Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy K. Zhukov is often credited for being one of the best generals in history, in the rank of Napoleon or Alexander the Great. He played a seminal role in the Soviet and, in turn, allied victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Yet once the war was won and peace arrived, interest in his life dissipates. This poses a question - what happened to Zhukov after WW2?
During Joseph Stalin’s long rule there weren’t many who managed not only to say no but to openly defy him, especially in the communist realm. Among those few who managed to stand their ground against “the man of steel” were Josip Broz Tito and Yugoslavia. For most of the world, the abrupt end of the Yugoslav-Soviet friendship was a shocking turn of events. Yet the question arises - was the event as important as some have claimed?
Introduction When Nazi Germany decided to attack the Soviet Union, the infamous operation Barbarossa, city of Leningrad (modern St. Petersburg) became one of three main targets of the offensive. It was an industrial hub, the base of the Soviet Baltic fleet, and held ideological and political importance as the birthplace of the revolution and former capital. However, the main goal set by Hitler wasn’t capturing the city, but rather destroying it along with its population.
Introduction The New World envisioned by the Nazis collapsed with the defeat of the Axis in World War Two. Instead, a whole different world was about to be built with Communism as one of its pillars. As the war was ending, the red wave coming from the east was unstoppable, changing the political map of pre-war Europe along the way. The entire eastern part of the continent fell into the firm grip of Moscow, turning the countries in the region into de facto puppets of the Soviet Union.
The USSR has been unarguably one of the most significant factors of the 20th century, leaving a substantial mark on world history. It was one of two world superpowers and a leader of the communist bloc in the Cold War, without mentioning other various aspects and contributions to science, culture, technology, etc. Often depicted as a “world’s bad guy” and dubbed the Red Giant as a menacing figure indicating its leading ideology, most of the world thought the Soviet Union was a strong and stable nation that would endure for a long time.
It is often the destiny of small nations to be swallowed by the big ones. Human history has witnessed more than a few of them disappear as if they never existed. However, after the First World War, many of them, long forgotten, resurrected. The all-proclaimed right of self-determination gave birth to several new countries, old nations. Among them were three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It was, however, their ill fortune that the peace established in Versailles was not destined to last long.
Introduction Throughout history, famine and other similar disasters plagued humankind. Those were usually caused by natural forces beyond human control. Yet, the 20th century proved that nature was never able to match human errors in its destructibility and fatality. Disregarding the intentional killing and destruction of modern warfare, the most disastrous event of that century was the famine caused by the Great Leap Forward (GLF) campaign in China. It was unintentional, a perfect storm of errors and stubbornness, faulty reasoning, and reliance on ideology rather than factuality.
As a new world emerged from the ruins of World War II, a novel confrontation began to emerge. It was much less volatile, earning the nickname “Cold War”. It was an ideological and political struggle between two major world powers – the Soviet Union representing communism and the United States heralding capitalism. This simmering hostility went on to define international politics for the rest of the 20th century. Yet this simplified portrait of the struggle between eastern and western blocs is rather misleading because as it depicts two alliances as unified monoliths. This wasn’t true in neither case, but it was substantially more prominent in the communist sphere where two larges countries came to the brink of an actual armed confrontation.
As World War II came to an end, both Europe and the world slowly started to divide between two major powers – the US in the west and the USSR in the east. Though in the immediate post-war years these two blocs tried to at least present themselves as friends, by the late 1940s it was clear that the two ideological camps entered a confrontation that was quickly dubbed the Cold War. It was painted as an ongoing struggle for world supremacy of two ideas – capitalism in the west and communism in the east.