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94 votes

How did the USSR manage to innovate in an environment characterized by government censorship and high bureaucracy?

The USSR didn't tend to go in for economic competition, but it made good use of intellectual competition and competition for prestige. It was also relatively good at creating organisations that did a ...
John Dallman's user avatar
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77 votes

Why did the Soviet Union name their strongest bomb Tsar Bomba?

The official designation for that particular device was the RDS-220. The nickname Tsar Bomba was an appellation applied by the West, rather than the designers of the bomb (who - according to the site ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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74 votes
Accepted

Did Stalin kill all Soviet officers involved in the Winter War?

Wikipedia article on the Winter War The 3 top Soviet officers (apart from Stalin): Kliment Voroshilov: died 2 December 1969. Semyon Timoshenko: died 31 March 1970. Kirill Meretskov: died 30 December ...
SJuan76's user avatar
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59 votes

Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

I can't speak to the specifics of the Soviet Union, but I want to address the opening assumption of the question. Generally, Communism believed in economic central planning, with each field being ...
Schwern's user avatar
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58 votes
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Why was the Cold War carried out over the whole world instead of between Siberia and Alaska?

Location of Conflicts This is because fundamentally, the Cold War was about which ideology would dominate the world. Both sides wanted to export their ideology, or perhaps more importantly, stop each ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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54 votes

Was the Wehrmacht a mechanized army?

You are correct. Parts of the Wehrmacht were mechanized, but the vast majority was foot infantry with horse drawn logistics. Most soldiers walked towards Moscow, and back. World War II German ...
Jos's user avatar
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54 votes

Did the Soviet army intentionally send troops (e.g. penal battalions) running over minefields?

There are a few recorded instances of Soviet penal troops being intentionally sent over mines, at least according to survivors: It is hard to judge whether there was a deliberate sacrifice of ...
against very long user names's user avatar
54 votes

Why did the Soviets not shoot down US spy satellites during the Cold War?

The precedent for allowing overflight was first set by the USSR in 1957, with Sputnik I. From then on, neither major power saw it as to their advantage to challenge it - they were both keen to get ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
52 votes
Accepted

In the Soviet Union, why was the Cheka renamed so many times?

The secret police was key to the Soviet government (so-called Chekism), so its structure changed frequently in response to state political needs. CheKa: The "Emergency Commission" was formed in 1917, ...
SPavel'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
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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 ...
default locale's user avatar
51 votes

Why did the Soviet Union out-pace the US during the space-race?

It was more of a back-and-forth. You can build a narrative of one side out-pacing the other if you cherry-pick firsts, but their capabilities were very close. The timeline of first achievements is ...
Schwern's user avatar
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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 ...
Danila Smirnov's user avatar
48 votes
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What was the liquor that was based on petrol which was produced in the USSR during the Second World War?

There is quite some strange quotation mixing up the interpretation. My version of that book reads: An ancient L.A.C. had been trying to fill his lighter from a large petrol tin. He does it by tilting ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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46 votes

Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

Company vs Design Bureau It's important to distinguish between a company and a design bureau. Organisations such as MiG (Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau), Yakolev (JSC A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau),...
Mark Micallef's user avatar
46 votes

Why did the Soviet Union name their strongest bomb Tsar Bomba?

In Russian Language the word "Tsar" has also another, non-literal meaning. Examples are: "Tsar-pushka" (king of the guns), the largest (in caliber) existing gun, and "Tsar-kolokol" (king of the bells)...
Alex's user avatar
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45 votes

Were there often intra-USSR wars? If not, why not?

Yes, there were insurgencies, wars and inter-ethnic conflicts. Not often. First of all, the Yakut revolt which was part of the Russian civil war, lasted till June 16, 1923. The USSR was established on ...
Anixx's user avatar
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43 votes
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Why did Stalin and the Soviet leadership have Leon Trotsky assassinated?

Trotsky, as the leader of the Fourth International, was a direct competitor to Stalin as the Leader of the World Worker Movement. Stalin needed all the communists to be subservient to him, especially ...
sds's user avatar
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43 votes

Why wasn’t the USSR “rebranded” communist?

The reason is that there are two different concepts that are named "communism". One is the final stage in the Marxist(-Leninist?) development model (after archaic/primitive classless ...
Jan's user avatar
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42 votes
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Did the Soviet Union or its satellite states have any broadcast propaganda media for an international audience?

Yes. Ample supply. At least for print and radio. Newspapers and magazines Not really 'broadcast medium', but mentioned in the question: Many versions printed directly under the auspices of a communist ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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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 ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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40 votes
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Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

SHORT ANSWER Jodrell Bank's first 'coup', tracking Sputnik 1 in 1957 (without Soviet assistance), put it in the news and helped secure funding. It also led to a congratulatory telegram from the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
39 votes
Accepted

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
37 votes

Which was the last major war in which horse mounted cavalry actually participated in active fighting?

During World War II, the USSR used nearly 200,000 horses in active cavalry fighting. The Russians' retention of large units of cavalry long after this ancient arm had been abandoned by other major ...
George A. Solodun's user avatar
37 votes

When planning Barbarossa, did Germany conceive of the Soviet migration of heavy industry?

I'm wondering if Hitler or others conceived of this possibility when they were planning Barbarossa? (Note: much of this is derived from Wikipedia, I don't have the referenced sources.) It seems they ...
Schwern's user avatar
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37 votes

How did the world react to Trotsky's assassination?

Short Answer Despite the 'distraction' of World War II, Trotsky's assassination was widely reported and commented on, but the 'interest' did not last except among Trotskyists. Stalin's Soviet Union ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

What determined which companies went to which post-Soviet republics after the fall of the Soviet Union as everything was centralized in Moscow?

Corporations and plants were divided between republics according to their geographical location. Under Soviet Union they were in some sense "controlled by Moscow government" but not directly....
Alex's user avatar
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35 votes

How did the USSR manage to innovate in an environment characterized by government censorship and high bureaucracy?

Genuinely like John Dallman's answer, but I'll add some to it: Outside of Party political games, one way to live a better life in the USSR was to hold a position prized by the Party. And something ...
Italian Philosophers 4 Monica's user avatar
35 votes

Why did the Soviet Union not "grant" Inner Mongolia to Mongolia after World War Two?

Actually some of the answer is found on Wikipedia, but in the pan-Mongolism article: In 1943, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office predicted that the Soviet Union would promote the idea of a ...
against very long user names's user avatar
34 votes
Accepted

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
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