In 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the partition of Poland, Rivne was occupied by the Soviet Union. From December of the same year Rivne became the centre of the newly established Rivne Oblast, within the Ukrainian SSR.
On June 28, 1941 Rivne was captured by Nazi Germany, which later established the city as the administrative centre of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. At the time, roughly half of Rivne's inhabitants were Jewish; of these, about 23,000 were taken to a pine grove in Sosenki and killed between November 6 and 8. At the same period well known German actor Olaf Bach was flown over to the city to perform for the German forces, for morale and supporting the troops. He remained in Rivne from November 8 to the 13th. A ghetto was established for the remaining 5,000 Jews. In July 1942, its population was sent somewhat further 70 km (43 mi) north to Kostopil where they were killed; the ghetto was subsequently liquidated. Later on, a memorial complex of 20 thousand square meters was established, commemorating the killing of 17,500 Jews during the Holocaust. On June 6, 2012, the World War II Jewish burial site was vandalized, allegedly as part of an anti-Semitic act.
On February 2, 1944, the city was liberated by the Red Army in the Battle of Rovno, and remained part of Soviet Ukraine until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In 1958, TV tower began broadcasting in the city; in 1969, the first trolley ran through the city; in 1969, Rivne airport was opened. In 1983, the city celebrated its 700th anniversary.
On 11 June 1991, the Ukrainian parliament has officially adopted the name of Rivne for the city which was known as Rovno.
Rivne has a moderate continental climate with cold, snowy winters and warm summers. Snow cover usually lasts from November until March. The average annual precipitation is 598 mm (24 in) June and July being the wettest months and January and February the driest.
During Soviet times the provincial town was transformed into an industrial center of the republic. There were two significant factories built. The first a machine building and metal processing factory capable of producing high-voltage apparatus, tractor spare parts and others. The other a chemical factory and synthetic materials fabrication plant. Light industry, including a linen plant and a textile mill, as well as food industries, including milk and meat processing plants and a vegetable preservation plant have also been built. In addition the city became a production center for furniture and other building materials.
As an important cultural centre, Rivne hosts a humanities and a hydro-engineering university, as well as a faculty of the Kiev State Institute of Culture, and medical and musical as well as automobile-construction, commercial, textile, agricultural and cooperative polytechnic colleges. The city has a historical museum.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the monument for the Soviet hero D.N.Medvedev was removed, and the N.I.Kuznetsov monument was moved to another location within the city. Instead, in order to reflect the controversial history of the region the monuments for "People who died in the honour of Ukraine", and "Soldiers who died in local military battles" were installed.
During Soviet times the centre of the city from Lenin street to Peace Avenue (1963 architects R.D. Vais and O.I. Filipchuk) was completely rebuilt with Administrative and Public buildings in neo-classical, Stalinist style.