by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Volgograd is Stalingrad for the day

Today is the first day of the six specific dates when the city of Volgograd will be referred as its wartime name Stalingrad.  On Wednesday the council of Volgograd passed such a resolution.

It was on this day, seventy years back on 02 February 1943, the Nazi German VI Army surrendered to the Soviet Red Army.  For almost 6 months, the city of Stalingrad was under siege by the Nazi German forces and initially all hope was lost.

Stalingrad and its siege assumes importance as it was the first time the armed forces of the Master Race was defeated in the battlefield.  Winston Churchill described it, “the hinge of fate had turned …”!  Stalingrad in fact, was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.

The battle for Stalingrad stands as the greatest military bloodbath in human history.  More than a million (some estimates say more than 2 million) men and women died because of Stalingrad -
  • because an idiotic, despotic Nazi thought that Stalingrad can and should be taken;
  • and because an equally idiotic, despotic Comrade thought that Stalingrad should not fall.
Just think about the death count -

Country / Army Number killed / wounded
Red Army (estimates) 750,000
German Army 400,000
Italian soldiers 130,000
Hungarian soldiers 120,000
Romanian soldiers 200,000
Civilians of Stalingrad
(estimate only)

Almost 30 years after the siege of Stalingrad, William Craig (1929-1997) wrote a great non-fiction book Enemy at the Gates:  The Battle for Stalingrad.  Reading that account even in 1990 was a churning experience - the extraordinary men and women who fought, lived and died during that battle; the brutality, sadism, cowardice, stupidity, jealousy, callousness of the people involved in that tragedy.

Seventy years after that cruel battle, that book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad still merits a worthy read.  If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and grab a copy from your neighbourhood old books store. 

In 2001 a movie (with the same name) was made partly based on a duel mentioned in the book that developed between Soviet sniper Vasily Zaitsev and German Major Erwin König. (  The movie is quiet riveting, even though much of the brutality is brushed under as not central to the plot.

Whether you read the book or the movie over the weekend, you can always wonder at the goofy attempt by the Russians to call the city Stalingrad only on 6 specific days.

If they feel proud of the name, they should keep it permanently.  If they are ashamed of the name, why feel shameful for 6 days a year?

Meantime we can always watch another idiotic, despotic ruler of Russia commemorate the event later today.


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