The most famous building before the 1942 battle of Stalingrad was the city’s Department Store (think Kircaldie & Stains). It was a showcase for The Soviets new economic model. As you can see the building was pretty flash.
Today we spent a bit of time in the basement of the old Univermag Dept Store located on what’s now Fallen Soldiers Square , reflecting how this was the very place where the German’s 6th Army surrendered to the Russians and in essence set the end of World War 2 in place. After destroying the city, it became their graveyard – Hitler having ordered them to dig in and hold it. The Red Army regrouped and buried the intruder amongst the ruins it had caused, just as they had done with Napoleon. After 1 million deaths the surrender took place right here in the room we’re now standing in, in the basement of the store where we now stand. It’s a dingy site, still left in the same state it was way back then. But – just as we felt when visiting Churchill’s basement war rooms in London – that just makes you feel more connected.
10 years on from when we were last here, Volgograd continues to thrive and is looking just great – not too swamped by the glass towers of modern day conspicuous wealth that the Caspian Sea oil fiefdoms to the south has spawned and very much a statement about where Russia is today – coming along, people pretty happy, and the lifestyles definitely on the improve. Nice to be back.