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Questions and answers:

Jack asks: The damage to Stalingrad as estimated in 1943 was 9 million rubles, what is the US dollar equivalent of that in 1943 and now in 2024?
Expert's answer:
A small correction, the material damage caused to Stalingrud was estimated at 9 billion Soviet rubles. In 1936, the exchange rate of the Soviet ruble was pegged first to the French franc and then to the US dollar (to the gold backing of these currencies) and amounted to 5 Soviet rubles per 1 USD. Thus, the damage was about 1.8 billion USD in 1943 (about 32.6 billion USD in 2024). Of course this is a rough estimate.
Francisco asks: What is the present value of a silver ruble in 1846? I have this question because I want to understand what Dostoevsky was thinking when he wrote one of his articles. If you know the value of the ruble in USD in 1846 that would be enough, thanks a lot!
Expert's answer:

Here are several examples of prices in 1848-1850s in order to assess the purchasing power of a silver ruble. It is also worth noting that the value of a silver ruble was higher than a paper ruble (banknote), 1 silver ruble - about 3-4 rubles in banknotes.

  • The price a fur coat made of black-brown fox - 1000 rubles,
  • A sable fur coat - 2000 rubles,
  • A village hut - 100 rubles,
  • One peasant in the Yaroslavl Governorate - 24 rubles,
  • Straw - 1 silver ruble for one cart,
  • Sugar - 0.24 silver rubles per 1 pound (0.41 kg),
  • Vodka - 1.13 silver rubles per 3 liters,
  • Beef - 5.30 rubles in banknotes for 16.4 kg,
  • Eggs - 1 silver ruble for 100 eggs.

You can compare this with today's prices to give a rough estimate of the value of the silver ruble of that time.

Clare asks: What is the history of the emblem of Belgorod and what does it symbolize?
Expert's answer:
The current emblem of Belgorod repeats the historical emblem of this city, approved on July 21, 1893 on the basis of the banner emblem of 1712 of the Belgorod infantry regiment, which showed valor in the Battle of Poltava (1709), the main battle of the Northern War between the Russian army under the command of Peter I and the Swedish army under the command of Charles XII. The soaring eagle symbolizes Russia, and it soars above the fleeing lion, the symbol of Sweden. Quite an interesting story and a cool emblem that would look great on a T-shirt or as a custom enamel pin. You can Learn More at BPS.
Foot asks: How much would 500 rubles be in 1850 present day?
Expert's answer:
I have checked the prices of some basic foodstuffs in 1850 (plus or minus several years), such as potatoes, buckwheat, meat, flour, and workers' wages. Based on this, compared with today's prices and wages, 500 rubles in 1850 roughly equals about 1 million rubles (13,000 USD) in 2023.
Rena asks: In 1940, my Polish husband's family were exiled to a labour camp near Syktyvkar. Do you know details about this camp and its location?
Expert's answer:
There were a lot of different labor camps in this region, check the following article with a lot of details about the Poles exiled to the Komi Republic, the article is auto-translated from Russian - The Pages of Polish tragedy.
Chris asks: In 1911, my Russian grandfather wrote "Gouvner, Russia" as his place of birth on his US Naturalization record, but I can't find any information about this being a real place. Everything else he wrote seems accurate and verifiable. Any chance you've heard of or can find this town? Thank you!
Expert's answer:
It is difficult to find anything without the Russian spelling of this place. If you have a photo of any original document where this place is mentioned in Russian, that might help me find it. Send it here
Bepa asks: I found a deposit slip from 1909 for the sum of 5000 rubles. What would be the equivalent of that amount in 2021 rubles and USD? I would like to have an idea if that was a lot of money or just average. Thank you.
Expert's answer:
Here are some examples of prices for various goods in the Russian Empire in 1909: coffee (1 kg) - 2 rubles, cheese - 1-2 rubles, meat - 0.8 rubles, boots - 5 rubles, a cow - 50-60 rubles, a riding horse - 70-150 rubles, a piano - 100-200 rubles, a Ford car - 2,000 rubles. The average salary was about 33-45 rubles per month. So the sum of 5,000 rubles was quite large.
Mia asks: I would like to know what you could have bought with 10,000 rubles in Russia in 1866?
Expert's answer:
Here are some examples of the prices of that time: an international passport - 1 ruble, sugar - 0.3 rubles per kg, a house in Moscow - 12,000 rubles, renting a room in a tavern - 0.2 rubles per day, a bottle of wine in a merchant's club - 5 rubles, the salary of a clerk at a railway station - 25.5 rubles per month.
Gelb asks: Was Ulan-Ude involved in World War 2?
Expert's answer:

After Germany attacked the USSR on June 22, 1941, six enterprises of Ulan-Ude (locomotive repair, glass, aviation factories, meat processing plant, etc.) were switched to military production. Ulan-Ude locomotive repair plant was engaged in repairing locomotives, freight and passenger cars, built new locomotives, produced ammunition. Ulan-Ude meat processing plant also produced up to 50 different medical products.

9 evacuation hospitals were located in Ulan-Ude. Kharkiv Russian Drama Theater was evacuated to this city. At the end of 1941, the 97th Rifle Division under the command of A. A. Schennikov was formed in Ulan-Ude. In 1942, it was sent to the Western Front, where it became part of the 16th Army.

Reino Paananen asks: I am an American of mixed English and Finnish heritage. My grandmother Wilhelminna Kauppinen and grandfather Johan Paananen emigrated to America at the turn of the 20th Century from Finland which was then a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. I was told that Karelia was part of Finland but later ceded to Russia in the Winter War of 1944. Is this a true fact?
Expert's answer:
Part of Karelia along with several other territories were ceded by the USSR as a result of this war. Here is the map of Finnish areas ceded in 1940.
Lars asks: What day will the reenactment of the battle Borodino take place?
Expert's answer:
The reenactment of the Borodino Battle will take place on September 7, 2012 - the day of the 200th anniversary of the battle.
yomama asks: When was the flag made?
Expert's answer:
I have found the following article about the history of the Russian flag.
Mark asks: We adopted two children from Stavropol in 2008. We have been showing them photos and items from Stavropol. We want to explain to them the images on the coat of arms, but we cannot find any explanation for them. Can you explain the images on the coat of arms? Thank You
Expert's answer:
I have found the following article about the history of the coat of arms of Stavropol. You can use this service to translate the page.
rob asks: How old is the Kremlin?
Expert's answer:
Most of the Moscow Kremlin that we can see today was constructed in the second half of the 15th century.
Valentins Ranetkins asks: How much structural damage was done to Pskov during the Soviet bombardment of 1943. Was the bombardement ordered by Stalin to destroy the Nazi forces or as punishment to Pskov people?
Expert's answer:
The bombardment was carried out on June 22, 1943 as a "gift" to the Germans on the anniversary of their attack on the USSR on June 22, 1941. The destruction in the city was minimal. Pskov was severely damaged because of the bombardments in 1944, the year when the city was liberated.
Dave Hall asks: I have been listening to a piece of music called "The assault on Beautiful Gorky" by Shostakovich. Was Gorky ever attacked by the Germans in World War 2?
Expert's answer:

As it turned out this is a very interesting question! After a little investigation, I have found out that this music piece is part of the soundtrack from the movie "The Unforgettable Year of 1919" (1952, Shostakovich was the composer of the movie). The movie is about the Civil War in Russia and the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg).

In the list of music tracks this piece of music is called "The Assault on the Red Hill" and sometimes it is mentioned as "The Assault on Beautiful Gorky". It is the wrong translation of the original Russian name because the word "Krasniy" was translated not as Red but as Beautiful (there are some cases when it is correct but not in this one) and the second word "Gorka" meaning "hill" was not translated and remained almost the same like "Gorky". It looks like a very interesting story with all these wrong translations.

maimu asks: I know that Tyumenskaya oblast is large, how I can get info about the people who have been sent there years ago?
Expert's answer:
I think you can try to contact the non-government organization Memorial that helps people to find their relatives lost during wars, repressions.

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