Special Sub-Topic: Red Alert!
|In the year 1939, the post of Soviet People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs was given to Molotov. It has been taken as a hint from Stalin to Hitler that Soviet Union was willing to change its policy towards the Third Reich. If it was meant so, the Germans "rose to the bait". On 23 August 1939 the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was signed. But who was the man Molotov replaced? |
Maxim Litvinov. Maxim Litvinov was of Jewish origin, so he was unsuitable to negotiate with Nazis. He was People's Commissar 1930-1939 and served as Assistant People's Commissar from 1921-1930 and 1941-1946.
Yagoda had served in the USSR's security systems and was the main helper of Stalin at the start of the purge in Communist Party. After helping to destroy Kamenev and Zinoviev, he had done his duty - served his purpose. First he was replaced by Nikolay Yezhov, then arrested in 1937 and shot in 1938.
Anastas Mikoyan was real survivor in the struggle for the power within the Party. He was the only Commissar of Baku from back in 1919 who managed to avoid the purges and was still active in top politics in the middle of 1960s having survived all the clashes.
Lazar Kaganovich was another survivor, but in the other sense: he lived 1893-1991. In political terms he was not so successful. In 1957 he joined the first movement that aimed to depose Khrushchev. After failure he was removed from top spheres.
|After securing itself by signing a pact with Nazis, the Soviet Union started to move. It demanded, that the Baltic States would allow Soviet military bases on their soil. For blackmailing they used an incident involving a Polish submarine, which was supposed to be kept in Tallinn harbor by the Estonians after the outbreak of the Polish-German war, escaped. It was a good argument to say that the Estonians are not able to defend themselves, and this posed a threat to the USSR. too. What was the name of that submarine?|
Orzel. The Polish submarine Orzel came to Tallinn on 14 September 1939 to hospitalize its captain. Due to the requests from USSR and Germany it was interned. After the Soviets joined the Nazis in their fight against Poland, on 17 September, the ship escaped. There are at least two versions of how it happened: the Estonian one simply states that it was virtually unguarded (one guard) since sympathy was with Poles and the escape was made as easy as possible. The guard who was taken with the Poles was released near Sweden. The Polish variant is much more heroic. So, no-one knows, what exactly happened, but this incident was used by Soviets to exert pressure on the Estonians. The Orzel managed to join the British fleet in their fight against Germany and was sunk in 1940.
Metallist was another ship used to blackmail the Estonians. The Soviets claimed that it was sunk near Narva by an unknown vessel, which might have been the Orzel (or maybe Estonian borderguards) and so they argues that the Estonian navy was unable to guard Estonian waters and that is why USSR insisted that there must be Soviet bases in Estonia. The truth is, that actually the Metallist was not sunk, it was not even attacked, it was just a "myth" invented to "frame" Estonia.
Polska means Poland and Pilsudski was its famous president, who died in 1935.
|Soviet Union made demands also to Finland. When the Finns did not give in, the outcome was war. It started at the end of November 1939. By what name that war is known?|
Winter War. The war ended with the Soviets winning (on points as it were)in March 1940: Finland had to cede some territory, but remained an independent state.
The Continuation War refers to the war in which the Finns tried to regain their land by joining the Hitler's attack towards USSR.
(Eastern) Karelia was the main territory that the Finns lost in that war.
Vyborg was a town there.
|In the end of March 1940, a "republic" near the border of Finland was created by the Communist leaders to show to the Finns that Soviets still had claims to their land - that state would have been an excellent platform for annexation of all the Finland under the slogan of "national unification". What was the name of that Soviet Republic?|
Finno-Karelian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). The Finno-Karelian Soviet Socialist Republic was transformed into the Finno-Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in the Russian Federative Soviet Socialist Republic in 1956. The Finnish Democratic Republic was a Soviet puppet, created in 1939. Its purpose was to camouflage the Soviet invasion. The Soviets wanted to create the impression that they were helping the "democratic" the side in a "Finnish civil war". There has never been a Karelian Socialist Republic.
|Who was that Soviet politician who supervised the annexation of Latvia in 1940? He was the chief public prosecutor during the purges in 1930s, later he was the man who established the Communist régime in Romania in 1944-48 and from 1949 to 1953 he served as Soviet Unions Foreign Minister. He died in 1954. Who was he?|
Andrey Vyshinsky. Dekanozov supervised the annexation of Lithuania and Zhdanov did same job in Estonia. Zinoviev was an important leader and theorist of Communist Party in the 1920s but he was convicted of treason and shot during the purges.
|In South, the Soviets annexed the area known as Bessarabia and created Moldovan SSR there. To which country did Bessarabia belong immediately prior to 1940?|
Romania. Most of the people in that area were actually Romanians. To justify the formation of Moldova (Moldavia) the Soviets created a new, fictitious nation: Moldavians. For that, they invented the theory that the Moldavians have half-Latin, half-Slavic in origin while the Romanians were considered to be "pure Latins". The Soviets imposed the use of the Cyrillic alphabet and introduced words of Russian origin and added Slavic endings to the Romanian place-names.
|After the end of Poland as an independent state in 1939, the Soviets awarded Lithuania a city that until then had been a part of the Polish state. Which city?|
Vilnius. Vilnius was considered as historic capital of Lithuania. After the formation of independent states in Eastern Europe at the end of WWI it finally became the property of Poland and that severely strained relations between Poland and Lithuania. The Polish dictator Pilsudski came from that region, so it might have been one reason for Poland clinging to that area. Klaipeda, also known as Memel was a Lithuanian port, but had previously been part of Germany, which still claimed it. Lvov was a Polish city what went to Ukraine and Augustow is still in Poland, near Lithuanian border.
|Of the territories occupied by Soviets in 1940, one had not bordered Soviet Union before the Soviet Union annexed the eastern part of Poland in 1939. Which?|
Lithuania. Lithuania was separated from Soviet Union by Poland. Nowadays that 'intervening' area belongs to Belarus. After the war some German areas were given to Poland as compensation. Nowadays Lithuania has a border with Russia, thanks to the Kaliningrad's enclave (and of course, as mentioned above, has a border with Belarus). Latvia and Karelia had a common border with Russia, and Bessarabia bordered Ukraine.
|Eastern Europe was not the only region where the Soviets advanced. In the Far East, near the border of China, was a small state what was "swallowed" by the Russian Bear during the WWII. It was incorporated to Russian SFSR and its independence was never restored. What country was that?|
Tannu-Tuva. Actually it happened in 1944, but it fits well here, so I decided to include it.
Tannu-Tuva seceded from China in 1911, but was strongly under Russian influence. A Soviet Republic had been created there in 1921 but was overthrown in 1924.
Tatarstan and Sakha are Russian provinces, Tatarstan is situated North from Caspian Sea, Sakha also known as Yakutia, the biggest of the "republics" on Russian territory, is in Northern Far-East. Manchukuo was Japanese puppet-state in Manchuria in Northern China.
|Which was the last country to be incorporated into the Soviet Union as a Soviet Socialist Republic?|
Estonia. Moldova on 2 August 1940
Lithuania on 3 August 1940
Latvia on 5 August 1940
Estonia on 6 August 1940
In Estonia, once there was a popular question: name the city that has been Soviet Union's border-city for one day? Answer was Valga: city that is located on Estonian-Latvian border (Latvians call their half Valka). As Latvia was incorporated day earlier, it was Soviet Union's border-city on 5 August 1940.
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