Today commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad between 1942-1943. Over 200 days and nights, over 2 million lives were lost as the German advance into Russia was blocked at Stalingrad – now known as Volgograd. As the Russian winter set in, fresh Soviet forces surrounded the German army and forced them into an embarrassing surrender.
In Volgograd on Thursday, a re-enactment of the capture of German officials who lead the advance will take place, with huge ceremonies planned for Saturday to mark the official surrender; where a Russian and German symphony orchestra – with 100 musicians and 150 members in the choir – will perform Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' and a piece that was written specifically for the anniversary. All veterans in Volgograd will be offered gifts and will be made to feel worshipped – as without them, many Russians feel that the Soviet Union would not be in existence today. To commemorate the fallen for this anniversary, 17000 names were added to the Stalingrad monument – which is placed on a hill that saw some of the bloodiest fighting during the Battle. Still to this day, the remains of the fallen soldiers are still discovered in the fields surrounding Volgograd by volunteers who to this day believe nobody and no-one should be forgotten.
Elsewhere in Russia, over 50 cities will be celebrating the anniversary, with several cities also commemorating the event by adorning Stalin's picture on a handful of public buses.
In 2012, it was registered that 949 veterans from the Battle of Stalingrad still live in Volgograd; and over 3 million veterans from the Second World War still alive across the nation – with over 500 of them centenarians.
Real Russia would like to pass on our congratulations to those celebrating the event, our remembrance to those who fell and also thoughts for our office located next to Volgograd.