(Volgograd, Russia) The battle for Stalingrad is often described as the single bloodiest battle of the Great Patriotic War. The city of Stalingrad, now named Volgograd, stood in the way of Hitler’s desire to capture Russia’s vast oil reserves to the East and it was at the Battle for Stalingrad that the Nazi war machine stalled, helping to turn the tide of the war.
Honouring the heroes of the past is important in Russia and on Friday President Vladimir Putin hosted a reception in Moscow’s Grand Kremlin Palace marking the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany troops in the Battle of Stalingrad.
President Putin’s guests included Great Patriotic War veterans and participants in the Battle of Stalingrad, heroes of the Soviet Union, heads of veteran associations and members of the government. Mr. Putin congratulated the veterans and read aloud Soviet era combat bulletins detailing the courage of Stalingrad defenders.
On Saturday President Putin traveled to Volgograd where he was greeted by city officials at his arrival for commemoration of the Battle for Stalingrad. Mr. Putin visited the State Historical and Memorial Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad on Mamayev Hill, where, accompanied by veterans, he laid a wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Hall of Military Glory.
The Volgograd city council has voted to change the name of the city back to Stalingrad temporarily during special military events such as each annual Battle of Stalingrad and 9 May for the official victory celebrations.
The Battle for Stalingrad took place during the winter of 1942 to 1943, beginning in September with the advance of the German Sixth Army commanded by General Friedrich Paulus who was assisted by the Fourth Panzer Army.
A parade featured soldiers dressed in World War II-era uniforms and led by an old T-34 tank as they marched through Volgograd Saturday in remembrance of the battle in which at least 1.2 million people died.
In his remarks to veterans at a gala concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, President Putin congratulated the veterans and said that the victory of the Soviet troops at Stalingrad is one of the greatest examples of heroism in history and that the event will forever remain a symbol of national unity for all Russians.
Rounding out our coverage of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad we present the honour parade in it’s entirety, courtesy of Russia Today television: