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Top 10 Terrifying Facts About the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was one of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century, but given the considerable time frame of its existence and the subsequent collapse, many details have disappeared from public memory. In addition, terms like dictatorship are often used casually in political debates without understanding exactly what real tyranny actually looks like. For this reason, it is important to analyze the peculiarities of why the USSR is considered one of the darkest periods in human history.

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10 Government Approved Pseudoscience Soviet Socialism (typically referred to as Communism) was considered scientific by its supporters, and science was undoubtedly subject to ideology.

Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet scientist who supported an alternative theory to genetics that would become known as Lysenkoism. He was hostile to the idea of ​​genetics, which emphasized unchangeable properties. This contradicted his Marxist beliefs that with the right conditioning, society and ultimately humanity could be perfected. [1


The Soviet government eagerly accepted Lysenko's ideas and his theory was installed as the only acceptable point of view within agricultural science. All scientists who questioned this were removed from their positions and smeared publicly. Many were locked up and executed. In the Soviet Union, science was not only hindered for decades; these false theories also exacerbated the famines of the 1930s. [2]

9 Psychiatry was used to silence political dissidents.

Political dissidents have been detained for years in mental institutions and forcibly in the face of mind-altering drugs to question the Marxist doctrine. It was claimed that anyone who lived in a socialist system but was still against socialism had to be crazy.

The Soviet authorities even invented a new psychiatric term; "Sluggish schizophrenia". His symptoms included an obsession with philosophy or religion, "madness for reform" and an excessive self-esteem. But, of course, the disorder was completely fabricated and intentionally vague so that it could be associated with dissidents if necessary. [3]

What made this method particularly effective was that once a person's mental health was questioned, they were not subject to the same proper process as criminal proceedings. [4] This gave the state even more power than normal, as it was not necessary to provide the accused with basic details of their case. Approximately 20,000 people have been institutionalized under such claims, but the total is believed to be significantly higher. [5]

8 One of Stalin's best henchmen was a sexual predator.

Lavrentiy Beria was a Soviet politician and state security administrator under Stalin. He started his career as the chief of police in Georgia and eventually became chief of the secret police, overseer of the Gulag prison system, and member of the central committee. Stalin warmly described him as "my Himmler". [6]

In addition to being responsible for the murder, torture, and incorrect detention of millions of people, he was also a well-known sexual dissenter. In his spare time, he roamed the streets of Moscow and identified young women who could kidnap his sidekicks and transport them to his private home, where he would sexually assault them. After his death, Beria's villa was turned into an embassy, ​​and dozens of teenage teenage girls and bones were discovered on the property during renovations. [7]

Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore notes that Beria's depravity was known to the Soviet leadership. While Stalin tolerated Beria because of his reliability, in one case when Stalin heard that his daughter was with Beria, he called desperately and ordered her to leave immediately.

7 The Gulag was a key element of the Soviet economy

The labor camp system was originally created by Lenin, but was worst under Stalin. These camps, known as the Gulag, were used to detain those accused of political crimes. The conditions in the camps were appalling. Abuse and abuse were common and it was estimated that up to 2 million people died in them. [8]

These camps acted as tools of political terror and also made slave labor easier. The Soviet authorities viewed the gulag as a way to help the economy and believed that it could generate substantial income. [9]

Gulag prisoners were often deployed in mines, forests and oil fields, and large construction projects. Huge amounts of the resources were made from forced labor, creating a whole industry for itself. In Kolyma, a region in the far east of Russia, there were 80 Gulag properties, all of which were dedicated to the extraction of its significant gold deposits. [10]

However, the Gulag proved to be an ineffective model because it is not surprising that slaves are not good workers. The labor camp ultimately put a massive strain on public finances.

6 Hunger was used as a weapon

Several famines occurred in the USSR as a result of the collectivization of agricultural holdings. This was largely due to the fact that this policy simply does not work, but what is also true is that the Soviet authorities knew that access to food could be used to control the population.

This strategy was applied in one of the most notorious strategies of 20th century artificial famines, the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. What was particularly cruel about this famine was that it was not only caused by incompetence, bad politics or refusal. Rather, it was deliberately made and deteriorated by Stalin in order to exterminate the kulaks, farmers who were economically more successful than the rest of the population and thus class enemies. [11]

Historians have also speculated that the famine was directed against Ukraine to weaken its national identity. The Ukrainian nationalists had fought violently against the Bolshevik rule during the Russian civil war, and Stalin was not prepared to risk the region's emergence. After confiscating grain and livestock, the Soviet forces closed the borders and arrested – or simply shot – anyone who tried to escape. Four million Ukrainians are estimated to have died as a result of the famine, but the true number will never be known as coordinated efforts have been made to meet the death toll.

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5 Initially, the Soviet Union was happy to work with the Nazis.

While Nazism and Communism were bitter enemies, the two ideologies saw that they had more in common than their non-authoritarian rivals. After all, both are fundamentally socialist systems.

Their uncomfortable but mutually beneficial association reached its peak in August 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Officially, this was a neutrality pact, but in reality it was also an agreement on which areas of Eastern Europe the two regimes would take over. Poland was the main target of this agreement, and within two weeks the two powers occupied the nation in September 1939. When the Nazis pulled Jews together in half of the country, the Soviets systematically murdered Polish intellectuals and military officers in their sector. [12]

Years before this agreement, the secret police of both regimes, the Gestapo and the NKVD, worked together by exchanging political dissidents who had fled their respective countries. Oddly enough, the NKVD handed over numerous German communists to their Nazi colleagues. Many of those traded between the two agencies would end in either the Gulag or SS concentration camps. [13]

4 Terror and violence were central parts of the communist regime the beginning

When the atrocities of the Soviet Union are discussed, much of the focus is placed on Stalin. However, this means that the crimes of other former revolutionary figures are overlooked, especially the founder of the USSR, Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin firmly believed that there could be no peaceful transition from capitalism to communism. The wealthy elites could only be removed from power by force, not to mention that they had to be punished for their crime of exploiting the people. Even after the Bolsheviks took control of the government, violence, and especially terror, was used to control the population and eliminate any perceived threat to their power.

Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people were executed and imprisoned during the "Red Terror", a campaign of violence against people called class enemies. In addition, numerous uprisings were brutally put down in the early years of the Bolshevik government. [14]

All of this was organized and approved by Lenin. The secret police, originally called Cheka, and the Gulag were established under his leadership. He also explicitly stated that the goal was to subjugate the population. [15]

3 “Fake News” was the idea of ​​the KGB.

The KGB was the institutional successor to the Cheka and the NKVD, which operated from 1954 to 1991 and was responsible for state security. His main goal abroad was to promote political unrest and Marxist ideology.

One of the KGB's best known activities was to plant false stories in Western media and spread conspiracy theories to destroy trust in institutions and stimulate conflict. Today this is commonly known as "false news", but its origins can be traced back to the communist secret service, which called it "disinformation". [16]

One of the best known cases of A successful disinformation campaign took place in 1984 when the US media reported the alleged scandal of the AID virus caused by the American government. Indeed, this was a lie that had been carefully elaborated by the Soviet secret service and strategically inserted into foreign news sources until it reached western journalists.

While the KGB was officially dissolved in Russia, its influence and tactics can still be observed today, undoubtedly being promoted by the emergence of the Internet. [17]

2 The Great Terror was almost exclusively fueled by Stalin's paranoia and sadism

Historian Stephen Kotkin describes the Great Terror as "an episode that appears to oppose a rational explanation". Between 1936 and 1938 Stalin carried out a comprehensive political cleansing of his administrative, military and diplomatic ranks. Hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested, tortured, detained and, in many cases, executed without further ado due to imaginary political crimes.

Here, too, there was no reasonable reason to inflict this chaos on the country. Historians have been amazed at Stalin's actions for decades, given that his position as leader was probably stronger than ever and there were no obvious internal threats to the Soviet Union. Although several theories have been put forward, Kotkin suggests that the most credible explanation is that Stalin wanted to psychologically destroy his inner circle so they would never try to undermine it. In addition to this twisted motivation, Stalin's paranoia faced the influence of his exile rival Leo Trotsky, especially after Trotsky published books criticizing Stalin. [18]

The terror was not only completely unnecessary, it also harmed the regime. With many of the most experienced and competent officers of the Red Army cleaned up during the terror, the Soviet forces' ability to defend themselves was severely weakened when the Nazis invaded in 1941. This led to extremely high casualties for the Soviets.

1 There was institutional anti-Semitism

Soviet anti-Semitism was largely taken over from the Tsarist period, and the probably communist anti-Semitism can be traced back to Karl Marx himself, who firmly linked Judaism to greed and exploitation , [19]

Bigotry towards Jews was also closely linked to the Soviet Union's anti-Zionist campaign. There was even an official organization called the Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public, which explicitly stated that Zionists were collaborators with the Nazis, enabled genocides in Eastern Europe, and intentionally exaggerated the Jewish victim during the war. [20]

Although the government publicly claimed to differentiate between Zionism and Jews, there was in fact institutional discrimination. Jews were prevented from doing certain jobs and were often made the scapegoat for political witch hunts. In addition, as part of the Soviet anti-religion campaign, Jewish belief was exposed to various forms of state oppression alongside other religious beliefs.

After the Six Day War in 1967, all Jewish-Soviet citizens applying for immigration to Israel were denied permission and were seen as enemies of the people. These people, the "Refuseniks", faced serious social and legal ramifications, many of which have been imprisoned for years. [21]

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About the Author: Sam is a freelance writer living in London. His interests include history, science and MMA. You will probably find him in the gym or in a cafe reading a book.

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