When was the Soviet Union formed?
The Soviet Union was a communist state in Eastern Europe and Asia. The full name was: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR for short. It existed from 1922 to 1991. Many countries that are independent today belonged to it: above all Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. There were also the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in the Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and in Asia Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
All of these countries had belonged to the Russian Empire before the First World War. In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, the communists came to power there under their leader Lenin. Five years later the Soviet Union was founded. Its full name was: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR for short. Union is another word for union, and the Russian word “soviet” means council.
In the council republics, one should no longer decide alone, but everyone together. In fact, soon only one party had the say in the Soviet Union, namely the Communist party. People who disagreed were killed in large numbers or imprisoned in camps where they had to do heavy labor.
During the Second World War, the Soviet Union was attacked by National Socialist Germany and suffered great hardship and destruction. The violence of the attackers welded the people together, and after four years of war the Soviet Union won the war, also with the help of its Western allies.
Why does the Soviet Union no longer exist?
Victory in World War II had made the Soviet Union very powerful. She had conquered many countries in Eastern Europe. These remained their own countries, but now they too were ruled by communism. Soviet soldiers stayed there for a long time. The Soviet Union and these countries were called the Eastern Bloc. This also included the eastern part of Germany, the German Democratic Republic.
In ancient Russia, the vast majority of people were farmers. In the Soviet era, on the other hand, a lot of industry was built, also to be able to manufacture weapons. The Soviet Union also wanted to show that it knows a lot about science and technology. The first space rocket, the first satellite and the first human in space all came from the Soviet Union.
In the years after 1980, however, there were more and more problems in the economy. People became more and more dissatisfied. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the head of the country. He wanted a better economy and a little democracy too. Admittedly, Gorbachev did not want to allow any new parties. But the residents should at least be able to choose which communist politicians they wanted.
Gorbachev wanted fewer weapons and fewer arguments with the rest of the world, because that was all bad for the economy. However, people in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc have noticed that it is now easier to stand up for freedom. Because the Soviet soldiers and policemen had become unsure of how strict they could still be.
From 1989 onwards, things went pretty quickly: more and more countries in the Eastern Bloc elected new, democratic politicians. The Baltic countries made themselves independent. In the Soviet Union itself there were politicians who wanted a new Russia. In December 1991 the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.
Especially in Russia, many people mourn the Soviet Union. They think: Russia should become as strong and powerful again as it was then. But some Russians want to know more about what bad happened in the Soviet era. Most of the people in the former Eastern Bloc, in Poland or Estonia, are very happy that the Soviet Union no longer exists.
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