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125 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 ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
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 ...
Dmitry Grigoryev's user avatar
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 ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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51 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: ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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 ...
default locale's user avatar
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, ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
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 ...
Danila Smirnov's user avatar
46 votes

In 1914 why didn't Germany simply mobilize its army without declaring war?

Mobilization is hugely expensive Industry slows down for the lack of workers, agriculture stops for the lack of horses. It is not something a nation can afford to do lightly. Speed of mobilization is ...
sds's user avatar
  • 27k
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 ...
d.k's user avatar
  • 1,178
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 ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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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 ...
Danila Smirnov's user avatar
35 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 ...
Schwern's user avatar
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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 ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
35 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, ...
gktscrk's user avatar
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34 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 ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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 ...
Eric Nolan's user avatar
32 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 ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
32 votes

Was there a Cold War era Russian safe haven city for politicians and scientists?

Most likely it's a myth. First, nothing is "outside of ICBM range". The so-called "closed cities" were primarily nuclear production or research sites.1 They were presumably on the ...
Zeus's user avatar
  • 871
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 ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 40.3k
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 ...
Otto Abnormalverbraucher's user avatar
29 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 ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 9,216
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 ...
gktscrk's user avatar
  • 10.8k
27 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 ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 55.4k
26 votes
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What are these hats and the function of those wearing them (worn by the Russian imperial army at Borodino)?

Those seem like the mitre caps which would be part of grenadier uniform in many armies of the time, including imperial Russia. I don't have a good source there but here's an example of a very similar ...
Peteris's user avatar
  • 1,323
25 votes

How and why did e.g. Chechnya differ in status from entities like Armenia?

"How" and "why" are two very different questions. Whereas the former can be answered formally, it is difficult to say "why" this happened other than "by historical ...
Zeus's user avatar
  • 871
23 votes

How does Louise Bryant's assessment of how the Soviet Union would fall hold up at the beginning of the 21st century?

"The most significant fact is that it will not fall from inside pressure. Only outside, foreign, hostile intervention can destroy it." In fact, some historians have argued the exact opposite: the ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
22 votes
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Why did the Schlieffen Plan prioritize invading France?

Plan, what plan, exactly? The "Schlieffen Plan" did not "prioritize" invading France. That plan was a relatively short memorandum and solely about invading France, with the ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.6k
22 votes
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What's the background to the popularity of turquoise in Russian architecture?

It's entirely modern. In 1840, the Winter Palace wasn't teal. This page has a lovely timeline of how its color changed in the moist Baltic climate from beige to ochre, before being painted...bright ...
SPavel's user avatar
  • 11.4k

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