Rail transport is a means of transferring of passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails known as tracks. It is commonly referred to as train transport. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Tracks consist of steel rails, installed on ties and ballast, on which the rolling stock fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are possible, such as slab track, where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface. Rolling stock in a rail transport system encounters lower frictional resistance than road vehicles, so passenger and freight cars can be coupled into longer trains; the operation is carried out by a railway company, providing transport between train stations or freight customer facilities. Power is provided by locomotives which either draw electric power from a railway electrification system or produce their own power by diesel engines.
Most tracks are accompanied by a signalling system. Railways are a safe land transport system. Railway transport is capable of high levels of passenger and cargo utilization and energy efficiency, but is less flexible and more capital-intensive than road transport, when lower traffic levels are considered; the oldest known, man/animal-hauled railways date back to the 6th century BC in Greece. Rail transport commenced in mid 16th century in Germany in the form of horse-powered funiculars and wagonways. Modern rail transport commenced with the British development of the steam locomotives in the early 19th century, thus the railway system in Great Britain is the oldest in the world. Built by George Stephenson and his son Robert's company Robert Stephenson and Company, the Locomotion No. 1 is the first steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public rail line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. George Stephenson built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use only the steam locomotives all the time, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830.
With steam engines, one could construct mainline railways, which were a key component of the Industrial Revolution. Railways reduced the costs of shipping, allowed for fewer lost goods, compared with water transport, which faced occasional sinking of ships; the change from canals to railways allowed for "national markets" in which prices varied little from city to city. The spread of the railway network and the use of railway timetables, led to the standardisation of time in Britain based on Greenwich Mean Time. Prior to this, major towns and cities varied their local time relative to GMT; the invention and development of the railway in the United Kingdom was one of the most important technological inventions of the 19th century. The world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, opened in 1863. In the 1880s, electrified trains were introduced, leading to electrification of tramways and rapid transit systems. Starting during the 1940s, the non-electrified railways in most countries had their steam locomotives replaced by diesel-electric locomotives, with the process being complete by the 2000s.
During the 1960s, electrified high-speed railway systems were introduced in Japan and in some other countries. Many countries are in the process of replacing diesel locomotives with electric locomotives due to environmental concerns, a notable example being Switzerland, which has electrified its network. Other forms of guided ground transport outside the traditional railway definitions, such as monorail or maglev, have been tried but have seen limited use. Following a decline after World War II due to competition from cars, rail transport has had a revival in recent decades due to road congestion and rising fuel prices, as well as governments investing in rail as a means of reducing CO2 emissions in the context of concerns about global warming; the history of rail transport began in the 6th century BC in Ancient Greece. It can be divided up into several discrete periods defined by the principal means of track material and motive power used. Evidence indicates that there was 6 to 8.5 km long Diolkos paved trackway, which transported boats across the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece from around 600 BC.
Wheeled vehicles pulled by men and animals ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element, preventing the wagons from leaving the intended route. The Diolkos was in use for over 650 years, until at least the 1st century AD; the paved trackways were later built in Roman Egypt. In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang wrote a description of the Reisszug, a funicular railway at the Hohensalzburg Fortress in Austria; the line used wooden rails and a hemp haulage rope and was operated by human or animal power, through a treadwheel. The line still exists and is operational, although in updated form and is the oldest operational railway. Wagonways using wooden rails, hauled by horses, started appearing in the 1550s to facilitate the transport of ore tubs to and from mines, soon became popular in Europe; such an operation was illustrated in Germany in 1556 by Georgius Agricola in his work De re metallica. This line used "Hund" carts with unflanged wheels running on wooden planks and a vertical pin on the truck fitting into the gap between the planks to keep it going the right way.
The miners called the wagons Hunde from the noise. There are many references to their use in central Europe in the 16th century; such a transport system was used by German miners at Cal
Vehicle registration plate
A vehicle registration plate known as a number plate or a license plate, is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction; the registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle owner within the issuing region's vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person varies by issuing agency. There are electronic license plates. Most governments require a registration plate to be attached to both the front and rear of a vehicle, although certain jurisdictions or vehicle types, such as motorboats, require only one plate, attached to the rear of the vehicle.
National databases relate this number to other information describing the vehicle, such as the make, colour, year of manufacture, engine size, type of fuel used, mileage recorded, vehicle identification number, the name and address of the vehicle's registered owner or keeper. In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the government holds a monopoly on the manufacturing of vehicle registration plates for that jurisdiction. Either a government agency or a private company with express contractual authorization from the government makes plates as needed, which are mailed to, delivered to, or picked up by the vehicle owners. Thus, it is illegal for private citizens to make and affix their own plates, because such unauthorized private manufacturing is equivalent to forging an official document. Alternatively, the government will assign plate numbers, it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to find an approved private supplier to make a plate with that number. In some jurisdictions, plates will be permanently assigned to that particular vehicle for its lifetime.
If the vehicle is either destroyed or exported to a different country, the plate number is retired or reissued. China requires the re-registration of any vehicle that crosses its borders from another country, such as for overland tourist visits, regardless of the length of time it is due to remain there. Other jurisdictions follow a "plate-to-owner" policy, meaning that when a vehicle is sold the seller removes the current plate from the vehicle. Buyers must either obtain new plates or attach plates they hold, as well as register their vehicles under the buyer's name and plate number. A person who sells a car and purchases a new one can apply to have the old plates put onto the new car. One who sells a car and does not buy a new one may, depending on the local laws involved, have to turn the old plates in or destroy them, or may be permitted to keep them; some jurisdictions permit the registration of the vehicle with "personal" plates. In some jurisdictions, plates require periodic replacement associated with a design change of the plate itself.
Vehicle owners may or may not have the option to keep their original plate number, may have to pay a fee to exercise this option. Alternately, or additionally, vehicle owners have to replace a small decal on the plate or use a decal on the windshield to indicate the expiration date of the vehicle registration, periodic safety and/or emissions inspections or vehicle taxation. Other jurisdictions have replaced the decal requirement through the use of computerization: a central database maintains records of which plate numbers are associated with expired registrations, communicating with automated number plate readers to enable law-enforcement to identify expired registrations in the field. Plates are fixed directly to a vehicle or to a plate frame, fixed to the vehicle. Sometimes, the plate frames contain advertisements inserted by the vehicle service centre or the dealership from which the vehicle was purchased. Vehicle owners can purchase customized frames to replace the original frames. In some jurisdictions registration plate frames have design restrictions.
For example, many states, like Texas, allow plate frames but prohibit plate frames from covering the name of the state, district, Native American tribe or country that issued of license plate. Plates are designed to conform to standards with regard to being read by eye in day or at night, or by electronic equipment; some drivers purchase clear, smoke-colored or tinted covers that go over the registration plate to prevent electronic equipment from scanning the registration plate. Legality of these covers varies; some cameras incorporate filter systems that make such avoidance attempts unworkable with infra-red filters. Vehicles pulling trailers, such as caravans and semi-trailer trucks, are required to display a third registration plate on the rear of the trailer. An engineering study by the University of Illinois published in 1960 recommended that the state of Illinois adopt a numbering system and plate design "composed of combinations of characters which can be perceived and are legible at a distance of 125 feet under daylight conditions, are adapted to filing and administrative procedures".
It recommended that a standard plate size of 6 inches by 14 inches be adopte
The Baranovichi Offensive was a battle fought on the Eastern Front during World War I between an army of Russia and the forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary in July 1916. Concurrent to an attack by Russian Southwestern Front, the Russian Western Front was to launch an offensive in the direction of Vilna. However, the plan of attack was changed - instead of an attack on Vilna, the offensive was to target the area of Baranovichi; this change of direction came about due to orders from above, mediated in a vision to Grigory Rasputin, accepted by the Tsar, as commander-in-chief. In early June 1916, the troops of the Southwestern Front began their offensive, achieving breakthroughs against the Austro-Hungarian army and advancing into Galicia. However, General A. E. Evert, commander of the Russian Western Front, twice postponed planned offensive towards Baranovichi, first on May 31 on June 4, attempted to cancel the operation altogether. By order of Russian GHQ, General Evert was obliged to " attack the enemy on the front - Nowogrodek - Baranovichi" on June 3.
The Russian Fourth Army launched the first attack on July 2 with three army corps, but had stalled by the next day. The Russians revived the offensive on July 4 but again stalled after only two days of fighting. Under the cover of night on July 8, the Russians launched a third push but all Russian attacks were repulsed by the end of the following day. On July 14, the German Army took back all lost ground. A final Russian attempt was made from July 25 to July 29, but yet again failed. Despite months of preparation and a sixfold advantage in manpower and artillery, the Russians failed to break through the fortified German positions, seizing only the first fortified line in some areas of the offensive, lost to German counterattacks. John Keegan: Der erste Weltkrieg. Eine europaische Tragodie. Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-499-61194-5 Norman Stone: The Eastern Front 1914–1917. Penguin Books Ltd. London 1998, ISBN 0-14-026725-5 Christian Zentner: Der erste Weltkrieg. Daten, Kommentare.
Moewig, Rastatt 2000, ISBN 3-8118-1652-7
Congress Poland or Russian Poland, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland, was a polity created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna as a sovereign Polish state. Until the November Uprising in 1831, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Tsars of Russia. Thereafter, the state was forcibly integrated into the Russian Empire over the course of the 19th century. In 1915, during World War I, it was replaced by the Central Powers with the nominal Regency Kingdom of Poland, which continued to exist until Poland regained independence in 1918. Following the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland ceased to exist as an independent state for 123 years; the territory, with its native population, was split between the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire. An equivalent to Congress Poland within the Austrian Empire was the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria commonly referred to as "Austrian Poland"; the area incorporated into Prussia and subsequently the German Empire had little autonomy and was a province within Prussia - the Province of Posen.
The Kingdom of Poland enjoyed considerable political autonomy as guaranteed by the liberal constitution. However, its rulers, the Russian Emperors disregarded any restrictions on their power, it was, little more than a puppet state of the Russian Empire. The autonomy was curtailed following uprisings in 1830–31 and 1863, as the country became governed by namiestniks, divided into guberniya, thus from the start, Polish autonomy remained little more than fiction. The capital was located in Warsaw, which towards the beginning of the 20th century became the Russian Empire's third-largest city after St. Petersburg and Moscow; the moderately multicultural population of Congress Poland was estimated at 9,402,253 inhabitants in 1897. It was composed of Poles, Polish Jews, ethnic Germans and an insignificant Russian minority; the predominant religion was Roman Catholicism and the official language used within the state was Polish until the January Uprising when Russian became co-official. Yiddish and German were spoken by its native speakers.
The territory of Congress Poland corresponds to modern-day Kalisz Region and the Lublin, Łódź, Masovian and Holy Cross Voivodeships of Poland as well as southwestern Lithuania and part of Grodno District of Belarus. Although the official name of the state was the Kingdom of Poland, in order to distinguish it from other Kingdoms of Poland, it is sometimes referred to as "Congress Poland"; the Kingdom of Poland was created out of the Duchy of Warsaw, a French client state, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 when the great powers reorganized Europe following the Napoleonic wars. The Kingdom was created on part of the Polish territory, partitioned by Russia and Prussia replacing, after Napoleon's defeat, the Duchy of Warsaw, set up by Napoleon in 1807. After Napoleon's 1812 defeat, the fate of the Duchy of Warsaw was dependent on Russia. Prussia insisted on the Duchy being eliminated, but after Russian troops reached Paris in 1812, Tsar Alexander I intended to annex to the Duchy the Lithuanian-Belarusian lands, now controlled by the Tsardom, which used to be a part of the First Polish Republic and to unite thus created Polish country with Russia.
Both Austria and England did not approve of that idea, Austria issuing a memorandum on returning to the 1795 resolutions, this idea supported by England under George IV and Prime Minister Robert Jenkinson and the English delegate to the Congress, Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, so in effect the Tsar, after the so-called Hundred Days, established the Kingdom of Poland and the 1815 Congress of Vienna approved. After the Congress, Russia gained a larger share of Poland and, after crushing an insurrection in 1831, the Congress Kingdom's autonomy was abolished and Poles faced confiscation of property, forced military service, the closure of their own universities; the Congress was important enough in the creation of the state to cause the new country to be named for it. The Kingdom lost its status as a sovereign state in 1831 and the administrative divisions were reorganized, it was sufficiently distinct that its name remained in official Russian use, although in the years of Russian rule it was replaced with the Privislinsky Krai.
Following the defeat of the November Uprising its separate institutions and administrative arrangements were abolished as part of increased Russification to be more integrated with the Russian Empire. However after this formalized annexation, the territory retained some degree of distinctiveness and continued to be referred to informally as Congress Poland until the Russian rule there ended as a result of the advance by the armies of the Central Powers in 1915 during World War I; the Kingdom had an area of 128,500 km2 and a population of 3.3 million. The new state would be one of the smallest Polish states smaller than the preceding Duchy of Warsaw and much smaller than the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which had a population of 10 million and an area of 1 million km2, its population reached 6.1 million by 1870 and 10 million by 1900. Most of the ethnic Poles in the Russian Empire lived in the Congress Kingdom, although some areas outside it contained a Polish majority; the Kingdom of Poland re-emerged as a result of the efforts of Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, a Pole who aimed to resurrect the Polish state in alliance with Russia.
The Kingdom of Poland was one of the few contemporary constitutional monarchies in Europe, with the Emperor of Russia serving as the Polish King. His title as chief of Poland in Russian, was Tsar, similar to usage in
Invasion of Poland
The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign or the 1939 Defensive War, in Germany as the Poland Campaign, was an invasion of Poland by Germany that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union; the Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. German forces invaded Poland from the north and west the morning after the Gleiwitz incident. Slovak military forces advanced alongside the Germans in northern Slovakia; as the Wehrmacht advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish–German border to more established defense lines to the east.
After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, the Germans gained an undisputed advantage. Polish forces withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected support and relief from France and the United Kingdom. While those two countries had pacts with Poland and had declared war on Germany on 3 September, in the end their aid to Poland was limited. On 17 September, the Soviet Red Army invaded Eastern Poland, the territory that fell into the Soviet "sphere of influence" according to the secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania. On 6 October, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock and Soviet forces gained full control over Poland; the success of the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, though Poland never formally surrendered.
On 8 October, after an initial period of military administration, Germany directly annexed western Poland and the former Free City of Danzig and placed the remaining block of territory under the administration of the newly established General Government. The Soviet Union incorporated its newly acquired areas into its constituent Belarusian and Ukrainian republics, started a campaign of Sovietization. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance organizations formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the military exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West, an armed force loyal to the Polish government-in-exile. On 30 January 1933, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, under its leader Adolf Hitler, came to power in Germany. While the Weimar Republic had long sought to annex territories belonging to Poland, it was Hitler's own idea and not a realization of Weimar plans to invade and partition Poland, annex Bohemia and Austria, create satellite or puppet states economically subordinate to Germany.
As part of this long-term policy, Hitler at first pursued a policy of rapprochement with Poland, trying to improve opinion in Germany, culminating in the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934. Earlier, Hitler's foreign policy worked to weaken ties between Poland and France, attempted to manoeuvre Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming a cooperative front against the Soviet Union. Poland would be granted territory to its northeast in Ukraine and Belarus if it agreed to wage war against the Soviet Union, but the concessions the Poles were expected to make meant that their homeland would become dependent on Germany, functioning as little more than a client state; the Poles feared that their independence would be threatened altogether. How can they demand the rights of independent states?"The population of the Free City of Danzig was in favour of annexation by Germany, as were many of the ethnic German inhabitants of the Polish territory that separated the German exclave of East Prussia from the rest of the Reich.
The so-called Polish Corridor constituted land long disputed by Poland and Germany, inhabited by a Polish majority. The Corridor had become a part of Poland after the Treaty of Versailles. Many Germans wanted the urban port city of Danzig and its environs to be reincorporated into Germany. Danzig city had a German majority, had been separated from Germany after Versailles and made into the nominally independent Free City. Hitler sought to use this as casus belli, a reason for war, reverse the post-1918 territorial losses, on many occasions had appealed to German nationalism, promising to "liberate" the German minority still in the Corridor, as well as Danzig; the invasion was referred to by Germany as the 1939 Defensive War since Hitler proclaimed that Poland had attacked Germany and that "Germans in Poland are persecuted with a bloody terror and are driven from their homes. The series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier."Poland participated with Germany in the partition of Czechoslovakia that followed the Munich Agreement, although they were not part of the agreement.
It coerced Czechoslovakia to surrender the region of Český Těšín by issuing an ultimatum to that effect
Navahrudak is a city in the Grodno Region of Belarus. In the 14th century it was an episcopal, it is a possible first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with Trakai noted as a possibility. It was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire and Poland until the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 when the Soviet Union annexed the area to the Byelorussian SSR, it was first mentioned in the Sophian First Chronicle and Fourth Novgorod Chronicle in 1044 in relation to a war of Yaroslav I the Wise against Lithuanian tribes. In 1241 it was destroyed by the Mongols, it was mentioned in the Hypatian Codex under the year of 1252 as Novogorodok the town was a major settlement in the remote western lands of the Krivichs that came under the control of the Kievan Rus at the end of the 10th century. Hypothesis is disputed, as there are earliest archaeological findings from 11th century only. In the 13th century, the fragile unity of the Kievan Rus disintegrated due to nomadic incursions from Asia, which reached a climax with the Mongol Horde's Siege of Kiev, resulting in Kiev's sacking, leaving a geopolitical vacuum in the region to be known under the conventional name Black Ruthenia.
The Early East Slavs splintered along preexisting tribal lines into a number of independent and competing principalities. Mindaugas of Lithuania made use of the plight to annex Navahrudak, which became part of Kingdom of Lithuania Grand Duchy of Lithuania. During the 16th century, Maciej Stryjkowski was the first who, in his chronicle, proposed theory, that Navahrudak became the capital of the 13th century state; this statement is supported by several other scholars, while others dispute this notion because contemporary chronicles of the 13th century do not give any reference about Navahrudak as capital stating that city was transferred to the king of Galicia–Volhynia. Vaišvilkas, the son and successor of Mindaugas, took monastic vows in Lavrashev Monastery near Novgorodok and founded an Orthodox convent there. Navahrudak was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Union of Lublin in 1569. In 1795 it was incorporated into Grodno Governorate of Imperial Russia due to the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
It was transferred to Minsk Governorate in 1843. The town was a center of thriving Jewish community, its 1900 population was 5,015. In the course of the First World War the town was under the German occupation from 22 September 1915 to 27 December 1918. During the ensuing Polish-Bolshevik war it was occupied by the Polish Army in 18 April 1919 and the Red Army in 19 July 1920 and the Polish one in 1 October 1920, it was ceded to the Second Polish Republic in the Peace of Riga signed on 18 March 1921 by the Soviet Russia and Poland, thus ending the hostilities. In the interwar period, Nowogródek served as capital of the Nowogródek province, until the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Soviet troops entered the city in 18 September 1939 and it was annexed into the Soviet Union via the Byelorussian SSR; the Polish inhabitants were exiled to Siberia and the Soviet Union, as prisoners. In the administrative division of the new territories, the city was the centre of the Navahrudak Voblast.
Afterwards the administrative centre moved to Baranavichy and name of voblast was renamed as Baranavichy Voblast, the city became the centre of the Navahrudak Raion. On 22 June 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the USSR and Navahrudak was occupied on 4 July, following one of the more tragic events when the Red Army was surrounded in what's known as the Novogrudok Cauldron. See Operation Barbarossa: Phase 1. During the German occupation it became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland territory. Partisan resistance began; the Bielski partisans made of Jewish volunteers operated in the region. On 1 August 1943, Nazi troops shot down the Martyrs of Nowogródek; the Red Army reoccupied the city exactly three years after its German occupation on 8 July 1944. During the war more than 45,000 people were killed in the city and in the surrounding area, over 60% of housing was destroyed. Navahrudak was shtetl, it was home to the Novardok yeshiva, led by Rabbi Yosef Yozel Horwitz, as well as the hometown of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein and of the Harkavy Jewish family, including Yiddish lexicograph Alexander Harkavy.
Before the war, the population was 20,000. During a series of "actions" in 1941, the Germans killed all but 550 of the 10,000 Jews; those not killed were sent into slave labor. After the war, the area remained part of the Byelorussian SSR, USSR, a rapid rebuilding process restored most of the destroyed infrastructure. On 8 July 1954, following the disestablishment of the Baranavichy Voblast, the raion, along with Navahrudak became part of the Hrodna Voblast, in which it remains to this day, in modern Belarus. Navahrudak Castle, sometimes anachronistically called Mindaugas' Castle, was built in the 14th century and is in ruins since being burnt down by the Swedes in 1706; the Orthodox SS. Boris and Gleb Church, Belarusian Gothic, started in 1519, but not completed until the 1630s; the Roman Catholic Transfiguration Church (1712–23, includes surviving chapels of an older gothic
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta