75 Years Ago: Kyiv, Ukraine in Ruins.

The Second Battle of Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine concluded in freezing conditions on the 22nd of December, 1943, when the Red Army defeated the occupying Germans.

The first battle took place as part of the infamous Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when the Soviets were defeated, and over 600 000 were killed or captured in the Ukrainian capital. Comparatively, around four-thousand Ukrainians were recorded as dead more missing in the second battle.

This photograph, shortly after the Nazi defeat, shows the major boulevard Khreshchatyk, Ukraine’s most famous street, in ruins.

Kiev_Kreschatik_after_liberation_November_1943 Khreshchatyk Kyiv Ukraine Second World War Two

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Memorial to the Great Purge

KurapatyforestgravesnearMinsk,Belarus_%2Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in St

Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in Stalin’s Great Purge during Soviet control of the nation.

Not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, historian Zianon Pazniak revealed the extent of the executions in the Kurapaty forest near the capital city, Minsk.

At least 30 000 people were killed in Kurapaty between 1937 and 1941, but some estimates put the number as high as 250 000.

People who attended the first commemoration – in 1988 – were attacked by the police, and to this day Kurapaty is not publicly mentioned by the pro-Russian government (run since the 1990s by dictator Alexander Lukashenko).

Pazniak fled the country in 1996 and was granted political asylum in the United States.

On this day: Dressing a Communist

Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico cutting fabric for a jacket for the secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. 26th October 1957

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26th October 1957: Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico is photographed cutting fabric for a jacket for Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev held the title of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 until 1964.

The designer, born the eldest of twelve children in Sicily in 1927, found international fame dressing political figures on both sides of the Cold War standoff.

On this day: Prisoners of War in Ukraine

Lager Winnica, gefangene Russen

28th July 1941: Red Army soldiers captured by the Nazis during food distribution at a  camp in occupied Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

In contrast to their treatment of British and American prisoners, the Germans employed a policy of deliberately mistreating Soviet prisoners of war, which resulted in 3-3.5 million deaths – an estimated 57% of all soldiers captured.

From the German Federal Archives.

Belarus after Liberation

194407_abandoned_german_vehicles_belarus_(revised) Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region o

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Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region on the 29th of June.

Belarus remained under Soviet control until the collapse of the USSR.

On this day: the Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam

Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage

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Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage.

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These images were taken in Amsterdam on the 9th of June, 1960. The Bolshoi Ballet arrives in the Netherlands for an international tour.

The Soviets believed nobody could surpass them in the arts, however dancers of the Bolshoi (Moscow) and Kirov (Saint Petersburg) companies were not always allowed to leave the USSR. Some dancers defected, while others were considered unsuitable, such as superstar Maya Plisetskaya, a Lithuanian Jew whose family faced heavy persecution in Russia.