On this day: the death of a dictator’s mother

Kim_Jeong_Suk_1 North Korea in 1945 Korean anti-Japanese guerrilla, a Communist activist, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung_s first wife, Aged 25

In her mid-twenties in 1945. X

Kim Jong-suk, a Korean anti-Japanese guerrilla fighter, Communist, and mother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, died on the 22nd of September, 1949.

North_Korea_-_Great_Mother_(5015266475) Great Mother Kim Jong Suk safeguarding Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung at the risk of her life.

The “Great Mother” as a fighter in a propaganda painting. X

Twenty-nine at the time of her death, while the official state explanation is that she died of the hardships of fighting for Korea, it is thought she possibly died either giving birth to a stillborn son, from tuberculosis, or from a gunshot wound. Her death is not even mentioned in her biography.

Heo_Jong-suk_and_Kim_Jong-suk_ather_in_Pyongyang Heo Jong-suk and Kim Jong-suk 1948.

The year before her death. X

Kim Jong-suk was the first wife of Kim Il-sung, and the grandmother of current leader Kim Jong-un. She is buried in the “Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery” near Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea.

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On this day: the beginning of independence from the USSR

On the 24th of July, 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the people of Ukraine celebrated their first National Flag Day. At an event in the centre of Kyiv (Kiev), the capital city, the blue and yellow flag was raised for the first time since being outlawed by Moscow when Russia absorbed Ukraine into the USSR.

Today the event takes place in August.

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Kiev_24_7_1990_Ukrainian_Flag The occasion of the raising of the Ukrainian flag outside Kiev's city hall on 24th July 1990 (during the decline of the USSR) Kyiv Soviet Union

On this day: a protest against communism

Ukrainians in Sydney, Australia march against Russian communism on the 28th of June, 1953. This image appeared in The Canberra Times the following day.

More Ukrainians died under Stalin’s rule than the entire death toll of the Holocaust, with ethnic Ukrainians singled out by Soviet authorities for a genocide barely recognised by the world until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukrainians demonstrating against Russian Communism in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Just come from a Ukrainian Orthodox Church service at St. Andrew's Cathedral and were heading towards the

On this day: Magdeburg in Ruins

This image of the German city of Magdeburg was taken on the 29th of May, 1952, seven years after the end of the Second World War.

Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, as the city was occupied by the Soviets at the end of the war (and the region turned into East Germany), very few of the city’s pre-war buildings were ever restored. Many were left in their bombed state or simply abandoned for years before being pulled down.

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Magdeburg, Blick auf die zerstörte Altstadt

On this day: the death of a prima ballerina

Maya_Plisetskaya_-_1974Plisetskaya performing in Carmen (1974)

As Carmen in 1974.

Soviet ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, one of only a handful of dancers in history to hold the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta, died on the 2nd of May, 2015.

Born into a prominent family of Lithuanian Jews, Plisetskaya completed her ballet training in Moscow, first performing at the Bolshoi Theatre at the age of eleven.

Maya Plisetskaya Grand Jete Ballet Vintage

Despite being one of the most respected dancers in history, she was treated badly by the anti-Semitic Russian authorities. For the first sixteen years of her career she was banned from leaving the country.

Her father was executed during the Stalinist purges, and her mother, a famous Lithuanian film actress, spent several years in a gulag in Kazakhstan.

Maya Plisetskaya Ballet Vintage

Plisetskaya followed in the footsteps of another great Soviet ballerina: Galina Ulanova, and took over her position as the Bolshoi’s star dancer upon Ulanova’s retirement. Plisetskaya was a member of the Theatre until 1990.

Succumbing to a heart attack, she was eighty-nine at the time of her death.

On this day: a nuclear disaster in the USSR

This is the first picture taken of the destroyed nuclear reactor in Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian), Ukraine. 27th April, 1986.

Taken from a helicopter flying over to assess the damage, the image is foggy because of radiation.

This is 4pm, fourteen hours after the explosion that immediately killed two, and would be directly responsible for the deaths of another twenty-nine people in the days to come.

27th-april-1986-the-first-photo-to-be-taken-of-the-chernobyl-chornobyl-reactor-at-4pm-14-hours-after-the-explosion-this-was-taken-from-the-first-helicopter-to-fly-over-the-disaster-zone-to-evaluat