For almost 70 years the Soviet Union dominated a sizeable portion of the world by force. However, because of the nature of the Cold War and the careful restriction of information, many people know very little about what life was like on the other side of the iron curtain. This is a shame because the history of the USSR is a fascinating one. For there were countless events discoveries and the like that many are still unaware of today. These are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Soviet Union.
10: Dogma, Soviet Union
As political correctness spiraled out of control these days. The dogma is usually frowned upon especially when forced into video games, comics, and the like. Surprisingly it was Russia who first coined the term. Initially, the Communist Party used it to describe appropriate political opinions. Mid-20th century American socialists used it as a degrading term to shun those who blindly followed communist political opinions while ignoring any logic or argument that opposed theirs. Obviously, the meaning of the term politically correct has dramatically changed over the past few decades. Now meaning any type of speech that could be perceived as insensitive. However, it’s important to know that this term has its roots in both Stalin and the Soviet Union.
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Gulags were the labor camps that were dirty, cramped, void of food, and over-populated. Death was a slow but painful process in these. Russian football and ice hockey legend Nikolai Starostin was sent to the gulags for bribery and for stealing sports equipment. His time at the camp was not as horrific as it should have been. Gods really liked him and would chat to him about coaching teams, sports-related anecdotes, and more. He spent most of his time in the gulags coaching teams. When he was released he didn’t stop. Later in his life, he wrote in his autobiography “it is really sad to have lost these years in the gulags. But those years were not wasted in vain. A lot of things in life helped me to learn, gave me the opportunity to know my own country. A fan is a fan everywhere.
8: Joseph Stalin of Soviet Union
Joseph Stalin ruled over the Soviet Union with an iron fist and have millions of his own followers killed. While he was certainly a frightening powerful figure he was anything but as a child. Stalin was bullied a lot because of his stunted growth. He grew up to be only 5’ 4” in height. Smallpox permanently scarred his face while blood poisoning resulted in his left arm being notably shorter than the right. Nonetheless, Stalin was quite the bookworm at school. He also spent a lot of time hiking through the great outdoors. Yet despite his intelligence, he dropped out of college. His story was because he wanted to pursue a revolution. However, his mother said it was because of poor health. Which sounds a lot less courageous?
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7: Strict Censorship
Countries under totalitarian dictatorships all subject to strict censorship. Any piece of media would be suppressed or simply removed from the public’s access if it expressed any harmful anti-regime ideologies. Stalin did the same with his photographs. If an ally was branded a traitor or had a political fallout with Stalin, he was to be removed from any and all photos and films. Censors were used for some clever tricks to purge a person out of a shot. Editors did the same to Stalin’s face. Scars on the dictator’s face were removed. After all, these would have been perceived as a sign of weakness. The last thing the regime wanted was for the masses to believe their leader was anything but powerful.
6: Grigori Rasputin of Soviet Union
Self-proclaimed cleric, political puppet master, and bonafide womanizer. While his charisma and supposed powers made him a charismatic figure. S-x, alcohol, and bribes were just some of his notorious vices. Rasputin’s enemies knew of his voracious appetite. So, he was invited to a party as a guest of honor. He was fed poisoned cakes which didn’t affect him. Eventually, he was beaten, stabbed, and finally shot. Yet this wasn’t enough to stop the mad monk. The assassins’ accounts say that Rasputin got up and fought back. Despite being smacked in the face and shot in the back multiple times. It was said that they have to finish him off by drowning him. Though historical sources say he died before his corpse was dumped in the icy cold river. This was truly like something out of a horror movie.
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5: Ugly and Dirty Pictures
If you were caught in ugly and dirty pictures in the Soviet Union, you would have received more than just a wag of the finger. Article 228 of the criminal code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic outlawed everyone from creating and selling p0rnography. This did not stop smugglers slipping in filthy pictures and videos into the country though. It was until 1988 for the first uncensored movie depicting s-x was shown in Russia. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the most viewed films at the time.
4: Women Fighters of the Soviet Union
Full communists’ women were restricted from participating in World War 2? About a million Soviet Union women donned many roles on the front lines. From anti-aircraft gunners to snipers. Many of them put their names towards some of the deadliest missions available. Such as the night witches who flew behind enemy lines and bombed the Germans to smithereens. These women developed quite a name for themselves. For instance, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a sniper who caught in over 300 kills. Russia commemorated women like her by printing her face on stamps.
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3: Using Dogs in Wars
When the Soviet Union made an agreement in 1924 to allow dogs to aid the military. They were used to send supplies explosives and aid to those in need. The Reds decided to take it a step further and turned them into deadly weapons. In the 1930s canines were packed with explosives and were sent forth towards the enemy tanks. Remote explosives were expensive and timed bombs were risky. So, they were trained to detonate the bombs themselves. Since the dogs were trained to chase down Soviet Union tanks, they ignore the enemy during tests. Often the senses would be bombarded with so much action and noise some simply run away only to be put out to that misery. Another unfortunate side effect on the dogs training with Soviet Union tanks was that many bomb carriers simply rushed back at their allies. Only to be shot down out of panic.
2: The Cuban Missile Crisis in Soviet Union
There were numerous instances when the Cold War almost developed into a full-blown World War. One lesser-known instance took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October 1962. Off the coast of Cuba, Soviet Union submarine B-59 was hit by American depth charges as an attempt to force it to rise to the surface. The US was not aware they were shaking up a sub-armed with nuclear payloads for identification. The Reds were too deep underwater to realize what was happening. Captain Valentin Savitsky thought a Third World War broke out and wanted to launch a nuclear payload in retaliation. If it wasn’t for Soviet Union Navy Officer Vasili Arkhipov arguing against his comrades’ nuclear war would have occurred. Thankfully the crew decided that due to the low power and falling air conditioning it was time to surface and head on back home.
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1: Stanislav Petrov
In September 1983 the world was once again threatened by all-out nuclear war. If it wasn’t for the cool-headed lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet Union military intelligence division of the secret service Russia and the US would’ve glowed with radiation. After an officer overseeing a nuclear strike operations bunker became sick Petrov took his place. To his horror, the computer started to blare out sirens and warnings. American nukes were incoming, it was time to alert the higher-ups. But why would there only a handful of nukes have detected?
Both sides have the potential to make the sky rain bombs. So why wasn’t this the case? It turns out the satellite was mistaken in clouds for bombs. The Soviet Union was more paranoid and embarrassed than ever, but Petrov saved the day using common sense. His reward reassignment to a new post. Thankfully he was praised in documentaries and awarded money after the millennium. Though he remains humble about his actions to this day. After all, he technically didn’t do anything.