Stalingrad is famous as the city of the most colossal, brutal, landmark battle of the Second World War.
The museum was what you would expect – weaponry, vehicles, uniforms, gripping 360 degree panoramas of the battle as seen from Hill 101.
Chunks of devastation, including ‘The Mill’ a ruined brick building left as is as a monument (to the 147 days of house to house combat and truly shocking brutality) which left about 1,200,000 dead on both sides (another 180,000 German prisoners as the 6th Army surrendered (mostly to die later in Siberian camps).
Today, numerous statues line vital battle sites, headquarters, shifting front lines, etc across this modern, tranquil city alongside the massive Volga River, where ‘standing’ sunbathers gather on the sandy shores.
The highlight was Hill 101, where stands the massive Mother Russia statue.
Raised sword and savage outcry, short sweeping hair, long dress and big breasts – defying any enemies from the west. She stands about 70 meters in total on top of the hill that saw all over the city battlefields and hence was a place of real conflict.
But the whole walkway avenue is a park of monuments and audio recordings of dive bombers and battle sounds as you walk thru walls of recreated ‘sculptured’ ruins and ponds and an eternal flame tomb of a massive somber dome playing constant classical – tear jerking -soft wailing – with guards and wreathes and countless names.
I took a brunch of flowers bought from old ladies at the foot of the park and placed it here as the changing of the guard took place.
Meantime the weather over the space of two hours flipped between very hot, cold winds, and rain storms; the water weeping down the statue’s face as the sun shone …