Stalingrad Actueel

Monument voor vermisten Slag om Stalingrad onthuld

Het monument

Gepubliceerd op: Zaterdag 9 september 2006

MOSKOU (ANP) - Een monument voor de meer dan 100.000 Duitse soldaten die vermist raakten tijdens de Slag om Stalingrad, is zaterdag onthuld op een militaire begraafplaats bij het tegenwoordige Wolgograd. De plechtigheid werd gehouden in aanwezigheid van Russische oorlogsveteranen.

Het monument moet de talrijke nabestaanden van de Duitse strijdkrachten aan het Oostfront een persoonlijke gedenkplaats geven, meldde de Duitse Vereniging van Oorlogsgraven. Die zou als uitgangspunt voor "begrip, verzoening en uiteindelijk tot vriendschap" moeten dienen, zei een woordvoerder.

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Vasily Grigorjevitsj Zaitsev herbegraven in de Mamajev Koergan

De herbegrafenis van Zaitsev

Op 31 januari 2006 zijn de overblijfselen van de beroemde Sovjet-sluipschutter Vasily Grigorjevitsj Zaitsev herbegraven in de Mamajev Koergan, de Tataarse grafheuvel bij Volgograd, het voormalige Stalingrad. Deze wens had Zaitsev in zijn testament omschreven.

Vasily Grigorjevitsj Zaitsev werd geboren op 23 maart 1915 in Jelino, een dorpje aan de voet van het Oeral-gebergte in de provincie Tsjelsjabinsk. Op 20 september 1942 werd de 27-jarige Zaitsev ingedeeld in de Siberische 284e Jagerdivisie en stak hij de Volga over om in Stalingrad te vechten. Zaitsev werd bekend nadat hij al na tien dagen bijna 40 vijanden had neergeschoten. De oorlogscorrespondenten schreven met genoegen over zijn verbazingwekkende vermogen zijn vijand met één enkele kogel te doden. In januari 1943 werd Zaitsev door de ontploffing van een landmijn tijdelijk blind.

Zaitsev, met tussen de 149 en 400 overwinningen in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, vestigde zich na de oorlog in Kiev, waar hij directeur werd van een machinefabriek. Als dank voor zijn verdiensten in de Slag om Stalingrad kreeg hij op 22 februari 1943 de medaille 'Gouden Ster' en de titel 'Held van de Sovjet-Unie'. Op 7 mei 1980 kreeg hij de titel 'Ereburger van de Heldenstad Volgograd', zoals Stalingrad in 1961 werd genoemd. Vasily Grigorjevitsj Zaitsev stierf op 15 december 1991, op 76-jarige leeftijd, in Kiev.

Bron: Auke de Vlieger

Ghosts of Stalingrad still haunt site of epic World War II battle

Gepubliceerd op: 5 mei 2005

VOLGOGRAD, Russia (AFP) - Volgograd may have been rebuilt from scratch after 1945, but the city once called Stalingrad is still haunted by the ghosts of World War II's watershed battle which saw Nazi Germany's first crushing defeat.

"The whole city is a memorial," said Mikhail Godun, a young fireman who spends much of his free time digging up the remains of those who fell during the brutal, 200-day clash. What was arguably the mother of all World War II battles - and Soviet victories -- claimed the lives of more than one million Soviet soldiers, around 800,000 German, Romanian and Italian axis troops and around 500,000 civilians in Stalingrad and the surrounding area, according to figures from the general staff of the Russian armed forces.

Many of those who died still lie in the ground at the exact place where they were slain during combat that raged from August 1942 to February 1943. "As soon as the snow begins to melt, we start digging for soldiers' bodies," Godun says. "In February, beyond the canal, on a construction site on Korpusnaya street, we found 60 bodies of German soldiers," which were then buried in a German military cemetary on the fringes of the city, he says. Sometimes, bodies are also found by chance, during construction work. "Volgograd residents have long become used to finding dead soldiers when water pipes are being replaced in their streets," Godun says.

The city is dominated by the Mamayev Kurgan battle memorial, which is set set on a man-made hill. It is topped by an 80-meter (262-foot) concrete and steel statue of a woman wielding a sword over her head, meant to personify the motherland. But while this and other monuments recall the battle as a horror of the past, its physical and psychological vestiges are part of the present for many local residents. "We are just crossing the frontline" that used to separate Soviet from German troops, Godun said as he stepped across a street in central Volgograd.

On the city's main square, called the Square of Men Fallen in Battle, grows a tree that survived the battle. Next to it, a shrine carries these words: "Here are buried those who died fighting the German fascist invaders." High school students in military attire parade in front of the memorial and its eternal flame, a landmark of Stalingrad - the city was renamed Volgograd in 1961 - which was elevated to the status of "Hero City" following the battle. "They are the honor guard watching over post number one, the Hero City's eternal flame," said Lidya Metyolkina, assistant principal of a local high school. "Being allowed to watch over the eternal flame is a reward granted to the city's best schools. The children like it, and it is an honor."

Bordering the central square is the Univermag, a Soviet-era department store whose basement served as headquarters for the commander in chief of German forces in the battle, Marshall Friedrich Paulus. On February 2, 1943, Paulus, who commanded Nazi Germany's Sixth army, which had been besieged in the city by Soviet troops, finally surrendered. Today, a little-advertised museum recreates the German headquarters in the Univermag's basement, next to the crockery department.

But few of Volgograd's 1.4 million inhabitants have direct recollections of the battle, as most of them moved here in the aftermath of World War II. In 1942, now 84-year-old Gamlet Dallakian was a young signals officer with the Soviet frontline general staff. "The general staff was buried 26 meters deep on the banks of the Tsaritsa river, a stone's throw from the city center, which was held by the Germans," he recalls, wearing a string of medals pinned on his breast. There, he crossed the path of a Soviet officer called Nikita Khrushchev, who would go on to become Soviet leader following Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, Dallakian says. Dallakian carried out numerous night-time missions to liaise with Soviet troops posted on the opposite bank of the Volga. During one one of them, he was wounded by a German bullet.

Today, the students who walk along the Volga's banks do not even spare a glance for the memorials marking the once deadly frontline.

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Russian Communist party leader urges rehabilitation of Stalin

Het monument

Gepubliceerd op: Zaterdag 16 april 2005

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Communist party leader urged official praise Saturday for the late Soviet leader Josef Stalin and said the city formerly called Stalingrad should be given its name back.

Amid a clamour in some quarters for the rehabilitation of the man characterized in the West as a brutal tyrant, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov said Stalin's leadership in the Soviet Union's victory against Nazi Germany deserves recognition as next month's 60th anniversary of the Nazi defeat approaches. "We should once again render honour to Stalin for his role in building socialism and saving human civilization from the Nazi plague," Zyuganov told a congress of communist parties from Russia and other former Soviet republics in Moscow. "We should energetically support calls by veterans of the front to restore Volgograd to its heroic name Stalingrad," he said in televised remarks. Zyuganov also proposed that Communists repudiate the decision made at the 20th Congress of the Communist party in 1956 to condemn Stalin, a turning-point in Soviet history when Nikita Khrushchev officially distanced the country from Stalin, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Stalin died in 1953. Ahead of next month's celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in the Second World War, there has been a growing trend in glorifying Stalin's leadership during the war. Stalin is still revered by many in Russia as a strong leader, reflecting continued nostalgia for the lost Soviet superpower status more than a decade after the fall of Soviet Union. Legislators in the western Russian city Oryol recently called on the authorities to rename streets after Stalin and restore memorials to him in recognition of his wartime achievements.

Last month, Volgograd decided to erect a monument to Stalin, the late U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to honour the 1945 Yalta conference, where the three leaders discussed Europe's post-war reorganization. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the Second World War, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.

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