Trouble in the Baltics: Nationalism, Environmentalism, and Singing(?)

As the new leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev believed it was necessary to institute broad reforms that would revitalize the Soviet economy and increase productivity. His famous policies of Perestroika (“restructuring”) and Glasnost (“openness”)  expanded political freedoms, decreased press and creative censorship, increased government transparency, and expanded democratic elements in local governments. Contrary […]

Khrushchev’s War on Religion

The period of “de-Stalinization” led by the Soviet Union’s new leader, Nikita Khrushchev was marked by a rolling back of many of Stalin’s most oppressive and brutal policies. However, one place in which Khrushchev strongly contradicted this trend was in his treatment of the Orthodox Church and religion in general. After a period of toleration […]

Dacha: The Soviet Dream

Since the 18th century the dachas had been a symbol of privilege and power. Originating in Tsarist Russia under the reign of Peter the Great, dachas, from the Russian words for “to give” and “gift,” were plots of land, often outside major cities, bequeathed to the empire’s loyal subjects. On these estates, the owners would […]

A Job the Soviets Couldn’t Finnish

Despite the hostilities between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the 1930s due to ideological differences and rising power, Hitler offered Stalin an offer he simply could not refuse. On August 23, 1939 the two parties agreed on the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact  that ensured mutual neutrality and secretly partitioned areas of Eastern Europe including […]

The Soldiers’ Revolution

When the Russian Empire entered World War I in August of 1914, the Tsarist regime viewed it as a chance to renew patriotic fervor and confidence in the government. Since the institution of a weak constitutional order after the 1905 Russian Revolution, the Russian autocracy existed in a constant state of peril. A victory against … Continue reading The Soldiers’ Revolution

Christianity and the Church Before the Revolution

This photograph, taken from the Prokudin-Gorskii collection at the Library of Congress shows the Cathedral of St. Nicholas towering over residential structures in the outskirts of Mozhaisk, an ancient town 68 miles west of Moscow. I chose the photograph because of the striking contrast between the imposing, brightly-colored cathedral and the quaint scene of a … Continue reading Christianity and the Church Before the Revolution