How Much Do You Know About Russia in WWII?



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wikimedia

About This Quiz

In the United States and Britain, citizens commemorate the sacrifices of their men and women in World War II in a variety of ways. America, in particular, pays tribute to soldiers with pomp and parades … but that’s because the U.S. was so insulated from the horrors of the war. In Russia, people remember the war very differently. That’s because the USSR paid an incredible toll for its very survival. In this bloody quiz, what do you know about the Soviet Union and its struggles during the Second World War?

In the years before the European Theater exploded, Soviet leaders were anything but benign. In the name of Communism, they oppressed and murdered millions of people in Eastern Europe. Then, to make matters worse, they sided with Adolf Hitler’s lunacy as the Third Reich plundered nations far and wide. What do you know about Russia’s participation in the murderous mayhem at the start of WWII?

For the USSR, the joys of pillaging were short-lived. Because when you befriend Nazis, you know you’ve made no friends at all. Backstabbing and betrayal became the theme of 1941. Do you know exactly how the USSR’s alliances began to crumble?

As Germany wielded its blitzkrieg on the Eastern Front, Soviet troops and civilians ran for their lives. Countless millions of them were murdered, in numbers so great that the names have been lost to history. Yet the Soviets had a steely leader of their own, one who threatened to kill them if they retreated – and so they fought. 

Arm yourself for the most horrifying WWII quiz of all-time – the story of the Soviet Union’s struggle to survive. Will you escape the wrath of two tyrants? Or will you perish along with millions of your helpless comrades?

Who was the leader of the USSR in WWII?

From 1922 to 1952, Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Empire with an iron fist. He's often regarded as one of the cruelest in world history … yet his brutality may have saved his nation from obliteration.


In 1939, the USSR teamed up with Germany to invade _____.

Hitler swayed Joseph Stalin to join him in the pillaging of Europe at the start of WWII. On September 1, 1939, Nazi forces teamed up with the USSR, plowing into Poland and igniting the catastrophe of the European Theater of WWII.


In Russia, the Second World War became known as what?

The USSR opted to take part in the aggression of the early war … and came to regret that decision, as many of its people died. There, WWII is often called the Great Patriotic War.


What was the USSR's army called during WWII?

When WWII rolled around, the Soviet Union was a solidly Communist -- red -- country. The Red Army was in many ways underequipped for war, but they fought on, anyway.


True or false, was the USSR ever officially a part of the Axis Pact in WWII?

Germany and the USSR held talks regarding the latter's membership in the Axis Pact. But formally, the marriage never happened -- and in 1941, things got even weirder.


The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a non-aggression pact between the USSR and which country?

In 1939, the USSR agreed to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact non-aggression pact with Germany. The agreement conveniently freed up Hitler to attack on the Western Front without fear of attacks on Germany's eastern border.


How many Soviet soldiers died in the war?

The U.S. lost around 420,000 troops in WWII. The USSR? About 11 million. No nation suffered quite like Russia during the war.


In 1941, the Nazis burned their allegiance with the USSR and attacked. What was this operation called?

Exasperated with the Luftwaffe's inability to break Britain, Hitler turned his attention to the USSR in Operation Barbarossa, which is often called the most misguided military operation in world history. It meant that Germany was fighting on two major fronts ... and that it had made an enemy out of Russia.


True or false, were Soviet forces prepared for the German invasion in 1941?

The USSR received multiple warnings that the Germans would invade. But for the most part, Soviet troops simply weren't ready for the Nazi onslaught.


At its outset, how did Operation Barbarossa fare?

Operation Barbarossa had Hitler cackling in glee as his men tore through Soviet defenses. Within weeks, the Germans had captured large swaths of Russian territory.


Why did the Soviets lack qualified officers during the war?

In the late '30s, Stalin's cronies executed the Great Purge, in which political opponents were jailed or killed. Many qualified military officers were murdered … leaving the Red Army shorthanded in its WWII battles.


How did Stalin react to Hitler's betrayal?

The two monsters had a violent parting of ways … and Stalin wasn’t prepared for Hitler's betrayal. After Germany invaded the USSR, Stalin wept quietly in his bunker, sobbing "Adolf, my Adolf, what have you done?" Or something like that. But a few days later, Stalin reinserted his iron backbone and starting killing in earnest.


True or false, was the USSR part of the Tripartite Pact?

The Tripartite Pact created a foundation of the Axis in WWII … and the USSR wasn't in the club. It included Germany, Japan and Italy.


What was the biggest battle of all of World War II?

The Battle of Stalingrad was the biggest battle of the whole war. More than 2 million troops clashed at this battle, as Soviet troops desperately clung to the beleaguered city.


How many casualties did the Soviets suffer at the Battle of Stalingrad?

The Battle of Stalingrad is called one of the bloodiest in human history. The Soviets alone endured more than 1 million casualties during the battle, which lasted for more than five months.


At the Battle of Kursk, the Soviets committed a lot of which resource to the fight?

In the summer of 1943, the Germans and Soviets clashed at the Battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle ever. The USSR deployed more than 7,000 tanks -- and 2 million men -- to confront the Nazis.


By 1943, the USSR had already lost what percentage of its industrial might?

A rain of bombs and bullets decimated Soviet factories. By 1943, about 65% of the nation's industrial might was in ruins … and still, the Soviets fought on.


By early 1942, the Germans had taken 3 million Soviet troops prisoner. How many of them died by February of that year?

"If you're going to violate human rights, go all out." That's not a direct Hitler quote, but it might as well be. By February 1942, the Germans had killed 2 million Soviet POWs … and the war was nowhere near over.


Which was NOT part of the Grand Alliance with the USSR in WWII?

Italy was an Axis partner in the war. The Grand Alliance was a coalition that included the U.S., U.K., and USSR.


About how many Soviet civilians died in WWII?

About 26 million Soviet civilians died in WWII. That's like all of New York City, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Diego combined. Then, for good measure, throw in another Chicago. The numbers are simply unimaginable.


In August 1945, where did the USSR launch major attacks?

On August 9, 1945, the USSR invaded Manchukuo, a state under the control of the Japanese. For the Japanese, it was a horrifying development.


When Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, the Soviets lost how many tanks in just three weeks?

The Germans blew through Soviet lines at the start of Operation Barbarossa, destroying 10,000 of Russia's tanks in just three weeks. The devastation was a harbinger of things to come.


In September 1941, the Germans laid siege to Leningrad. How long did the siege last?

At Leningrad, a siege took hold and didn't let go. The encirclement lasted for nearly two and a half years, during which around 1 million civilians died, many from lack of food. Cannabalism swept through the city as desperate people tried to survive.


Some historians say that for every American soldier who died fighting the Germans, _____ Soviet troops were killed.

There's no overstating Soviet deaths in WWII. By some counts, about 80 Soviet troops died for every 1 American soldier who perished fighting Nazi aggression.


When Commander Eisenhower visited Russia after the war, what did a Soviet general tell him about civilian casualties?

Soviet General Georgy Zhukov told American leader Dwight Eisenhower -- who was shocked at the level of damage that he witnessed -- that no one would ever no how many Soviet civilians died in the war. There were simply too many to count.


During WWII, how many Soviet women were awarded the country's Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest military honor?

Women fought and died alongside men in the Great Patriotic War. That's why 89 of them were given the equivalent of the Medal of Honor for their service in combat.


Some estimates say that what percentage of Soviet homes lost a member of their nuclear family during the war?

The war touched nearly everyone in the USSR in one way or another. About 60% of nuclear families lost someone during the seemingly endless conflict.


What were "frontoviks"?

They were the men and women who died in droves. The "frontoviks" were front-line Soviet troops. And millions of them were slaughtered at the hands of the Axis.


Which country captured Berlin at the end of WWII?

After years of slaughter at the hands of the Germans, the Soviets found the ultimate revenge -- they captured Berlin. But they didn't grab Hitler in time. The Nazi figurehead committed suicide just before troops found him.


The Grand Alliance helped to beat Germany in WWII. Of the three countries in the Alliance, the USSR's troops accounted for what percentage of military casualties?

The USSR paid the ultimate price for its early alliance with Germany. By the end of the war, Soviet troops made up 95% of military casualties of the Grand Alliance that defeated Hitler.


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