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123 votes
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Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

I have not lived in Berlin or Moscow, but I have lived in Toronto and (very close to) Val d'Or. The winter temperatures for these two locations closely match Berlin and Moscow: December ...
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97 votes
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Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

I can think of a list of things which either excelled at the time or were feats not matched in the whole war. The T-34 and IS tank lines. Not just the tanks themselves, but also focusing on two ...
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69 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Average temperatures are irrelevant, unless you plan to repeat the battle every year. What matters is the temperature at the time. To quote Wikipedia: The European Winter of 1941-1942 was the ...
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56 votes
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Why did Peter the Great name Saint Petersburg, Russia with a foreign styled name?

The whole point of the reign of Peter the Great was to "modernize" (westernize) Russia. Per the wikipedia article, "Peter implemented sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing Russia.[10] Heavily ...
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52 votes
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Why did the Germans forbid the possession of pet pigeons in Rostov-on-Don in 1941?

The Germans were concerned that carrier pigeons would be used to communicate with Soviet forces. Carrier pigeons were used extensively during both World Wars. From the Rostov-on-Don tourism website: ...
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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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50 votes
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Why did no other empire contest Russia's colonization of North-Asia?

Siberia was colonized earlier than the 18/19th centuries. There actually were a few challenges by great powers to Russia's colonial empire as it expanded and later: from China to some extent early on, ...
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49 votes
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What are the text and subtext of this 1949 Soviet cartoon?

Although the whole anti-"rootless cosmopolitan" campaign is now widely accepted as being antisemitic in nature, at the time it was framed as being directed against people who "lack patriotism and ...
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43 votes
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Why did Stalin keep the famine of 1932 a secret?

1932 There are two chief interpretations of the 1932 Soviet famine, or especially the more infamous Ukrainian component, the Holodomor. That the famine was at least partially caused or exacerbated by ...
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42 votes

Why is the late Russian Empire associated with Byzantium while having little in common with it?

I'd say that historically, the ideology in Russia meant it preferred to compare itself to Byzantium, probably similarly to the way you can hear the US is compared to Rome. This was, and still ...
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41 votes
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Did the Germans purposefully arrange to send Lenin to Russia to start a revolution?

A Russian revolution caused by the Bolsheviks was most definitely the goal of the Germans when they allowed Lenin to pass through their lands. Germany wished to undermine, or end, the Russian war ...
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40 votes
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What is this household object from early 1900s rural Russia?

It's a Cветец (Svetetz), a device for holding a primitive torch called a Лучина (Luchina - splinter) or Rushlight, really just a splinter of wood or a piece of plant fiber dipped in grease. The ...
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40 votes
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Why was Kaliningrad placed under the Russian SFSR rather than the Lithuanian SSR?

Lithuania fell under Soviet occupation in 1940, but the Soviets were promptly evicted by Operation Barbarossa. So in practice, the Lithuanian SSR was established only in late 1944, after the Baltic ...
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38 votes
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What did Yuri Gagarin do while waiting for his ride?

In 1991 Central Committee of the CPSU Archive released several documents related to Gagarin's flight. Amongst them was Gagarin's own after-action report to the government commission. Sadly, Russian ...
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38 votes
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How did the Bolsheviks fund their government?

This is based on an Estonian radio show, 'Müstiline Venemaa' ('Mystical Russia') by historian David Vseviov, chapters 'The Financing of Bolshevik Activities', which described the pre-1917 financing, ...
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36 votes
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Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03: Why is there a Russian flag on the cover of the prominent newspaper 'Le Petit Parisien'?

I think this is a color error (in reproduction, printing, fading, etc.) It is a 19th Century Venezuelan flag with the cluster of stars visible on the blue bar.
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35 votes
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Who was the first Russian in space (not Soviet)?

It is depending on your definition of a Russian. Gagarin was born in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, so he was the first Russian in space. Sergei Krikaljow (also a Russian) started ...
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35 votes
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Did Yuri Gagarin really hear a ticking sound during his journey into outer space?

I've seen this story a number of times since Another Earth was released in 2011, usually something along lines like this article. The problem is that I've never seen anything about it in any of the ...
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35 votes
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Did Catherine the Great really call for the abolition of serfdom?

This answer is based on the assumption that the OP is referring to the HBO miniseries Catherine the Great and, more specifically, the following segment of the script: [Catherine:] But in these more ...
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34 votes
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What made the Russian Navy suspect Japanese torpedo boats were in North Sea in 1904?

What intelligence did the Russians have that the Japanese had either torpedo boats or mines in the North Sea, and what was the source of that intelligence? I don't have the book referenced in the ...
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  • 52.6k
34 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Other answers have dealt with the main things but I think you are missing one important point. Even assuming that Berlin and Moscow are equally cold there is a huge difference between holding your ...
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31 votes
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Were there ethnic Russians in Alaska when the US purchased it 1867? Did they stay?

The Wikipedia article on the Alaska Purchase discusses the population of Alaska before the purchase: Seward told the nation that the Russians estimated that Alaska contained about 2,500 Russians ...
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31 votes

Did the Germans use the V1 and V2 missile system on the Eastern Front in World War 2?

The V1 and V2 were short range missiles. The V-2 had an operational range of 200 miles while the V-1 had an operational range of 160 miles. These missiles weren't available until mid-1944, at which ...
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30 votes
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Why was the standoff on the Ugra river the end of the Tatar-Mongol yoke in Russia?

It's precisely because Akhmat Khan retreated. The Mongolian yoke over Russia was underpinned by their ability to compel obedience (i.e. tribute) through the force of arms. Akhmat Khan's retreat ...
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30 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Part of the Third Reich's military problem was its devastating quick early victories. Germany invaded France rapidly alongside a ~900 km front line, adopting the WWI strategy to enter via Belgium ...
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28 votes
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Why did Peter the Great change his daughters' title to Tsesarevna?

When Peter 'upgraded' the Russian title of 'tsar' (царь) to 'emperor' (император), this meant that the corresponding titles would have to be given a similar jump upwards. The specific issue arose ...
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28 votes
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Why was the northern boundary of the Mongol empire set where it was?

There always is a trade-off when occupying someone else's territory: the resources you can extract plus any strategic value versus the resources you need to invest to maintain control. The wooded ...
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27 votes
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When was slavery abolished in Russia?

The usual answer is that Russia abolished slavery in 1723. Technically speaking, there were no more slaves in Russia after this point. In reality, it meant they were merged into the class of serfs, ...
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26 votes
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What were the reasons for Japan's surrender in WWII?

This question has been debated for a very long time, and I've never seen a conclusive answer one way or the other. I don't believe there is a single reason Japan surrendered. Rather there was a long ...
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  • 52.6k
25 votes

Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

Caveat Wars (especially in 20th century!) are won by nations/armies, not weapons. A weapon can be excellent (e.g., Me-262) but it will make no difference because it was introduced too late and/or was ...
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