A Brief History of Stalingrad

Kazan Cathedral

Volgograd formerly Tsaritsyn , 1589–1925, and Stalingrad, 1925–1961, is an important industrial city and the administrative centre of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It lies on the western bank of the Volga River. The Battle of Stalingrad in World War II was one of the largest and bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Known as the hero city locally, it is home to The Motherland Calls, an 85 meter statue dedicated to the heroes of the battle. The city also has many tourist attractions, such as museums, sandy beaches, and a self-propelled floating church. Population: 1,021,215 (2010 Census); 1,011,417 (2002 Census); 1,022,578 (1989 Census).

The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10, 1925.  This was officially to recognize the city and Stalin’s role in its defense against the Whites between 1918 and 1920.[17] In 1931, the German settlement-colony Old Sarepta (founded in 1765) became a district of Stalingrad. Renamed Krasnoarmeysky Rayon (or “Red Army District”), it became the largest area of the city.

General Pyotr Wrangel in Tsaritsyn, 15 October 1919
General Pyotr Wrangel in Tsaritsyn, 15 October 1919

The first institute was opened in 1930. A year later, the Stalingrad Industrial Pedagogical Institute, now Volgograd State Pedagogical University, was opened.
Under Stalin, the city became a center of heavy industry and transshipment by rail and river. During World War II, German and Axis forces attacked the city, and in 1942 it became the site of one of the pivotal battles of the war. The Battle of Stalingrad had perhaps the greatest casualty figures of any single battle in the history of warfare (estimates are between 1,250,000 and 1,798,619

Center of Stalingrad after liberation in 1942
Center of Stalingrad after liberation in 1942

The battle became a titanic struggle between Hitler and Stalin as both saw it of great propaganda value, each keenly aware of the namesake of the city, and each poured hundreds of thousands of men into the battle.

The battle began on August 23, 1942, and on the same day, the city suffered heavy aerial bombardment that reduced most of it to rubble. By September, the fighting reached the city center. The fighting was of unprecedented intensity; the city’s central railway station changed hands thirteen times, and the Mamayev Kurgan (one of the highest points of the city) was captured and recaptured eight times. By early November, the German forces controlled 90 percent of the city and had cornered the Soviets in two narrow pockets, but they were unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance before Soviet forces launched a huge counter attack on November 19. This led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and other Axis units. On January 31, 1943 the Sixth Army’s commander, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, surrendered, and by February 2, with the elimination of straggling German troops, the Battle of Stalingrad was over. In 1945 the Soviet Union awarded Stalingrad the title Hero City for its resistance. Great Britain’s King George VI awarded the citizens of Stalingrad the jeweled “Sword of Stalingrad” in recognition of their bravery. Starting in 1943, Stalingrad already started to getting recovered after the battle. Dozens of buildings were quickly recovered, Cherksaov Women Movement was born in the response of lacking male engineers and builders. One of the first buildings recovered was Pavlov’s House. By the end of 1945, 290 000 square meters of living areas were recovered. After 1946 the city started to recover even more quickly.

A number of cities around the world (especially those that had suffered similar wartime devastation) established sister, friendship and twinning links (see list below) in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of the first “sister city” projects was that established during World War II between Stalingrad and Coventry in the United Kingdom – both suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment.

 

Kazan Cathedral
Kazan Cathedral
City tram on Gogolya Street in 1914
City tram on Gogolya Street in 1914

You might also be interested in these 14 coloroized photos of the Battle of Stalingrad.

(Via Wikipedia)

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