понедельник, 2 февраля 2009 г.

Crucial WW2 battle remembered

Probably the most decisive battle of WW2 is marking its 66th anniversary. One of the bloodiest in human history, it lasted 200 days and claimed the lives of more than a million Soviet people.

’Defend Stalingrad no matter what the cost’ was the motto. It took the Red Army almost seven months to beat the Axis Powers, who were striving to gain control over the city. The Soviet Union sacrificed more than one million lives to win the battle, which many historians see as a turning point in WW2.

Sixty six years on the horrors that the city went through are still fresh in the memory of war hero Aleksey Voloshin, who's now 89.

“I remember crawling in ruins and looking for a hole to hide in from the bombings. There was nowhere to hide. When the bombs come down on you, you feel almost ready to cling to the paving with your chest for dear life,” Aleksey recalls.

Thousands of bombs dropped by the Nazis on the city left those on the ground little chance to survive. The life expectancy of a Stalingrad defender was often less than twenty four hours. The battle was fierce for every street, every house, and every square foot. The Nazis bitterly joked saying “We've conquered the kitchen, but we're still fighting for the bedroom.”

The bravery of Soviet Soldiers has provided plots for many films, books and even computer games.

Slava, whose grandfather was also a war veteran, says he wants his nine-year-old son Misha to learn about the events, and believes an educational computer game, which simulates the battle for Stalingrad, could be a good start.

“I want my son to know the history of his country. If he’s more interested in computer games than in schoolbooks, let it be through the games,” he explains.

In July 1942, when the battle started, Stalin gave an order: Not One Step Back, meaning any attempt to escape the battle would be seen as treachery. Aleksey Voloshin says that out of his regiment of 2,000 men, only 14 survived.

And there were those who ran.

“I remember once when Germans attacked, I looked backed and saw some soldiers leaving. I was shouting: how can you leave us here? But, you know, most of the soldiers I knew were ready to stand to the last. We just realized we had nowhere to go but fight,” says Aleksey.

The Battle for Stalingrad was far from the end of the war, there were more battles to come, but Aleskey Voloshin says it was after Stalingrad that he felt they would eventually beat the Nazis.

Source:Russia Today

3 комментария:

Chernevog комментирует...

I find it ironic that where I am little is known about Stalingrad, or even the large role that Russia played in WWII. In popular culture, in movies, rarely is any mention of the Russian role noted, and more often than not, the Russians only show up at the end of the war, after the surrender of Germany.

Stalingrad is not merely considered the bloodiest battle of World War II, the Great Patriotic War, but the bloodiest battle in human history. Had this battle gone the other way, it is rather likely that the entire war would have as well.

lastochka комментирует...

I read in memories of one russian Metropolitan who had described his voyage to Stalingrad 3 years later after the battle, he cupped his hands and scooped up a little ground, he was ready to flip it, when he suddenly saw that there were very small fragments of people bones,grinded practically into dust...
Russian soldiers were heroic but only mention about their victories could break the stereotype about drunk, cruel russians...It was very usefull to associate us all with personality of Stalin and communistic ideology.
Who knows now, for example, that it was russian intelligence officers who saved from total destruction mined Krakov, Bratislava, Prague and Belgrade?

Chernevog комментирует...

Since most of my grandmothers family lived in and around Bratislava, there were some people who were well aware of the Russian role in preventing the cities of what is now considered central Europe from being completely destroyed as the Nazi's planned during there withdrawal from those places.

I find that this attitude goes far deeper and is much more complex. I dont quite understand it when it comes from very educated individuals. Not merely very well educated people, but people who I grew up with, sat in the same classes with. And somehow I came out of the same education with a totally different way of seeing the world and other people in it than they did.

Most of these people have formed this opinions without ever having had any conversation at length with a Russian who either lived in Russia during the war, or lives there now. They have formed a bias against a people they have never had any sort of contact with in any way whatsoever. In fact most of them have really not had much contact with people from other nations, who have the same feelings about their own nation and cultures that they do about their own.

That this is possible is something that is beyond their ability to imagine.

I suppose I just answered my own question. It is simply lack of imagination on their parts.