These pages commemorate the successful completion of the Battle of Stalingrad, which on the 2nd of February 1943 became the pivotal point in the Second World War!
The decisive battle happened 80 years ago, on the 2nd of February 1943, but the preliminary manoeuvrers and battle went on since August of 1942.
German bombers set Stalingrad ablaze and burned it to the ground already during the first air raids on the 23rd – 24th of August 1942. This picture show the black wings, so aptly mentioned in the “Sacred War” song – the Ju-87 divebombing over Stalingrad in the northern part of the city, next to Mamaev Kurgan. (The source of the picture with additional details).
On the 13th of January 1943 the Soviet Information Bureaux informed of the following in the morning report:
In the Zavodskoy district of Stalingrad, our assault detachments reached the western outskirts of the city in one sector. Persistent fights took place on the streets, in courtyards, in every house. The enemy launched six counterattacks one after the other. Our fighters repulsed all the counterattacks of the Nazis and exterminated up to a battalion of German infantry. Trophies and prisoners were captured.
Meanwhile in the German-occupied Europe the Battle of Stalingrad sent information ripples. The change in the mood as the campaign progressed comes to view in a fragment of a Danish underground publication, presented in: The Battle of Stalingrad Seen Through the German-censored Danish Press
The sheer scale of the Battle for Stalingrad – both in the terms of people’s lives, machinery and time – is hard to comprehend. The attacks and counterattacks, blocking of the German advancement, and, finally, the surrounding of the army of Paulus.
As the final battle was looming ever closer, the unwavering resolve to hold on to the city became only stronger. This mood permeates the front-line reportage The Army of Stalingrad, written by Vasiliy Grossman and published in “The Red Start” on the 13th of January 1943. And such testimonials of the bravery and steadfastness are to be found all over Stalingrad, like in the Sculpture Garden.
There are several dynamic maps that tell the story, battle for battle. One such detailed, if lengthy map is below, showing the campaign week-for-week:
Alternatively, take a look at this shorter video that uses an authentic map of the time:
After the battle, Stalingrad lay almost in complete waste, with only a few landmarks reminding of the everyday life of people in this bustling city, like the fountain “The Dance of the Children” in the centre of Stalingrad…
The destruction, how much will have to be rebuilt from nothing is clearly seen in these two photographs. The soviet Union was rebuilding and recovering after the War for 2 decades, while still paying the USA for the Lend-Lease. While Europe, not without the help from the USA in the form of the Marshall Plan quickly recovered from the desolation…
Almost 2.7 million people on both sides perished or were wounded on both sides during the battle. This huge human toll is commemorated by Rossoschka Military Memorial Cemetery, that is located on spot where the first defensive battles took place in August of 1942. This is but a fragment of the huge human tragedy brought about by WWII, if one things that every life, cut short was a person who had his dreams and his future, who could have created something wonderful and unique for the humanity…
Today, the “Motherland Calls” memorial on top of the Mamayev Kurgan reminds us all of those who fell but made the turn in the course of the Great Patriotic War possible.
This year, Russia renamed Volgograd back to Stalingrad for the duration of the commemoration of this step towards Victory. The city is decorated with the banners with the portraits of the leaders and heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad. And in the centre of the city three memorial busts were unveiled: to the Commander-in-Chief Iosiph Vissarionovich Stalin, Marshal of the USSR Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, and Marshal of the USSR Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky.
The Battle of Stalingrad found reflection in a number of films, with the best depiction being Yury Ozerov’s 1989 “Stalingrad”, which is a part of his “The Liberation” epic series of films. Sadly, unlike the other films in the epic, “Stalingrad” does not have English subtitles.