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Kuniworth

My trip to Volgograd/Stalingrad

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I went there on may 9th, anyone else been there and want to share impressions of the city?

here is my travel report B)

GETTING TO VOLGOGRAD

Let me start with saying that this was one awesome trip. It's rather expensive going to Volgograd if you stop by in Moscow for a few days which I did. But it was definately worth it. One thing I don't like about Russia is the strictness for tourists and visitors, you'll have to get a lot of papers and receipts to get into the country. And when you get in hold on to receipts from hotels otherwise you can't prove you visited certain locations stated in your VISA and it's a lot of trouble.

But getting there was easy. Aeroflot got nice new airbus aircrafts which will m ake it a pleasant flight.

THE CITY

Volgograd is a nice city with approximately 1,000,000 people living there and russians are a really nice and friendly people. And they are getting richer so people drive modern cars and dress nice like any other european country. They got McDonalds there but no KFC yet ;)

In Volgograd not so many people speak english as in other european countries but a lot of young people to do so it's changing rapidly. If you go there I suggest you hire an interpretor or get in contact with someone living there to help you around. Because you will need a car to get around to see some distant locations and have someone talk to police if they'll ask what you are doing there ;)

I never felt unsafe in the city but the biggest trouble is the police. According to my friend they are corrupted so you'll have to pay them some rubles if you bump into them and they notice you are a foreigner.

The terrain is filled with sloping hills at the west of the city. You will land at the airport which is at the old german airbase of Gumrak and then travel by car to your hotel. You got a lot of slopes and ridges you will see on the ride from the airport, and the city itself is sloping down to the Volga riverbanks as you will see in the picture of the docks below.

Prices are fair by western standards but not as cheap as one can imagine beeing half the way to Asia.

The hotel was average, I lived at Hotel Volgograd at the fallen heroes square which is said to be the best.

Ok I think I will let the pictures do the writing:

This is a memorial on the avenue of heroes not far from the fallen fighters square which swesterners refere to as the "red square". The flame is always burning.

There are hundreds of memorials of the battle all over the city, and everywhere you go you can see them.

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This is common, young pupils out marching and saluting the war-memorials of the battle. It's some kind of duty every student have to do on these certain days like may 9th.

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The avenue of heroes runs from the central station through the square all the way down to the docks at the Volga. As you walk you will see a lot of memorials, this is one. It is some of the names of those awarded the title of "hero of the soviet union" during the battle.

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Univermag department store is a famous location located on the avenue of heroes. It was the spot of fierce fighting and also the headquarter of von Paulus and where he was captured on january 31st 1943. The department store is sill running today, you can enter it and the walk down to the basement which have been preserved to show what the german hq looked like. This is one of the rooms, now used for ww2 lectures:

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This is the rebuilt central railway station. It's not looking as the one during the war but roughly the same size.

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The docks at the end of the avenue of heroes. Right behind me is the Volga river. It was up here the russian forces rushed to halt the germans on the crest from capturing the river bank. If you watch the movie "enemy at the gates" this is the slope they rush in the opening sceen.

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In Volgograd they have an absolutely excellent museum of the battle. It's among the best I've ever seen and if you come here go and see it. They have for example a complete miniature of what the city looked like during the war, it's pretty amazing.

And also there are some really great historical peices like Vasily Zaitsevs mosin-nagant sniper rifle. Or like this one: the sword of Stalingrad, a gift from King George the VI and the british people to the citizens of Stalingrad. It was handed to Stalin from Churchill at the Teheran-conference 1943.

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The saw mill. This is right behind the museum and close to Pavlov's house. It's has been left standing to give you a feel of what the houses looked like at that time.

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Pavlov's house. Or the remnants of it. The house was rebuilt and the brick left from the original was used to recostruct part of the original wll. It was in this house Pavlov and his platoon fought of the german attacks for almost two months. It's located right to the ninth january square and you will really get a feel that this building commanded the square as the history books teach us.

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The grain elevator, located in the south of the city maybe 15 minutes by car from the city center. It was here that a small garrison of navy and soldiers of the 35th guards division held out for 5 days in september 1942 against the overwhelming german forces. The grain elevator is still there and running and birds like it so they sit in droves upon the roof. It's a gigantic building of concrete and you will understand why it was so hard to capture as there is almost no way in.

On the wall behind big memorial statue outside, is a scripted declaration from the defenders stating "....for all living beeings on this earth we give our lives"

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Traktor factory. This is far off to the north. It's said to have gone bakrupt but there are lot of people working there so it is still in business. It's very large. The other famous factories the barrikady and and the red october metal works can also be seen. Of the Barrikady gunfactory only ruins remain today, but the Red october is still in use.

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May 9th veterans with familes make their way to their seats(building in background is Univermaag department store, von Paulus HQ). The russians lost 27 million dead in world war 2(btw all the names are written in memorial books in long hall at the museum at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow) and they have not forgotten. Victory day is a huge holliday with proud russians visiting the memorials and giving flowers to the veterans. It's been 64 years and it is both tragic and nice to see all the commotion. Tragic because they can't move on and nice because the memory of the war is certainly not forgotten.

The day starts of with a big military parade at 9.30 AM on the fallen heroes square. The troops are congratulated by their commander for the victory over Nazi-Germany. There are music, artillery salutes and LOTS of bystanders. After that people are out on the streets the whole day visiting memorials.

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Mamayev Kurgan. Hill 102. This hill saw perhaps the most intese fighting of the second world war as the russians fought to the death here to avoid giving away the high ground. Still they find bones and metal pieces here just below the statue are the graves of the commander of the 62nd Army, Vasily Chuikov and the famous sniper Vasily Zaitsev among others. The big statue at the top is called "The motherland calls" and was erected in honor of the victory. It's bigger than the statue of liberty. At may 9th this place is packed with celebrating russians! as you can see and it takes forever to get to the top. The hill is very steep at the side facing the Volga(the side shown in the picture) and not steep at all on the other side.

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The tear of lakes. Just one of many memorial spots at Mamayev Kurgan.

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And finally, this is a 85-year old armenian veteran of the tank recon troops on Mamayev Kurgan. He was there during the whole battle directing from a tank where the tank formations should counterattack. You know guys when you meet a person like this its a relly humbeling experience. If you survived the hell of Stalingrad and still beeing sane, and also participated in the worst fighting of the war you are extremly capable and mentally strong. This guy was tough as nails;

"the germans were weak, when we captured them we thought they were having manicure because there hands looked so nice. Weaklings"

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some more pics:

Seargeant Pavlov's medal "hero of the soviet union"

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Vasily Zaitsev's mosin-nagant sniper-rifle.

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Memorial for the unbeliavable courage of the worker milita of the tractor factory that against all odds slowed down the german panzers advance on the factory.

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At Mamayev Kurgan, the motherland mourns the dead

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Hall of valor at Mamayev Kurgan with the eternal flame

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Great job Kuni, thanks for sharing it with us! I really enjoyed your photos and captions. Its too bad the Russian government is going back to the behavior and attitude of the past but what else can we expect from a bunch of KGB die-hards?

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Great thread!

If this kind of threads are of interest I could post my impression of Volgograd too.

I am from Germany and was there last summer.

Greetings...

Please do. When I was there I met a lot of germans. I remember especially an older woman who's father never made it home from captivity. She had visited the city three times before and it was a way to mourn I guess. She showed me pictures of Goroditje(northwest of Volgograd) that her father sent her and what it looke like today.

Over 60 years had passed since his death but she still come to Volgograd. It's so tragic.

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My grandfather was flown out of the Stalingrad cauldron because he got appendicitis ...

Best regards,

Thomm

That's just what he said, he was really flown out as he was in dire need of a manicure ;).

Nice thread and pics Kuni.

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