The Soviet Union was the biggest aggressor of the 20th century. All of Europe had to live under a veil of oppression, dictatorship, and violence. The Communist Party of The Soviet Union ruled over a massive stretch of land for nearly 70 years of its existence, and the leaders, such as Vladimir Lenin or Joseph Stalin, were viewed as “friends” by the entire Union. Sometimes it looks like the Soviet Union was a huge cult of brainwashed people. Oh yes, censorship was the biggest weapon in the USSR. Of course, people were free to have their opinion, but only as long as it matched the official views of the Communist Party. Otherwise, expressing your ideas could only get you to a concentration camp… or a coffin. It is hard to believe, but Joseph Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler. The Soviet Union was the most feared power of the 20th century, and there are a lot of facts to prove it.
To this day, people remember the Cold War and how the Soviet Union tried to gain control over the entire world. They were even prepared to sacrifice their own citizens to reach the goal. Naturally, patriotism could not last that much longer, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. That was one of the greatest victories in history as millions of people regained their independence. However, the Soviet Union left so much baggage behind them that it still haunts the world. There is not enough paper to write about all the crimes the USSR committed, but below you can find some of the most iconic and disturbing facts about the most brutal regime of the 20th century.
16. 80 Percent Of Males Born In 1923 Died Before The Age Of 22
People are always b*tching around that they are born in the wrong place at the wrong time. It sounds plain stupid. However, there is one exception – males who were born in the Soviet Union in 1923. Almost 80 percent of those poor guys did not make it to the end of World War II. Oh yes, the majority of the generation died before their 22nd birthday. That is sick and unfair. However, we cannot only blame World War II and the Nazis for this tragedy. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was cruel to its people as well. At least half of the male population of 1923 died even before the war broke out. The level of medical care was so terrible that doctors could not control infant mortality rates. If we add the starvation and diseases to the equation, we get what we have – 80 percent of the male population had to die. Do you still think that we are born at the wrong time?
15. Deadly Deportations Of Innocent People
Propaganda and censorship were the greatest tools of the Soviet Union. This country depended on people who believed that the Soviet Union is right, just, and defends the world from the rotten values of the Western world. It is not a surprise that the intelligent people didn’t listen to all this propaganda BS. The Soviet Union decided that the best way to deal with those disobedient citizens was to send them somewhere distant and cold, for example, to the endless lands of Siberia. In 1933, the Soviet Union dumped 6,200 people on an island in Siberia and left them starving with no shelter. After a month, when officials came back to chek on those unfortunate prisoners, 4,000 of them were already dead.
Those massive deportations of innocent people kept on going for years. Countries such as Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic had lost thousands of the most intelligent people during the deportations. The Soviet Union government claimed that those poor people were enemies of the Union, who had to pay for their (imaginary) crimes. As a Lithuanian, I have met a lot of seniors who were sent to Siberia for no particular reason. That is one of many cruel sides of the Soviet Union.
14. Soviet Soldiers Had To Fight The War Without Guns
No other country gave less of a crap about their military than the Soviet Union. The Soviets believed that the war is not that much about the quality but more about the quantity, so they used to send masses of untrained and unprepared troops into the battlefield. No one could say that this tactic of sacrificing millions did not work, but we are talking about people’s lives here. There are quite a few cases when during a battle, one soldier got a gun and another got some ammo. The officials just said “There are a lot of guns in your enemies’ hands, so just go and get them,” which I would rephrase to: “I am sorry, but you are probably going to die, soldier. However, keep loving the Soviet Union.”
13. Kyshtym Nuclear Disaster
I am certain that everyone knows about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and how much it hurt the Soviet Union. However, only a few have heard about the Kyshtym nuclear disaster, which happened in 1957, 30 years before the Chernobyl. The tragedy in Kyshtym was the biggest nuclear disaster at the time. 270,000 people suffered from the radiation, and 11,000 lost their homes. What caused such a massive tragedy? Instead of fixing the cooler when it started leaking, the workers just turned it off. Naturally, the nuclear waste in the storage tanks heated up and exploded, causing many deaths, mutations, and diseases around the area. Yup, Homer Simpson would do a better job than those sloppy workers.
Of course, the Soviet Union government was not happy to see such a disaster, so it decided to keep it low profile. Only after 32 years, in 1989, the government published the first documents about the Kyshtym nuclear disaster. That’s the way to go… Really, what was the point for the government to take responsibility if they could just deny the failure?
12. NKVD & Lavrentiy Beria
People say that there is a man behind every successful person. Lavrentiy Beria was the man behind Joseph Stalin (yes, he was cruel and evil, but successful). Beria was the leader of the Soviet secret police agency NKVD. When Stalin wanted someone dead, he only needed to tell Beria, and the rest was only formalities. Lavrentiy Beria was a very cruel man, who developed all the brutal torture techniques, which KGB used until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Beria was the only one who survived being close to Stalin for so long, and that only shows us that he was as evil as Stalin. You can be sure that Beria was behind most of the crimes committed by the Soviet Union until 1953.
After the death of Stalin, Beria decided that he is ready to become the dictator. However, the poor guy overestimated his power and appointed himself first deputy prime minister. His “friends” did not like this move, charged Beria with treason and killed him in the KGB headquarters, using his torturing techniques. As Beria used to say “You bring me the man; I will find you the crime.” Little did he know that those words will turn 180 degrees and kill him.
11. Katyn Massacre
Joseph Stalin was a very vicious and pragmatic person. He did not see any problems in sacrificing thousands of people just to get his point proven. For instance, in 1940, after the Soviet Union invaded Poland, Stalin ordered his officials to start executing important Polish people. In total, NKVD killed about 22,000 Poles, including high-rank officials, the most intelligent Polish people, and random civilians. Historians call it Katyn Massacre, and it is clear that the Soviet Union is responsible for this crime. However, at the time, Joseph Stalin and the whole USSR denied any connection with the Katyn Massacre. They stated that the Nazis are responsible for this genocide. Only in 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian government acknowledged and condemned the Karyn Massacre.
10. The Soviet Famine Of 1932-33
People remember Holocaust as one of the worst crimes against humanity, but the Soviet Famine of 1932-33 might be equally evil. This famine alone killed six to eight million people and left millions more starving. What happened? The government created this unrealistic fiver-year plan, forced collectivization of the farms, and neglected all the signs that things are not working out. The people from the countryside felt repressed, but they were too afraid to act against the government. So, things that could work in theory turned out to be deadly in practice. To be honest, mostly everything about Communism was like that.
The areas of Ukraine, Northern Caucasus, Volga Region, Kazakhstan, the South Urals, and West Siberia suffered the most from this tragedy. Actually, many people still believe that the Soviet Famine was a planned genocide against the Ukrainian people. The USSR wanted all the people to stop asking questions and obey. And according to the Soviet Union, people who were afraid of dying followed the orders the best.
9. The Soviet Union Used The KKK As Propaganda
Even though the Cold War was not violent; it was still nasty. Two dominant countries of the 20th century, the Soviet Union, and the US did it all to gain more power in the world. Most of the time, those countries crossed the lines. For example, in 1984, the Soviet Union wanted to sabotage the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games after the US did the same with The Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. However, the Soviet Union used some ugly methods. They wrote dozens of threatening letters to the Olympic athletes from all the different countries. Instead of signing with their names, the Soviet Union signed as KKK. Those forged letters were meant to intimidate athletes and destroy the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Let’s face it; this “fake letters” plan could have damaged the image of the US. However, the execution was terrible. No one reacted to the letters and the US government soon discovered that KGB was behind all the of this nonsense. So yeah, this only damaged the image of the Soviet Union and the 1984 Olympic Games took place as expected.
8. “One Death Is A Tragedy; One Million Is A Statistic”
It is safe to say that Joseph Stalin will forever be amongst the worst leaders in history. His crimes are uncountable, and his point of view towards people was outrageous. His words about death talk for itself: “One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” Oh yes, not only he said it, but he also lived by it. Joseph Stalin ordered a number of genocides against the USSR people. He also sent millions of soldiers straight to death just to protect his throne. On top of that, Stalin killed dozens of his most loyal highest rank officials.
People in the Soviet Union knew that if Joseph Stalin called you a “friend,” you would find yourself in a concentration camp the next day, but only if you were lucky. Most of the time, Joseph Stalin just killed his “friends.” He did not care about the Soviet Union, people, economy, or anything else, but himself. Historians estimate that this man is responsible for the death of 20 million people. Good thing it is only a statistic, right?
7. Useless 40,230 Feet Deep Borehole
All people had to work in the Soviet Union. It did not even matter what kind of stuff they did as long as they were working. That kept the unemployment number in the Soviet Union low, and people were always doing something, so they had no time to strike. I know, it is plain stupid, but hey, we are talking about the Soviet Union here.
One of the most useless things that the Soviet Union had ever done was digging a 40,230 ft deep borehole. It took 13 years, from 1979 to 1992, to finish this “masterpiece.” The Kola Superdeep Borehole never even had a purpose. From the first day, the Soviet Union government stated that workers are digging the borehole just to see how deep they can get. So, the government wasted millions and proved the fact that they can dig as deep as 40,230 ft. Seeing this kind of management of the country, it makes sense that it collapsed.
6. The Crappy Quality Of The Soviet Union Passports
It is clear to say that during the Cold War, the US government wasn’t holding back as well. They sent many spies to the Soviet Union to obtain some valuable information. However, the Soviet Union had a very odd way to catch those spies. You see, it was super hard to forge the passport of the Soviet Union because the government used metal of super poor quality to make those passports. So, when the US spies arrived at the USSR, officials could easily identify them from the staples of the passport. If it was a real passport of the Soviet Union, all the staples were rusty in a couple of years, so KGB just needed to wait for a few years and arrest the people with good looking passports. It looks like it was one of those times when doing things crappy and carelessly worked in favor for the Soviet Union.
5. Prisoners Tattooed Lenin And Stalin On Their Bodies
The rules of the Soviet Union were extremely strict, and anyone who broke them had to pay, no matter what their rank was. That resulted in millions of people spending their lives in prisons all over the Soviet Union. However, all the rules have flaws, and smart prisoners made sure to use it in their favor. For example, the law stated that it is illegal to shoot at images of national leaders, so many prisoners tattooed Lenin & Stalin faces on their bodies. It gave them some sort of immunity against guards’ bullets as no one wanted to disobey the law. It resulted in massive escapes from prisons and even more chaos. This law is one of the best examples of how delusional and censored was the Soviet Union. Stalin and other dictators felt that it is better to let prisoners escape than to profane images of the national heroes. It blows my mind how corrupted was the Soviet Union.
4. A Smallpox Outbreak
The Soviet Union was developing a biological weapon throughout the whole period of the Cold War. It was one of their top priorities to have a stronger military force than the US. However, one of the tests of the biological weapon went wrong, and the Soviet Union had to pay the price for their sloppiness. In 1971, 400 grams of smallpox caused a massive outbreak of the viral disease. The only good thing is that the government did their tests in a distant area. That said, three people still died from the outbreak. The virus also infected ten more people. Yes, the Soviet Union did a pretty great job in fixing their fail this time, but it was a clear sign that the Soviet Union was lying about not having any secret weapons. Also, the government took responsibility for this action only in 2002. Before that, they did what they knew best – the Soviet Union pretended that nothing happened and arrested everyone who had a different opinion.
3. Ration Coupons And Shortage Of Products
With all the money invested into the military, it is no surprise that the economy of the Soviet Union was struggling big time. The government introduced ration coupons to solve this problem. Those coupons could be used to get some food from the shops. It became a new kind of currency in the Soviet Union, and it had to overshadow the fact that there was a massive food shortage in the USSR. Needless to say, it was barely impossible to buy anything in the shops if you had no ration coupons. Yes, while Americans were listening to Elvis and eating their “corrupted Western food,” the people in the Soviet Union were standing in lines, waiting for their piece of bread. Nowadays people stand in lines for days to get a new iPhone, but in the Soviet Union, people did it to get a loath of bread and butter. Those ration coupons and the shortage of the most common food products is a great indicator which shows that poverty was taking control and the government did not give a damn about it.
2. Voting In Song Contest By Switching On The Lights
It should be clear by now that people did not have a lot of comfort in the Soviet Union. Naturally, there were not so many phones as well. So, when the USSR organized a song contest, they had to find a way to let all the people around the country vote for their favorites. The organizers of the show came up with a strange idea: if viewers liked the song, they had to turn on the lights in their house. If they didn’t like the song, the lights had to be turned off. This way, the state energy company recorded the size of energy flow and determined which contestant received the most points.
This voting system sounds super complicated to me. Also, I am sure that the government could easily adjust the results when they felt the need. After all, it was a national energy company, which announced who were the favorites. Of course, it is better than nothing, but still – those inefficient and funny things could only happen in the Soviet Union.
1. First Animal Astronaut Was From The Soviet Union
During the Cold War, both the US and the USSR spent billions of dollars to explore space. It became some sort of “who has a longer penis” competition. The US were first to land on the moon, while the Soviet Union sent the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, into outer space. However, do you know what the nationality of the first animal in space was?
In 1957, the Soviet Union sent the first animal into orbit. Soviet scientists had chosen a dog, Laika, to carry this responsibility. Laika was a stray dog, wandering around Moscow when scientist found it. They decided that Laika is the perfect fit because it already lived under critical conditions such as hunger and cold. I don’t know what kind of scientists made this assumption, but Laika died during the flight. So, the Soviet Union sacrificed a dog just to prove the point that they are better than Americans. And this stupid behavior lasted up until the collapse of the Soviet Union.