Stalingrad. It is a name with special resonance in the history of the 20th Century. Today they call it Volgograd, but to many people it will always be Stalingrad. Not because they have any love for the Soviet dictator, but because of the titanic WWII battle that bears the city's name.
Americans learn about Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima. In Britain, they learn about Dunkirk and Normandy. But these battles do not hold the same weight of relevance for Russians as does the Battle of Stalingrad. During the bitter winter of 1942, the streets and buildings of this city became a place for a vicious, pitiless struggle with appalling cruelty on both sides.
“One of our weekend excursions was to the city of Volgograd - the site of Battle of Stalingrad. To remind future generations of what the city looked like after the war, the Russians left one of the bombed-out factories standing near the town's center. While the shell of the old factory is itself a testament to the destruction of the city, we were incredulous to learn that the factory was one of the least-destroyed buildings in the city. Seeing the pictures of the total destruction of Volgograd after the war and hearing stories about the million people who died in this one battle alone, we began to understand why World War II still plays such a prominent role in the Russian psyche.” (Erica Lally ’08)