Volgograd is a city located in the eastern part of Russia. The city is more famously known as Stalingrad because it was home to one of the greatest and most intense battles of the World War II. The city was almost completely destroyed and reduced after the war ended. It was rebuilt from scratch in the years following the war. Today Volgograd serves as an important industrial city, and its rich history can be found in the various war memorials, monuments and museums in the city.
Volgograd is located on the western bank of the Volga River in south eastern Russia. It’s part of the Volgograd Oblast(district).
The city has an approximate area of 565km2 and is about 90km in length, making it the longest city in Russia.
Because of the heroism and bravery of the soldiers who fought in the city during the battle of Stalingrad, it is also sometimes called the Hero-City.
The city was formed in 1589 as a military fortress and was named Tsaritsyn at the time. It soon became an important trading settlement and military outpost.
For the next few centuries the city suffered several rebellions and enemy raids. At the start of the 20th century the city underwent rapid industrialization.
During the Russian Civil War(1917-1922), the White Army(Pro-Communists) and the Red Army (Anti-Communists) fought for the city’s control because of its industrial wealth.
The Red Army eventually defeated the Whites and took control of the city. The city was renamed to Stalingrad in 1925 in honor of Joseph Stalin who played an important part in defeating the White Armies in the civil war.
In August 1942 during World War II, The Germans invaded Russia and attacked the city in what became known as the Battle of Stalingrad. The battle lasted for more than 5 months. It is remembered for being one of the greatest battles in history and also the turning point of the World War II which eventually led to allied nations winning the war.
During the battle, the saw city saw intense and bloody fighting in its streets and buildings. Strategic points across the city were captured and recaptured several times by Russians and Germans. The city’s railway station changed hands 13 times.
At one time the Nazis took control of over 90% of the city. Eventually the Red Army launched its counteroffensive after receiving reinforcements and encircled the German 6th Army division which was in control of the city. The Germans eventually surrendered after their commander Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus was captured by the Russian Army in February 1943.
The battle is regarded as the most bloodiest in history. More than 2 million lost their lives including German and Russian soldiers and civilians as well.
More than 1 million bombs were dropped on the city during the war. The battle reduced most of the city to debris and rubble. At the end of the war the city’s population was reduced from half a million to only 35000.
After the war, the city was completely rebuilt. Most of the city’s older buildings were destroyed and much of the present architecture in the city is post World War II era.
In 1961, Nikita Khrushchev(Soviet Premier at the time) renamed the city to its present name, Volgograd. He did it as part of his de-Stalinization reforms to remove Stalin’s ideology from Russian politics.
Volgograd has a population of over 1 million people. The city’s economy is mainly driven by its industrial sector. Industries in the city include ship building, oil refining, aluminium, steel production and automobile manufacturing.
Volgograd has a slightly cold weather. The city’s average annual temperature is about 8.3 °C. The warmest month is July when the temperature is an approximate 24.3°C , while the coldest month is January when temperature drops to an average low of about -7.5°C.
Average rainfall in the city is about 380mm per year and average snow received is 27.1 inches per year. Snowy season starts from October and ends in April.
Volgograd has a lot of memorials and monuments including an 86m tall statue named “The Motherhood Calls”. The statue is built over Mamayev Kurgan, a hill that was one of the main battle grounds during the Battle of Stalingrad.
The statue was built to commemorate the Stalingrad Battle and Russian Victory. 35000 soldiers are buried in the monument’s grounds including the famous Russian sniper Vasily Zaitsev who killed 225 enemy soldiers during World War II.
Some buildings survived the destruction partially or completely and are now considered part of the city’s heritage.
The city also has a number of museums that have stories about the Battle of Stalingrad and other remnants from the battle, paintings and also a lot of stuff from the Russian Civil War.
Another memorial, Rossoshka Memorial Cemetery holds the graves of more than 80000 soldiers. 60000 Germans, 20000 Russian and 2000 Romanian soldiers who died in the Battle of Stalingrad are buried in this cemetery.