign of 1945, Soviet and Mongol troops entered Inner Mongolia. Mongolia itself had been essentially a client state of the Soviet Union since 1921. Also the ...
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Which was the last major war in which horse mounted cavalry actually participated in active fighting?

Which was the last major war in which horses were used for frequent fighting? Why were these horses used, and about how many were there? This is not a duplicate of the question (When was the last ...
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Why did the Germans forbid the possession of pet pigeons in Rostov-on-Don in 1941?

Photograph made by Max Alpert shows a dead boy holding a pigeon. It seems that the child has been tortured before he was killed. Source: Federal Archive Agency of Russia, Russian state archive of ...
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What was the liquor that was based on petrol which was produced in the USSR during the Second World War?

I have a 1971 Spanish edition of the book "Stuka Pilot" by Hans-Ulrich Rudel where he recounts his memories of war. In the second chapter, in which he talks about the first combats of "Operation ...
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Did American policymakers seriously consider scaling down Lend Lease Aid to the Soviet Union after the battle of Kursk?

In 1941, Senator (and future President) Harry Truman famously said, "If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany." ...
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What happened to Soviet citizens on Finnish territory before and during winter war?

How many Soviet citizens were on Finnish territory immediately before the Winter War? Other than diplomats. I suppose there would have been trading officials, some engineering personnel etc. What ...
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Did the poor performance of the Red Army in the Winter War significantly contribute to German underestimation of the USSR's military capacity?

Wikipedia says in the article on the Winter War: Perhaps more importantly, the very poor performance of the Red Army encouraged Hitler to think that an attack on the Soviet Union would be ...
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Why did Stalin push for the Great Purge against the Red Army in 1936?

From what we now know of Stalin, he seemed to believe in the basics of Marxist-Leninism. As a communist, didn't he fear that killing his own military's leadership would seriously endanger the world's ...
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Why did the Germans not encircle and besiege Stalingrad?

The Germans spent a large amount of manpower in adverse territory for this city, even after long exhausting continuous combat. After the war, Kliest wrote: The capture of Stalingrad was ...
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Was German ever an official language in the USSR?

What can be said about historical perspective of this document, seemingly composed in German?
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Is there any evidence to support the claim that the US Strategic Defense Initiative played any significant role in undermining the USSR?

I have been reading Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson, and one of the things that stuck me was a quote by Soviet hydrogen bomb creator Andrei Sakharov who was released from political imprisonment ...
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3answers
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How did the Soviets decide what to annex in WW2?

During and after World War II Soviet Union annexed some countries while others eventually became member states of the Warsaw Pact. What is known about how the Soviets made the decisions about which ...
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Was Kaliningrad offered to the Lithuanian SSR; was this offer rejected; and if so, why?

This is a follow up to this other question Why was Kaliningrad placed under the Russian SFSR rather than the Lithuanian SSR? Semaphore's answer states: ... a similar offer was made to give ...
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1answer
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Did the Soviet Union know when DEFCON levels changed?

The US military uses a scale of alert readiness called DEFCON, with DEFCON 5 being the lowest alert level and DEFCON 1 being the highest, preparing for imminent nuclear war. At least once during the ...