The Man Who Saved the World From Nuclear Destruction

The 26th of September of 1983 could have been the last day for humanity. Stanislav Petrov was an officer on duty during that day; his job was to oversee the new system Oko, a nuclear early-warning system, which wasn’t the most exciting thing to do. This day changed his life completely, and at the same time…

Source: The Man Who Saved the World From Nuclear Destruction

Children of Stalin | toritto

Joe Stalin died on March 5, 1953.  I was almost twelve years old at the time. While such things rarely mattered to kids in middle school, then called junior high, Stalin’s death was the talk …

Source: Children of Stalin | toritto

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

On this day: a nuclear disaster in the USSR | In Times Gone By…

This is the first picture taken of the destroyed nuclear reactor in Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian), Ukraine. 27th April, 1986. Taken from a helicopter flying over to assess the damage, the imag…

Source: On this day: a nuclear disaster in the USSR | In Times Gone By…

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

On this day: Svetlana Alliluyeva defects | In Times Gone By…

On the 6th of March, 1967, Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, approached the US embassy in New Delhi and asked for political asylum. She is seen below arriving in the U…

Source: On this day: Svetlana Alliluyeva defects | In Times Gone By…

How a Gift from Schoolchildren Let the Soviets Spy on the U.S. for 7 Years | Atlas Obscura

In 1946, a group of Russian children from the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organisation (sort of a Soviet scouting group) presented a carved wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States to Averell Harriman, the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

The gift, a gesture of friendship to the USSR’s World War II ally, was hung in the…

Source: How a Gift from Schoolchildren Let the Soviets Spy on the U.S. for 7 Years | Atlas Obscura

Lenin’s Wife | toritto

Everyone knows of Lenin.  His body is still on display in the great Kremlin square, once known as Red Square, for those with a bit of ghoulishness in their souls to see.  His name and statues have been taken down everywhere in Russia and just about everywhere else as well.  He has been written out of history kind of like Pharaoh Akhenaten’s name was chiseled off of Egyptian walls.

Yet his body is still there on display.Yes, every one, save perhaps our current crop of high school kids drudging their way through what is euphemistically known as the public educational system, knows something of Lenin.

Few however, outside of left wingers, communists and historians know of Lenin’s wife – or even that he had a wife.

Nadezhda “Nadya” Krupskaya was Lenin’s wife – and Nadya was a revolutionary to the

Source: Lenin’s Wife | toritto

December 1930: the Moscow execution of Ukrainian musicians | In Times Gone By…

In December 1930, 337 Ukrainian musicians were executed in Russia in an attempt to eliminate Ukrainian culture. Some historians place the date of the execution as 1933, but as with most things that happened in the Soviet Union, records are…

Source: December 1930: the Moscow execution of Ukrainian musicians | In Times Gone By…

Stalin’s Cult of Personality: Its Origins and Progression

The York Historian

Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ given at the Twentieth Party Congress in February 1956 denounced Josef Stalin for “[perverting] Party principles” by creating a “cult of the person of Stalin”. Though the term ‘cult of personality’ was coined in the 19th century, it was popularised in its use as a referral to Josef Stalin’s regime. For me, ‘cult of personality’ means the veneration of one omnipotent, infallible leader – a belief ingrained in society, visually and culturally. Autocratic totalitarianism, enshrined in propaganda. This article will take us through an analysis of how Stalin established and maintained a cult of personality, touching on how successful it was.

Establishing a ‘Cult of Personality’ – the legacy of autocracy

Looking backwards from the rule of Stalin, to Lenin and the Tsarist regime, it is clear that modern Russia had a history of autocratic rule, making it easier for Stalin to establish himself as…

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World War II in Four Paragraphs | Theory Of Irony

250px-Fotothek_df_ps_0000010_Blick_vom_RathausturmWorld War II started out, if you believed the Fascist propaganda (and nobody did),  as a limited Polish border dispute.  But soon Germany and its vassal States overran most of Europe and Northern Africa, plus a big chunk of Asia – as they liked to brag, from the Sahara Desert to the Arctic Circle.  A very lonely Britain sent up a few hundred pilots who faced odds approaching absolute zero, but against all expectation they started to win the battle for the skies.  During this airborne mayhem one particularly bad German pilot accidentally bombed residential London and Britain retaliated by unloading on municipal Berlin.  In knee-jerk response, an enraged Hitler switched to civilian targets – just when the British military was reaching the verge of exhaustion.  While this went on, Germany made the most catastrophic blunder in recorded history and attacked its nominal eastern ally, the Soviet Union.

The tide turned in ways that could never have been predicted.  The Germans got so far as to occupy nine-tenths of Stalingrad, really a second-tier military goal, but one of immense psychological importance to the The Soviet Union rebounded with the same tenacity it showed at Stalingrad, grimly took back Eastern Europe and started pounding on the gates of Berlin.  A brief digression is needed here to explain that, 200 years before, a Russian Czarina…

Source: World War II in Four Paragraphs | Theory Of Irony

On this day: the Night of the Murdered Poets in Russia

In Times Gone By...

Flag of the Russian SFSR (1937-1954)

The flag of Russia in 1952

On the 12th of August, 1952, thirteen Jews from across the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania were executed in Moscow on orders from the Russian government. All were falsely accused of espionage and treason, and their executions came after three years of imprisonment and torture.

Five of the murdered were Yiddish poets, hence the name of the infamous day.

Lina Stern Latvian Jew Persecuted by Russia and Stalin in the 1950s Women's History USSR Moscow

Lina Stern

A fourteenth person died in prison five months later, and a fifteenth, a Latvian scientist by the name of Lina Stern, was the only survivor. She spent time in a labour camp until Stalin’s death, but was officially declared “less guilty” so that the USSR could continue to make use of her medical research.

Neither the trials nor the executions were ever mentioned in the Russian media, however the families of the accused were exiled by Stalin. They did not learn the…

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Kronstadt and the End of the Revolution


It was the first weeks of March, 1921 in the new Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics.

Kronstadt was and still is a naval fortress on an island in the Gulf of Finland. It served as headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Fleet during Tsarist times and was built to protect the aproach from the sea to St. Petersburg, some 30 miles away.  In 1921, St. Petersburg was called Petrograd, later to be changed to Leningrad and then back to St. Petersburg.

The Kronstadt sailors had been in the vanguard of the revolutionary events of 1905 and 1917. In 1917, the sailors again joined revolutionary forces and fired upon the Winter Palace from battleships at sea. Trotsky called them the “pride and glory of the Russian Revolution.” The inhabitants of Kronstadt had been early supporters and practitioners of soviet power, forming a free commune in 1917 which was relatively independent of the…

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Remembering One Girl From Minsk – October 26, 1941


An Annual Re-Post

The Minsk Ghetto – 1941

“For God’s sake child! Flee Minsk before it’s too late!” the wounded Red Army Major she tended urged her.

“Be still!” Anya said. “I’m taking your picture.” Minsk was her city. She was born here, a Jewish girl whose real name was Mariya (Mascha) Borisovna Bruskina; she went to high school here and dreamed of being an actress, before the Germans came. “I cannot leave. We will stay and fight and wait for the army to return. We must all do what we can.”

On June 22, 1941 the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union, and in six days they were in Minsk. The girl now called Anya lost her dream at 17 years old.

Within days of the arrival of the Germans the knock had come at the door. “Raus Jews! You are moving!” She and her parents along with 100,000 Minsk Jews were marched to a ghetto and walled inside.

Her mother spoke quietly with her those…

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