Volgograd (Russian: Волгогра́д, IPA: [vəlɡɐˈɡrat] ( listen)), formerly called Tsaritsyn (Russian: About this sound Цари́цын (help·info); 1589–1925) and known as Stalingrad (Russian: About this sound Сталингра́д (help·info)) from 1925 to 1961, is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is 80-kilometer (50 mi) long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River. Population: 1,021,215 (2010 Census); 1,011,417 (2002 Census); 1,022,578 (1989 Census).
The city became famous for its resistance, as well as the extensive physical damage and death toll it suffered during the Battle of Stalingrad against the German Army in World War II. Since February 2013, the city’s name is to be commemorated as Stalingrad six days each year.
Although the city may have originated in 1555, documented evidence of Tsaritsyn located at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and Volga Rivers dates only from 1589. The fortress Sary Su (a local Tatar language name meaning: yellow water/river), was established to defend the unstable southern border of the country. It was located 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 tsar’s troops for six months. In 1608 the city had its first stone church, St. John the Baptist. At the beginning of the 17th century, the garrison consisted of 350-400 people.
In 1670 troops of Stepan Razin captured the fortress; they left after a month. In 1708 the insurgent Cossack Kondraty Bulavin held the fortress. In 1717, Bulavin (who died in July 1708) was sacked[clarification needed] by the Crimean Tatars and Kuban. Later, in 1774, Yemelyan Pugachev unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city.
In 1691, Tsaritsyn established customs. In 1708, Tsaritsyn was assigned to Kazan Governorate; in 1719, to Astrakhan Governorate; According to the census in 1720, the city’s population was 408 people. In 1773, the city became the provincial and district town. From 1779, it belonged to Saratov Viceroyalty. In 1780, the city was under Saratov Governorate.
In the 19th century, Tsaritsyn became an important river port and commercial center. The population expanded rapidly during the 19th century, increasing from fewer than 3,000 people in 1807 to about 84,000 in 1900. The first railroad was constructed to the town in 1862. The first theatre opened in 1872, the first cinema in 1907. In 1913, Tsaritsin’s first tram-line was built, and the city’s first electric lights were installed in the city center.
During the Russian Civil War, Tsaritsyn came under Soviet control from November 1917. In 1918, Tsaritsyn was besieged by White troops under Ataman Krasnov. Three assaults by White troops were repulsed. However, in June 1919 Tsaritsyn was captured by the White forces of General Denikin, which left the city in January 1920. This was known as the Battle for Tsaritsyn.
Stalingrad and Volgograd
The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10, 1925. This was officially to recognize the city’s 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) subsequently became the largest area of the city — Krasnoarmeysky. The first institute was opened in 1930; a year later the Pedagogical Institute was opened.
Under Stalin, the city became a center of heavy industry and transshipment by rail and river. It was attacked by Germany and Axis forces during World War II. In 1942, the city 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 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 central railway station of the city 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 into two narrow pockets, but they were unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance in time. On November 19, Soviet forces launched a huge counterattack. 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. As Stalingrad was destroyed during the war, in 1946, the construction of the modern city started. It included the memorial complex on the Mamayev Kurgan.
A number of cities around the world (especially those that had suffered similar wartime devastation) established sister/friendship/twinning links (see list below) in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of the first «sister city» projects was that established between Stalingrad and England’s Coventry during World War II (both suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment).
In 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 1985, 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 Russian government.
On May 21, 2007, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation 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.
On January 31, 2013, the Volgograd City Council passed a measure to use the name «Stalingrad» in city statements on six specific dates annually. On the following dates Volgograd’s name officially reverts to Stalingrad: February 2 (end of the Battle of Stalingrad), May 9 (Victory Day (9 May)), June 22 (start of Operation Barbarossa), August 23 (start of the Battle of Stalingrad), September 2 (Victory over Japan Day), and November 19 (start of Operation Uranus). In addition, 50,000 people signed a petition to Vladimir Putin, asking that the city’s name be permanently changed to Stalingrad.