QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About The Soviet Union?

A man holds up a Soviet flag to commemorate the Bolshevik revolution.
Roman PimenovTASS via Getty Images
Roman PimenovTASS via Getty Images

For 69 years, the Soviet Union ruled much of Eastern Europe. Over 15 republics made up this massive communist country. The Soviet Union influenced many events of the twentieth century from World War II through the Cold War.

How much do you know about the Soviet Union? Do you know about glasnost, the USSR’s capital, or how the Cuban Missile Crisis began? Test your knowledge of one of the largest countries in the world with this Soviet Union quiz.

Who was the first Soviet leader?

The Allies leaders are framed and pictured on the wall.
Retry Correct Incorrect Vladimir Lenin was the first communist leader of the USSR. When Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne, a temporary Duma government took his place. Vladimir led the Bolshevik Party and took over the temporary government.
Mikhail TereshchenkoTASS via Getty Images
Mikhail TereshchenkoTASS via Getty Images

Who was the first Soviet leader?

  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Leonid Brezhnev
  • Joseph Stalin
0%

When did the USSR officially form?

A girl holds a flag of the Soviet Union at the Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park in Berlin.
Retry Correct Incorrect In 1922, Soviet Russia signed a treaty with the Ukraine, Transcaucasia, and Belarus. This officially formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At its height, the USSR would have 15 socialist countries.
DAVID GANNON/AFP via Getty Images
DAVID GANNON/AFP via Getty Images

When did the USSR officially form?

  • 1917
  • 1922
  • 1930
  • 1920
5%

In 1957, the Soviets launched the world’s first satellite. What was it called?

A full-scale replica of a Soviet satellite is on display in a Russian museum.
Retry Correct Incorrect Sputnik 1 was the first-ever artificial satellite. Soviet physicists began working on it in 1954, code-naming it “Object D.” Although it’s famous now, few people outside of the USSR noticed Sputnik’s launch.
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images

In 1957, the Soviets launched the world’s first satellite. What was it called?

  • Kosmos 1
  • Sputnik 1
  • Explorer 1
  • Vanguard 1
10%

What was the purpose of the first Five-Year Plan?

A propaganda poster about the five-year plan is from Soviet Russia.
Retry Correct Incorrect In 1928, Joseph Stalin implemented the first Five-Year Plan to change Russia from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. The plan only spanned four years, which did not offer enough time for the economic changes.
Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What was the purpose of the first Five-Year Plan?

  • To convert all American films to Russia films
  • To reduce militarization
  • To change Russia’s economy from agricultural to industrial
  • To remove all traces of capitalism
15%

For years, the Soviet government denied what happened between 1932 and 1933. What was it?

Planes fly behind a Lenin sculpture.
Retry Correct Incorrect In 1932, a large famine swept through the USSR. Because of the lack of record-keeping, nobody knows how many people died. Experts estimate around ten million. The Soviet government kept it a secret for years until Western journalists reported it.
Leonid Faerberg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Leonid Faerberg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

For years, the Soviet government denied what happened between 1932 and 1933. What was it?

  • The Great Famine
  • The Red Terror
  • The Great Purge
  • Stalinization
20%

How did the Cuban Missile Crisis start?

An American patrol plane flies over a ship during the Cuban missile Crisis.
Retry Correct Incorrect After discovering American missiles in Italy and Turkey, Nikita Khrushchev decided to place missiles in Cuba. The missiles were supposed to prevent future invasion, but America sent a naval blockade to Cuba. It became the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Getty Images
Getty Images

How did the Cuban Missile Crisis start?

  • American forces invaded Cuba
  • Cuba allied with America during the Cold War
  • The Soviet Union tried to steal American missiles
  • The Soviets placed nuclear missiles on Cuba
25%

What was the Soviet Union’s capital city?

A boat sails under a bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Retry Correct Incorrect Moscow was the capital city of the USSR. It also had the highest population of any Soviet city, housing over nine million residents in 1989. Today, Moscow is the capital of Russia.
Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images
Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images

What was the Soviet Union’s capital city?

  • St. Petersburg
  • Prague
  • Moscow
  • Leningrad
30%

What were satellite states?

Memorials from the Soviet Union are lined up on a table.
Retry Correct Incorrect A satellite state was an independent nation under heavy military, economic, and political influence from the USSR. Soviet satellite states included Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. Each had a communist government that relied on the Soviet Union.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What were satellite states?

  • Nations that were not officially part of the USSR, but under its influence
  • Nations that left the USSR
  • Nations that helped the USSR but did not join it
  • Nations that joined the USSR
35%

What did glasnost do?

A Soviet political cartoon satirizes glasnost.
Retry Correct Incorrect In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev adopted glasnost as his slogan, meaning “openness and transparency.” Unlike other Soviet leaders, Gorbachev encouraged more criticism, media coverage, and public discussions about government policies and agendas.
Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What did glasnost do?

  • It restructured the entire political system
  • It banned protests in public spaces
  • It encouraged the government to be more open and transparent
  • It aimed to end the Cold War as soon as possible
40%

During World War II, what was the Soviet Union’s army called?

Soviet soldiers stand next to a tank in World War II.
Retry Correct Incorrect After the 1917 October Revolution, Lenin established the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. Shortened to the Red Army, this army and air force later joined with the navy to fight in World War II.
Mark Redkin/Slava Katamidze Collection/Getty Images
Mark Redkin/Slava Katamidze Collection/Getty Images

During World War II, what was the Soviet Union’s army called?

  • The Gulags
  • The Holodomor
  • The Bolsheviks
  • The Red Army
45%

What were the Bolshevik secret police called?

A man holds up a Soviet flag to commemorate the Bolshevik revolution.
Retry Correct Incorrect The Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police, enforced the political regime during the Red Terror. They carried out mass executions against people who supported Czar Nicholas II. They ran labor camps, food requisitions, and arrests.
Roman PimenovTASS via Getty Images
Roman PimenovTASS via Getty Images

What were the Bolshevik secret police called?

  • Gulags
  • The White Terror
  • The Cheka
  • The Red Terror
50%

Which Soviet leader enacted De-Stalinization?

Joseph Stalin addresses voters at a podium.
Retry Correct Incorrect Nikita Khrushchev was once a loyal Stalinist. But in 1956, he gave a long speech about how he disapproved of the Stalinist regime. He then tried to reverse many of Stalin’s policies, such as increasing agriculture, releasing political prisoners, and reducing the secret police.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Which Soviet leader enacted De-Stalinization?

  • Georgy Malenkov
  • Leonid Brezhnev
  • Nikita Khrushchev
  • Yuri Andropov
55%

Who was the first Soviet astronaut to enter space?

A monument to the first ever astronaut stands in Kazakhstan.
Retry Correct Incorrect Along with launching the first satellite, the Soviets also sent the first person into space. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin completed one orbit around the earth in Vostok 1. He became a celebrity in the USSR, receiving the country’s highest honor, the Hero of the Soviet Union award.
Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images
Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images

Who was the first Soviet astronaut to enter space?

  • Gherman Titov
  • Pavel Popovich
  • Yuri Gagarin
  • Andriyan Nikolayev
60%

Between 1928 and 1940, how did agriculture change in Soviet Russia?

A tractor drives across a Russian farm.
Retry Correct Incorrect Stalin changed the agricultural system to “kolkhoz,” a system of collective farms. Farmers switched from independent land to working on large, government-owned plots. Officials believed that collectivization would increase productivity; it didn’t.
Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Between 1928 and 1940, how did agriculture change in Soviet Russia?

  • Farmers had to work on military bases
  • Farmers worked on collective land
  • Farmers didn’t have to work for the military
  • Farms were transformed into factories
65%

How did the Bolsheviks approach religion?

A Russian cathedral stands tall.
Retry Correct Incorrect The Bolsheviks confiscated many churches and monasteries for their own uses. During the civil war, the leader of the Russian Orthodox church chose not to pick a side. The Bolsheviks portrayed them as supporting the White Army, which gave them a reason to remove religious rights.
Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images
Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images

How did the Bolsheviks approach religion?

  • They established more churches and funded them
  • They confiscated Russian Orthodox churches
  • They bribed church leaders to support their views
  • They teamed up with the church during the October Revolution
70%

By the time World War II began, the USSR had already made peace with which of these?

Soviet and American soldiers shake hands.
Retry Correct Incorrect In August 1939, the USSR signed a “non-aggression” pact with Nazi Germany. The next month, Germany invaded Poland to kick-start World War II. However, Germany broke this pact when they invaded Russia in 1941.
Allan Jackson/Getty Images
Allan Jackson/Getty Images

By the time World War II began, the USSR had already made peace with which of these?

  • Germany.
  • China.
  • Japan.
  • Britain.
75%

During his reign, Joseph Stalin implemented forced labor camps. What were they called?

A poster of Joseph Stalin shows him with his hand raised.
Retry Correct Incorrect A gulag was a system of labor camps that incarcerated 18 million years in around 30 years. The word is shorthand for Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, which means “Main Camp Administration.” Prisoners died from execution, starvation, or exhaustion from 14-hour workdays.
Fotosearch/Getty Images
Fotosearch/Getty Images

During his reign, Joseph Stalin implemented forced labor camps. What were they called?

  • Leningrad
  • Gulag
  • Gagarin
  • Perestroika
80%

What was the highest governing body in the USSR?

Soviet government officials gather.
Retry Correct Incorrect The highest legislative body in the USSR was the Supreme Soviet. This group elected the Presidium, the Soviet’s head of state. They also passed constitutional amendments and appointed leaders of government bodies like the Supreme Court.
Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What was the highest governing body in the USSR?

  • The Kulaks
  • The Iron Curtain
  • The New Union
  • The Supreme Soviet
85%

After World War II, the Soviet Union sealed itself off from all non-Soviet nations with the

Russians celebrate their history during a parade in Moscow.
Retry Correct Incorrect After World War II, the USSR created an ideological barrier called the Iron Curtain. Its purpose was to seal off the Soviet countries from non-communist nations, called “The West” back then.
PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

After World War II, the Soviet Union sealed itself off from all non-Soviet nations with the

  • Spiritual Gate
  • Iron Curtain
  • Great Barrier
  • Berlin Wall
90%

What is Prague Spring?

An aerial shows the city Prague.
Retry Correct Incorrect In 1968, Czechoslovakia leader Alexander Dubček allowed more freedom of expression, which he called Prague Spring. In response, many people protested the nation’s communist regime. USSR forces quickly intervened and ended Prague Spring.
Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images Images
Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

What is Prague Spring?

  • The dissolution of Czechoslovakia
  • A period of liberalization for Soviet Czechoslovakia
  • Ukraine’s dissolution from the USSR
  • A Soviet reform of Russia’s education system
95%

Congrats, you finished! Here are your results:

Congrats, you finished! Here are your results:

Retry You may need to hit the books. Your knowledge of the Soviet Union is lacking. Hit the history books, and try this quiz again. Your Soviet knowledge could be better. You know quite a bit about the Soviet Union, but not enough to call yourself an expert. Did you live in the USSR? You know a lot about the Soviet Union…did you live there, by chance? You must be an old Soviet leader. You know so much about the USSR that it’s uncanny. You must be a Soviet leader. That’s the only explanation.
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