Volgograd

Volgograd

[vol-guh-grad, vohl-; Russ. vuhl-guh-graht]
Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, city (1989 pop. 999,000), capital of Volgograd region, SE European Russia, a port on the Volga River and the eastern terminus of the Volga-Don Canal. As a transshipment point, the port handles oil, coal, ore, lumber, and fish. Volgograd is also a major rail center, with connections to Moscow, the Donets Basin, the Caucasus, and SW Siberia. A large hydroelectric dam stands on the Volga just above the city. A center of heavy industry, Volgograd has shipyards, oil refineries, steel and aluminum mills, and tank, tractor, cable, machinery, and chemical factories. Other industries include food processing, flour milling, distilling, sawmilling, tanning, and the manufacture of farm and oil-field equipment.

Founded in 1589 as a stronghold to defend Russia's newly acquired land along the Volga, the city was originally called Tsaritsyn. It fell to the Cossack rebels under Stenka Razin in 1670 and Yemelyan Pugachev in 1774. In the 19th cent. it became an important commercial center. During the Russian civil war the city was defended (1918) by Soviet forces under Stalin, Voroshilov, and Budenny, but White troops under Denikin took it in 1919-20. The city was renamed Stalingrad in 1925, then Volgograd in 1961, following Nikita Khrushchev's denunciations of Stalin's dictatorship.

During World War II, the city was nearly destroyed in a battle that marked a major turning point in the war and a landmark in military history. In Sept., 1942, a German army exceeding 500,000 men (including Italians, Hungarians, and Romanians) and commanded by Gen. Friedrich von Paulus began an all-out attack on Stalingrad, which was defended by 16 Soviet divisions under Gen. Vasily I. Chuikov. Stalin ordered that the city be held at all costs. After two months of house-to-house fighting, the Germans had taken most of the city; but the Soviet garrison, receiving supplies across the Volga, held out, thus giving Gen. Georgi Zhukov time to prepare a counteroffensive.

Hitler reaffirmed his intention to take Stalingrad, despite great losses and lack of reserves. He refused, against his general staff's advice, to allow Paulus to withdraw. In Nov., 1942, two Soviet forces, advancing from the north and south in a pincers movement, encircled the Germans. In December a German relief force was routed. Paulus surrendered the remnants of his army on Feb. 2, 1943. The combined German and Soviet losses during the battle were staggering—the Germans alone suffered approximately 300,000 casualties. The Soviets followed up with a westward drive and generally remained on the offensive for the remainder of the war. Rebuilding began immediately after the city's liberation.

See A. Beevor, Stalingrad (1998).

formerly (until 1925) Tsaritsyn (1925–61) Stalingrad

City (pop., 2006 est.: 999,122), southwestern Russia. Located on the Volga River, it was founded as the fortress of Tsaritsyn in 1589. During the Russian Civil War (1918–20), Joseph Stalin organized the city's defense against the White Russian armies, and it was later renamed in his honour. During World War II it was reduced to rubble in the Battle of Stalingrad; it was rebuilt in the postwar era. Its manufactures include steel and aluminum, engineering products, timber goods, building materials, and foodstuffs. A major railroad junction and river port, it is the eastern terminus of the Volga-Don Ship Canal.

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Volgograd formerly called Tsaritsyn (1598–1925) and Stalingrad (1925–1961) is a city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is 80 kilometres long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River.

History

Volgograd originated with the foundation in 1589 of the fortress of Tsaritsyn at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and Volga Rivers. The fortress, which took its name from the local name Sary Su (Yellow Water/River in the Tatar language), was established to defend the unstable southern border of Tsarist Russia and became the nucleus of a trading settlement. It was captured twice by Cossack rebels, under Stenka Razin in the rebellion of 1670 and Yemelyan Pugachev in 1774. Tsaritsyn became an important river port and commercial centre in the 19th century.

The city was the scene of heavy fighting during the Russian Civil War. Bolshevik forces occupied it during 1918, but were attacked by White forces under Anton Ivanovich Denikin. During the battle for Tsaritsyn the Bolsheviks were pushed back and surrounded at first, and only the actions of Joseph Stalin, then local chairman of the military committee, saved the city for the Bolsheviks. Stalin did so by recalling Zhloba's 'Steel Division' from the Caucasus which attacked the White Forces in the rear. In honor of Stalin's efforts in defending the city, it was renamed Stalingrad (literally: "Stalin city") in 1925. The name change is typical of the way towns and cities were re-named after Bolshevik leaders and heroes during Soviet times. (See also List of places named after Stalin.)

Under Stalin, the city became heavily industrialized and was developed as a centre of heavy industry and trans-shipment by rail and river. During World War II (Great Patriotic War), the city of Stalingrad became the center of the Battle of Stalingrad as well as the pivotal turning point in the war against Germany. The battle lasted from August 21, 1942 to February 2, 1943. 1.7 million to 2 million Axis and Soviet soldiers were either killed, wounded or captured, as well as over 40,000 civilians killed. The city was reduced to rubble during the fierce fighting, but reconstruction began soon after the Germans were expelled from the city.

For the heroism shown during the battle, Stalingrad was awarded the title Hero City in 1945, and King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the citizens of Stalingrad a jeweled sword in appreciation of the bravery that they had shown. A memorial complex commemorating the battle, dominated by an immense allegorical sculpture of Mother Russia, was erected on the Mamayev Kurgan, a hill that saw some of the most intense fighting during the battle. A number of cities around the world (especially ones that had suffered particularly badly during the war) established sister/friendship/twinning links (see list below). It was part of the world's first such link when it formed a twinning relationship with the English city of Coventry during World War II (as both suffered heavy bombing).

The Panorama museum, which is located alongside the Volga river, contains artifacts from World War II. These include a panoramic painting of the battlefield from the location of the monument "Mamayev Kurgan." Here a rifle of the famous sniper Vasily Zaytsev, can also be found.

In 1961, the city's name was changed to Volgograd ("Volga City") as part of Nikita Khrushchev's programme of de-Stalinization. This was and remains somewhat contentious, given the fame of the name Stalingrad, and there were once serious proposals to change the name back during Konstantin Chernenko's brief administration in 1985. There is still a strong degree of local support for a reversion and proposals have been made from time to time, though as yet none have been accepted by the Russian government.

Economy

Modern Volgograd is still an important industrial city. Its industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, steel and aluminium production, manufacture of machinery and vehicles, and chemical production. A large Volgograd Hydroelectric Plant stands a short distance to the north of Volgograd.

Transport

Volgograd is a major railway junction with links to Moscow, the Donbas region of Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Siberia. It stands at the east end of the Volga-Don Canal, opened in 1952 to link the two great rivers of Southern Russia.

European route E40, the longest European route connecting Calais, France with Ridder, Kazakhstan, passes through Volgograd.

Volgograd's public transport system includes a light rail service known as the Volgograd metrotram.

Education

Educational institutions include Volgograd State University, Volgograd State Technical University (former Volgograd Polytechnical University), Volgograd State Medical University, Volgograd State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Volgograd Academy of Industry, and Volgograd State Pedagogical University.

Sister cities

As of 2008, Volgograd had 20 sister cities:

A number of communities in France have streets or avenues named after Stalingrad, hence Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad in Paris and the eponymous Paris Métro station of Stalingrad.

External links

References

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