With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

In Volgograd, It’s Stalin Who Lurks on the Sideline

The woman with the sword rises like an avenging angel over the skyline, so tall you can see her even from far below in Volgograd Arena. This is Mother Russia, and buried at her feet lie the remains of tens of thousands of casualties of the Battle of Stalingrad, the conflict that will forever define this city.

Joseph Stalin himself vanished from the city in 1961, when his name was erased from Soviet history books and, with the stroke of a pen, Stalingrad became Volgograd. But he lives in its soul.

He also lives in the visitors’ center just down the hill, next to the parking lot.

Here he is in the Stalingrad Hotel, his portrait in the cafe, beside a TV on which Portugal is playing Morocco in the World Cup. Here he is in the gift shop, his face plastered on the souvenirs: Stalin flasks, Stalin playing cards, Stalin wall clocks, Stalin key chains, Stalin lighters, Stalin T-shirts, Stalin mugs and Stalin commemorative plates. (Vladimir V. Putin, the current Russian president, is available, too; his plate is next to Stalin’s.)

Read entire article at NYT