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Russian history: 1st week of February

Saturday 1, February 2014, 12:05 am Red

The first week of February begins with the end of one of the longest sieges in WWII. Speaking of wars, also in February, the only war in history without battles came to an end. But apart from wars, other events happened in the first week of February: a Russian scientist achieved major advances in radio broadcasting, new theories of geometry were created and new Soviet space missions were successful. Also, we will talk about the day the Moscow metro was set in motion and about the opening day of one of the largest museums in the world.

Battle of Stalingrad 

On February 2, 1943 the Nazi siege in the city of Stalingrad comes to an end. This episode is considered essential to explain the German defeat in their attempt to conquer the Soviet Union. After this failure, the Nazi forces did not achieve any more significant victories on the Eastern Front. 

During the siege of Stalingrad, many important events took place. Like the surrender of Field Marshal Paulus to the Soviet forces. Hitler sentenced him to death for surrendering to the Soviets. Finally, the execution was never carried out, because Paulus did not return to Germany until 1954, when he was released by the government of the USSR, nine years after Hitler’s death. 

On the Soviet side, we can mention the story of Vasily Zaytsev, a sniper that killed 242 German soldiers. It is said that he once spent four days motionless waiting for another German sniper to give away his position. When Zaytsev finally eliminated the Nazi soldier, he took the scope of the German’s rifle and kept it. This object can be seen today at the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. Year later, this story became a Hollywood blockbuster

Soldiers in Stalingrad

The end of the Cold War 

It happened in 1992, on February 1. After 46 years of tension, a Russian-American joint declaration signed at Camp David, puts an end to the Cold War. This was a conflict without battles that began on March 5, 1946. The term “Cold War” is attributed to a journalist and an American economist. But it seems that the first person that used it, was the writer George Orwell (author of "1984" or "Animal Farm") in a 1945 essay on the nuclear bomb. 

The Moscow Metro 

We set aside wars and start talking about more peaceful events. On February 4, 1935 the first test train on the Moscow Metro begins to circulate. The first metro line would open in May of that year. The Moscow Metro is the second in the world by number of passengers, only behind Tokyo, and the third by kilometers of track with 305 km, only behind New York and London. It has 185 stations, 44 of which have been recognized as cultural heritage.

moscow metro
Moscow metro

Opening day of the Hermitage 

February 5, 1852: the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg opens to the public. This is one of the largest art galleries in the world. At first, this museum was intended for upper-class visitors, since the building, the Winter Palace, was also the private residence of the Tsars. It was Tsar Alexander I who ordered a new entrance to the museum so that it could be open to the public. Years before, in France, he purchased the private collection from Empress Josephine (Napoleon's first wife) to expand the museum’s collection. Today the Heritage keeps more than three million pieces, of which about 17.000 are pictures. The museum became a property of the state in 1917.

The first S.O.S from the sea 

Russian scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov achieves to make a radio broadcast for the first time in history on 6 February 1900, of an SOS signal from a ship. Popov is also the inventor of the antenna, essential piece in long-distance broadcasting. 

Many experts consider Popov as the inventor of the radio, as he started experimenting with waves long before Marconi or Hertz. But officially, and according the decision of the US Supreme Court in the 1940s, Austro-Hungarian Nicola Tesla was declared as the inventor of the radio. 

The Luna 9 Mission 

The Soviet spacecraft Luna 9 lands on the Moon in the Ocean of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum) on February 3, 1966. This was the first object to make a controlled landing outside Earth and also the first spacecraft to arrive to its target with all systems fully operational. Luna 9 also sent the first panoramic photograph of the Moon’s surface and helped to rule out the theory that said that the Moon’s dust was so thin that it would prevent the landing of any ship. Its sensors remained active for three days. 

luna 9
Spaceship Luna 9

Hyperbolic geometry 

February 7, 1832: Russian mathematician Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky published the first work on non-Euclidean geometry. His geometry, far from the Euclid’s fifth postulate is called hyperbolic geometry. Because of his theories, which put an end to 22 centuries Euclid’s postulates, he began to be known as the “Copernicus of geometry”.

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