101 votes
Accepted

Why does this London Underground poster from 1924 have a Star of David atop a Christmas tree?

The hexagram is not an exclusively Jewish symbol. For that matter, the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism (as opposed to a symbol used by Jews) is far newer than people realize, dating only to 1897 ...
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76 votes

Was World War I a war of liberals against authoritarians?

Seeing WWI as an ideological battle between liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes requires hindsight and taking the Western perspective and adjusting your lenses for what was considered "...
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69 votes

Why are so many metros underground? Isn't that more expensive than an elevated system?

In Moscow, under former mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, it was built a line (Butovo line) which is mostly elevated. I think the practice was not considered quite successful as a result. There are many drawbacks: ...
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66 votes
Accepted

Are there photos/footage of the Titanic sinking?

Short answer: No. The only film footage of the RMS Titanic shows her being towed into the outfitting wharf at Belfast in February 1912, and moored at Belfast. A clip of Lusitania leaving port has ...
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58 votes

Why are so many metros underground? Isn't that more expensive than an elevated system?

This is mostly about urban planning, and how much change the local government can or will be able to make to the existing streets. In London, the central parts of the city (Westminster and the City) ...
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  • 3,294
57 votes
Accepted

Why did Hitler not invade Sweden?

Sweden was a vital source of iron ores to Germany, an important strategic resource for her war effort. Because the allies controlled the seas, Scandinavia was Germany's main source of good quality ...
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53 votes

Why was the Scout movement so successful?

Baden-Powell had been besieged in the town of Mafeking during the Second Boer War. He had formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps, which was a group of youths that supported the defending troops by carrying ...
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52 votes
Accepted

When did FDR announce he was running a 3rd time, and was there any outrage?

SHORT ANSWER TO THE MAIN QUESTIONS We can't be sure when FDR decided to stand for a third term but the evidence suggests it was not long before the Democratic National Convention (15th to 18th July ...
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51 votes
Accepted

Why could China keep most of the lands it conquered after 17th century but European powers could not?

The Chinese situation was fundamentally different from the Western European colonial empires. In fact it's rather more like Russia, who also managed to keep her Eurasian empire, or the United States, ...
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51 votes
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During the breakup of the Soviet Union, on what basis was citizenship granted or withheld for each of the fifteen new republics?

This question gets really complicated really fast. After the breakup, each of the former Soviet republics established its own set of laws, and then these laws were rewritten multiple times. The region ...
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47 votes
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Did a significant number of women drive in late 1950s/1960s USA?

Looking at driver's licenses held by women and considering that manufacturers were aiming certain car models specifically at women, female drivers were not uncommon or unusual in the US in the 1950s ...
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46 votes

Uniform identification: c20th male, General, mid/light green double breasted, red facing, red neck tags, blue/green shoulder boards

It appears to be a painting of Pavlo Shandruk (Ukrainian: Павло Шандрук, Polish: Pawło Szandruk). As Pieter noted it is a mid 20th century fascist German uniform in style. As Luiz noted the cockade ...
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45 votes

How was the Luftwaffe able to destroy nearly 4000 Soviet aircraft in 3 days of operation Barbarossa?

The Soviets were caught by surprise and suffered massive casualties as a result. See this Wikipedia article. Lots of aircraft were destroyed on the ground, not the air. The first attacks began at ...
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41 votes
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Did people in China resort to cannibalism during the reign of Mao?

Yes we have at least one account of cannibalism. First source: A teenage orphan kills and eats her four-year-old brother. Guardian Second source: I didn't know that there were thousands of cases of ...
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40 votes
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Why was the Israeli army strong enough to win the 1948 war?

Overview This has been much discussed over the decades since the war and there are various views on this. Even if historical bias could be left aside, we are still left with the problem of measuring ...
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38 votes
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Why did China annex Tibet?

The other two answers speak in terms of Tibet's legal status; and these answers, while correct, don't properly explain why Tibet is important to China. This answer relates entirely to geography. The ...
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  • 7,212
38 votes
Accepted

Was a passport needed to travel between UK and France in 1972?

Piecing together various sources, it is clear that there was a no-passport agreement between the United Kingdom and France from 1961 until 1984 and that, even after the termination of this agreement, ...
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37 votes
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Where did Japan get their oil during WWII?

Japan had a small domestic oil production, a few million barrels, but not nearly enough to meet their peacetime needs let alone war. What they did have is enough oil refineries with a capacity of ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Why is the capital of Turkey Ankara rather than Istanbul?

During the early stages of the Turkish War of Independence, Kemal commanded two army corps: One in Ankara and one in Erzurum. At first Erzurum was Kemal's base of operations, but on 27 December, 1919 ...
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35 votes

Were there military operations that targeted individual enemy commanders?

Operation Flipper, in November 1941 was a British special forces operation aimed at killing or capturing Erwin Rommel. The intention was to disrupt the German Command and Control infrastructure ...
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34 votes

Did people in China resort to cannibalism during the reign of Mao?

Jung Chang -author of bestseller Wild Swans (Harper Collins, London 1992) together with her husband, British sinologist, Jon Halliday, in their biography, Mao,The Unknown Story (Cape, London 2005) ...
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33 votes
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In this cartoon from Puck, what indicates the identities of France and Britain?

Short Answer The identities of France and Britain are indicated by their heads of state, namely President Armand Fallières and King Edward VII respectively. There is also (as Roddy of the Frozen Peas ...
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33 votes
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How much did J. Robert Oppenheimer get paid while overseeing the Manhattan Project?

On page 14 of FAS.org it indicates his salary was initially set at $10,000. Since that exceeded his previous UC professor’s salary he asked that it be reduced in line with others. Apparently the ...
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  • 2,131
31 votes

Why are so many metros underground? Isn't that more expensive than an elevated system?

For New York, the answer is related to real estate value. In New York City, the construction of the metro was performed by real estate developers. The idea was to build homes, then connect them to ...
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  • 7,212
31 votes

About how many immigrants were on the Titanic?

tl; dr Virtually all the Third Class (steerage) passengers were intending to emigrate. The majority were headed to the United States, while the rest intended to journey onward to Canada. For ...
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29 votes
Accepted

How was titanium transported from Soviet Union to Area 51 for Oxcart?

The Soviets did not know they were supplying the CIA, because Americans are adept at corporate shenanigans. From the book Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of my Years at Lockheed: Our supplier, ...
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  • 17.9k
28 votes

What is the current U.S. monetary standard?

The United States abandoned the gold standard on 15 August 1971. Since then it has been using fiat money, which is not backed by any commodity. It derives its value solely from government authority. ...
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  • 95.9k
26 votes

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

Yes I can tell you from personal experience also I was six years old we lived in Haverton Hill, County Durham, England, there was a lot of heavy industry in that area including Dorman & long steel ...
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26 votes

How many people in the US starved to death during the Great Depression?

Health researchers collected data on causes of death in 114 U.S. cities during the Great Depression. Their findings confirm the impressions of many observers in the 1930s, mortality did not increase ...
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  • 17.9k
26 votes

During the U.S. Prohibition, how did they get away with drinking alcohol?

They probably got away with it because it was not illegal to drink alcohol. In fact, the Prohibition outlawed only the "manufacture, sale, or transportation" of alcoholic drinks. No mention of ...
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