Volgograd is largest city as well as capital of Volgograd
Oblast. It is found on the banks of Volga River and its name in Russian
means "Volga City". However Volgograd is most famous under its former name
of Stalingrad. During World War II Battle of Stalingrad became the turning
point of defeat of Nazi Germany.
Tsaritsyn Although the city may have originated in 1555,
documented evidence of Tsaritsyn at the confluence of the Tsaritsa
and Volga rivers dates only from 1589. Grigori Zasekin established
the fortress Sary Su (the local Tatar-language name means "yellow
water" or "yellow river") as part of the defences of the unstable
southern border of the Tsardom of Russia. The structure stood
slightly above the mouth of the Tsaritsa River on the right bank. It
soon became the nucleus of a trading settlement.
In 1607 the
fortress garrison rebelled against the troops of Tsar Vasili Shuisky
for six months. In 1608 the city acquired its first stone church,
St. John the Baptist. At the beginning of the 17th century, the
garrison consisted of 350 to 400 people.
In 1670 troops of
Stepan Razin captured the fortress; they left after a month. In 1708
the insurgent Cossack Kondraty Bulavin (died July 1708) held the
fortress. In 1717 in the Kuban pogrom, raiders from the Kuban under
the command of the Crimean Tatar Bakhti Gerai [ru] blockaded the
town and enslaved thousands in the area. In August 1774 Yemelyan
Pugachev unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city.
Moscow established a customs-post at Tsaritsyn. In 1708 Tsaritsyn
was assigned to the Kazan Governorate; in 1719 to the Astrakhan
Governorate. According to the census in 1720, the city had a
population of 408 people. In 1773 the city became a provincial and
district town. From 1779 it belonged to the Saratov Viceroyalty. In
1780 the city came under the newly-established Saratov Governorate.
In the 19th century Tsaritsyn became an important river-port and
commercial center. The population expanded rapidly, increasing from
fewer than 3,000 people in 1807 to about 84,000 in 1900. The first
railway reached the town in 1862. The first theatre opened in 1872,
the first cinema in 1907. In 1913 Tsaritsyn got its first tram-line,
and the city's first electric lights were installed in the city
During the Russian Civil War of 1917–1923, Tsaritsyn
came under Soviet control from November 1917. In 1918 White troops
under the Ataman of the Don Cossack Host, Pyotr Krasnov, besieged
Tsaritsyn. The Reds repulsed three assaults by the Whites. However,
in June 1919 the White Armed Forces of South Russia under the
command of General Denikin captured Tsaritsyn, which they held until
January 1920. The fighting from July 1918 to January 1920 became
known as the Battle for Tsaritsyn.
Battle of Stalingrad
The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10,
1925. This was officially to recognize the city and Stalin's role in
its defense against the Whites between 1918 and 1920. In 1931, the
German settlement-colony Old Sarepta (founded in 1765) became a
district of Stalingrad. Renamed Krasnoarmeysky Rayon (or "Red Army
District"), it became the largest area of the city.
institute was opened in 1930. A year later, the Stalingrad
Industrial Pedagogical Institute, now Volgograd State Pedagogical
University, was opened.
Under Stalin, the city became a
center of heavy industry and transshipment by rail and river. During
World War II, German and Axis forces attacked the city, and in 1942
it became the site of one of the pivotal battles of the war. The
Battle of Stalingrad had perhaps the greatest casualty figures of
any single battle in the history of warfare (estimates are between
1,250,000 and 1,798,619). The battle became a titanic struggle
between Hitler and Stalin as both saw it of great propaganda value,
each keenly aware of the namesake of the city, and each poured
hundreds of thousands of men into the battle.
began on August 23, 1942, and on the same day, the city suffered
heavy aerial bombardment that reduced most of it to rubble. By
September, the fighting reached the city center. The fighting was of
unprecedented intensity; the city's central railway station changed
hands thirteen times, and the Mamayev Kurgan (one of the highest
points of the city) was captured and recaptured eight times. By
early November, the German forces controlled 90 percent of the city
and had cornered the Soviets in two narrow pockets, but they were
unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance before
Soviet forces launched a huge counterattack on November 19. This led
to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and other Axis units.
On January 31, 1943 the Sixth Army's commander, Field Marshal
Friedrich Paulus, surrendered, and by February 2, with the
elimination of straggling German troops, the Battle of Stalingrad
was over. In 1945 the Soviet Union awarded Stalingrad the title Hero
City for its resistance. Great Britain's King George VI awarded the
citizens of Stalingrad the jeweled "Sword of Stalingrad" in
recognition of their bravery.
A number of cities around the
world (especially those that had suffered similar wartime
devastation) established sister, friendship and twinning links (see
list below) in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of
the first "sister city" projects was that established during World
War II between Stalingrad and Coventry in the United Kingdom – both
suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment.
Volgograd On 10 November 1961, Nikita
Khrushchev's administration changed the name of the city to
Volgograd ("Volga City") as part of his programme of
de-Stalinization following Stalin's death, as he was trying to
reduce the "cult of personality". This action was and remains
somewhat controversial, given Stalingrad's importance as a symbol of
resistance during the war. During Konstantin Chernenko's brief
administration in 1984, proposals were floated to revive its
historic name. There remains a strong degree of local support for a
reversion but intermittent proposals have yet to be accepted by the
On May 21, 2007, the Communist Party
obtained an important success in the Volgograd mayoral election.
Communist candidate Roman Grebennikov was elected as mayor with
32.47% of the vote. Grebennikov is Russia's youngest mayor of a
federal subject administrative center.
In 2010, Russian
monarchists and leaders of the Orthodox organizations demanded that
the city should return to its original name Tsaritsyn, but the
authorities rejected their proposal.
On January 30, 2013, the
Volgograd City Council passed a measure to use the title "Hero City
Stalingrad" in city statements on nine specific dates annually. On
the following dates the title "Hero City Stalingrad" can officially
be used in celebrations: February 2 (end of the Battle of
Stalingrad), February 23 (Defender of the Fatherland Day), May
9 (Victory Day), June 22 (start of Operation Barbarossa),
August 23 (start of the Battle of Stalingrad), September 2
(Victory over Japan Day), November 19 (start of Operation
Uranus), December 9 (Day of the Fatherland's Heroes)
In addition, 50,000 people signed a petition to
Vladimir Putin, asking that the city's name be permanently changed
to Stalingrad. President Putin has replied that such a move should
be preceded by a local referendum and that the Russian authorities
will look into how to bring about such a referendum.
Terrorist attacks On August 24, 2004, the Volga-AviaExpress
Flight 1353, a Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft flying from Moscow to
Volgograd, exploded in mid-air and crashed as a result of suicide
terrorist attack. 34 passengers and 9 crew members were on board the
aircraft, all of whom died in the crash. A Siberia Airlines flight
bound for Sochi that day was also bombed, killing all 46 who were on
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on Monday 21 October 2013
Russian intelligence officers reported a bomb carried by a female
suicide bomber exploded on a passenger bus carrying 40 people while
stopped at the Lesobaza bus stop. Irina Gogolyeva, a spokesperson
from the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, reported that at
least five people died in the blast and seventeen others were
injured. On October 22, 2013, Vladimir Markin from Russia's
investigative Committee reported that the suicide bomber had been
identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova of Dagestan.
December 29, 2013, a suicide bomb attack occurred at the Volgograd
railway station, killing at least seventeen people. It is not clear
how many bombers were involved or who they were. The following day a
suicide bombing on a trolleybus killed at least fifteen people.