Soviet History

The U.S.S.R. sent legions of “liquidators” to clean up in the aftermath of the meltdown. 

Past and Presence

Footage Shows How Daily Life Didn't Change After Chernobyl—and the Cover-Up's Toxic Aftermath

A new documentary shows how the disaster transformed—and endangered—those who lived near the nuclear plant

Visitors lay wreaths at the “Square of Nations,” a memorial site at the former Flossenbürg concentration camp’s crematorium, on April 24, 2022.

History of Now

At a Former Concentration Camp, Holocaust Survivors Draw Parallels Between Nazi and Russian Rhetoric

Speakers at a ceremony marking the liberation of Flossenbürg condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims of demilitarizing and de-Nazifying Ukraine

NATO troops from a battalion based in Fort Hood, Texas, train in Germany in September 1983, two months before the Able Archer 83 drill.

The 1983 Military Drill That Nearly Sparked Nuclear War With the Soviets

Fearful that the Able Archer 83 exercise was a cover for a NATO nuclear strike, the U.S.S.R. readied its own weapons for launch

A Long Island family sits in a "Kidde Kokoon" underground bomb shelter in 1955.

Digging Up the History of the Nuclear Fallout Shelter

For 75 years, images of bunker life have reflected the shifting optimism, anxieties and cynicism of the Atomic Age

Sandbags are piled high around a statue of the Duc de Richelieu in Odessa, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022.

Inside the Efforts to Preserve Ukraine's Cultural Heritage

Here's how experts and civilians alike are working to protect the country's art, artifacts and scientific specimens

A member of the Young Tuxedo Brass Band from New Orleans poses with Ukrainian youth in Kyiv, May 1990.
 

The Music and Freedom We Experienced on the Streets of Kyiv

The story of a joint Smithsonian-Soviet-Ukrainian program in 1990 lends poignant resonance to Russia’s brutal invasion today

A collage of Vladimir Putin placing his hand on Joseph Stalin's shoulder. Richard Cohen's new book Making History details the links between the two Russian leaders.

History of Now

Vladimir Putin's Rewriting of History Draws on a Long Tradition of Soviet Myth-Making

Much like Joseph Stalin, the Russian president has used propaganda, the media and government-sanctioned books to present an ahistorical narrative

Artists in Ukraine are assisting defense groups in welding tank traps called "hedgehogs," to push back against the Russian invasion. 

These Ukrainian Artists Are Making Traps for Russian Tanks

Berlin-based artists Volo Bevza and Victoria Pidust have joined with defense groups in Lviv to help fight back against Russian forces

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial centers on journalists Dorothy Thompson, John Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker and Jimmy Vincent Sheean.

A Century Ago, American Reporters Foresaw the Rise of Authoritarianism in Europe

A new book tells the stories of four interwar writers who laid the groundwork for modern journalism

A view of the Babyn (Babi) Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv on March 2, 2022

History of Now

What Happened at Babi Yar, the Ukrainian Holocaust Site Reportedly Struck by a Russian Missile?

During WWII, the Nazis murdered 33,000 Jews at the ravine over just two days. Last week, a strike near the massacre site drew widespread condemnation

The debate over how to remember Ukraine's World War II history, as well as its implications for Ukrainian nationalism and independence, is key to understanding the current conflict.

History of Now

The 20th-Century History Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

During WWII, Ukrainian nationalists saw the Nazis as liberators from Soviet oppression. Now, Russia is using that chapter to paint Ukraine as a Nazi nation

Officials plan to exhume the remains and establish a memorial at the site.

Mass Graves in Ukraine Hold Thousands of Victims of Stalin's Great Purge

In the late 1930s, the Soviet secret police buried some 5,000 to 8,000 people at a newly excavated site in Odessa

Interest in gymnastics soared during the Cold War, when the Olympics emerged as a cultural battleground for Western and Eastern nations.

The Tokyo Olympics

A History of Gymnastics, From Ancient Greece to Tokyo 2020

The beloved Olympic sport has evolved drastically over the past 2,000 years

Peace Corps volunteer Marya Cota-Wilson gives a gardening lesson in Costa Rica in the 1980s.

Why the Peace Corps’ Mission Is Needed Now More Than Ever

On its 60th anniversary, a moment of reckoning arrives for the nation's globe-trotting volunteers

The Soviet MiG-15, a formidable aircraft, shocked the West with its ability to do hit-and-run attacks. The National Air and Space Museum displays one of these jets in the Boeing Aviation Hangar of its Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The Day Soviet Aircraft Attacked American Pilots

On that April 'Black Thursday' 70 years ago, the air war over Korea changed as the Allies scrambled to counter the superior MiG-15 jet fighter

Occupying forces murdered all the inhabitants of 629 razed Belarusian villages, in addition to burning down another 5,454 villages and killing at least a portion of their residents. Pictured: A statue of Khatyn survivor Iosif Kaminsky in front of a Belarusian village destroyed in 1941

How the 1943 Khatyn Massacre Became a Symbol of Nazi Atrocities on the Eastern Front

Decades after the murder of 149 residents of a Belarusian village, the tragedy has taken on layers of meaning far removed from the attack itself

Merab Ninidze and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Courier.

Based on a True Story

The True Story Behind 'The Courier'

A new spy thriller draws on the fascinating life—and whopping lies—of one of the U.K.'s most famous intelligence agents

Researchers unearthed three Polish nuns' remains at a municipal cemetery in Orneta.

Researchers Uncover Remains of Polish Nuns Murdered by Soviets During WWII

As the Red Army pushed the Nazis out of Poland in 1945, soldiers engaged in brutal acts of repression against civilians

Rescuers found the Dyatlov group's abandoned tent on February 26, 1959.

New Research

Have Scientists Finally Unraveled the 60-Year Mystery Surrounding Nine Russian Hikers' Deaths?

New research identifies an unusual avalanche as the culprit behind the 1959 Dyatlov Pass Incident

Russian physicist and engineer Lev Sergeyevich Termen—who later came to be widely known as Léon Theremin—invented his namesake instrument around 1920. Here, he's pictured in 1928.

Art Meets Science

The Soviet Spy Who Invented the First Major Electronic Instrument

Created by a Russian engineer, the theremin has delighted and confounded audiences since 1920

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