Russia marks 75 years since Nazi surrender at Stalingrad
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to Motherland during ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, Feb. 2. The five months of fighting in Stalingrad between August 1942 and February 1943 is regarded as the bloodiest war battle in history. The death toll for soldiers and civilians was about 2 million. Most of the city was reduced to rubble before Nazi forces surrendered on Feb. 2, 1943. | Maxim Shemetov / Pool Photo via AP

Russians marked the 75th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory at the Battle of Stalingrad on Friday, attending a military parade and laying wreaths to honor the soldiers who died defending the city.

Seventy-five tanks, one for each year that has passed since the Nazi surrender on Feb. 2, 1943, rolled through Volgograd, as Stalingrad was renamed in 1961, while 50 aircraft and 1,500 soldiers also took part in the commemoration.

Stalingrad has been called the bloodiest battle in history, with more than a million deaths in over five months of brutal close-quarters fighting.

The German defeat foiled Hitler’s plan to cut off Soviet access to the oilfields of the Caucasus, cost the Wehrmacht hundreds of thousands of troops, and is seen as World War II’s key turning point, marking the beginning of the end for the Nazis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected wreaths in Volgograd yesterday and the Defense Ministry released a number of formerly classified military documents.

They included a handwritten note from General Konstantin Rokossovsky reporting the capture of the German commander Friedrich Paulus on Jan. 31, 1943 and the order granting Hero of the Soviet Union status to Yakov Pavlov, whose platoon’s defense of a single building since known as “Pavlov’s house” for over two months became legendary. Soviet general Vasily Chuikov later remarked that the assault on Pavlov’s house had cost the German army more soldiers than the conquest of France.

In an address to mark the anniversary, Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov praised the “unparalleled” sacrifices of the city’s residents.

As the greatest-ever victory for Soviet arms and proof of the “effectiveness of a planned socialist system,” the truth about Stalingrad had always caused “tooth-grinding” among anti-communists, he pointed out, with false accounts seeking to portray the Soviet and German forces as equally savage. He pointed to testimony from Field Marshal Paulus on the efforts of Red Army doctors to save the lives of German prisoners after the battle.

Zyuganov also raised the demand that Volgograd be renamed Stalingrad permanently. As with the use of Leningrad in St. Petersburg, the name is already officially adopted by the city on certain important anniversaries.

“We cannot allow the winning country to cover up the sacred feats of its people, while other countries demonstrate much better memory,” Zyuganov said, pointing out that even Paris has a Metro station called Stalingrad.

Morning Star.


Ben Chacko
Ben Chacko

Ben Chacko is Editor of Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.