Russian History

Six Impossible Episodes: Soldiers, Snipers and Spies

This installment of our impossible episodes series features a set of stories that are all about front-line heroism. Most of them are listener requests.

Three Nuclear Close Calls

There have been many moments in history when the world came perilously close to a full-scale nuclear war, due to false alarms or miscommunication. One such moment is the only known time that a head of state has activated their nuclear briefcase.

The Night Witches

The Night Witches were an all-female bombing regiment in the Soviet Air Force. Flying biplanes meant for dusting crops and training new recruits, they dropped 23,000 tons of bombs on German forces in WWII. Read the show notes here.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

In 1959, nine students ventured into the Ural mountains for a ski hiking trip, and never returned. While much speculation has swirled for more than half a century, no one knows for certain what caused them to abandon their camp to die in the cold.

Russia's Vladimir the Great

Vladimir I is often credited with bringing Christianity to Russia, though he actually embraced paganism first as Grand Prince of Kievan Rus. Wishing to unite Russia under one religion, Vladimir changed the spiritual path of his country forever.

Nikolai Vavilov traveled to 64 countries gathering seeds and plants and established the first seed bank. Stalin had the botanist sentenced to death, but his seed bank endured: Other scientists guarded the stores from rats, starving Russians and the Nazis.

The false Dmitriy was actually one of three imposters claiming to be the son of Ivan the Terrible. So what made his story seem more believable to the Russian populace? Join Sarah and Deblina as they examine the curious tale of the False Dmitriy.

It gets lonely at the top, and even larger-than-life monarchs like Catherine the Great needed a bit of romance now and then. Tune in and learn more about Catherine's lovers -- and if she ever found the true love she was looking for -- in this podcast.

Katie and Sarah highlight some of the details of Catherine the Great's reign, from wars and rebellions to her Enlightenment ideals and desire to further Westernize Russia, in their continuing series on the influential female ruler.

Catherine the Great remains one of the most influential female figures in European history, but how did she get her start? In the first segment of this two-part series, Sarah and Katie explore Catherine the Great's rise to power.