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Stereotypes Crushed by #Russia2018 World Cup: Neat Senegal Fans Clean up Their Mess; Swiss Fans Urinate in Public; Russians and Brits Hug #ЧМ2018

Yesterday a shocking video of the Swiss fans urinating in public was circulated.

I like this new video much better: Senegal fans neatly clean up their mess after match is over. HIGH CLASS!

Russians and Brits hug after Russia scores 3:1 against Egypt – AND THAT’S CLASS TOO!

With much incredulity, British fans also noted how warmly they were met by Russian hosts in Volgograd, where the British team played their first match. Although, due to the negative media coverage in the UK and the scare tactics of the British political establishment, very few British fans showed up. And, I am sorry to say, there apparently were a few English fans who threatened to ‘make WWIII for Russians in Volgograd!’ (Link to source.)

And to close this post, an important moment in history to remember!

Volgograd used to be known as Stalingrad. Even schoolchildren in the UK would (hopefully) know about the Battle of Stalingrad during WWII. But what most people don’t know is that the historic grassroots drive to help the defenders of Stalingrad took place in 1942 in the city of Coventry, UK. Men and women took part in gathering money and resources and donating what they could, and even children sold their toys and clothes to help out. They gathered over 4 thousand pounds (over 200,000 pounds today). As a result, Coventry and Stalingrad became the world’s first sister-cities (Russian: goroda pobratimi), starting the global sister-city (gorod pobratim) phenomenon.

Many sister-cities would later appear all over the world. Today, Coventry and Volgograd remain sister-cities – the very first of their kind. Too bad the British so easily forget that.

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My WWII History Lesson: 75th Anniversary of Victory in Stalingrad and Why It Was So Important

THE MOTHERLAND CALLS FROM VOLGOGRAD

MOTHER RUSSIA, aka, The Motherland Calls (RussianРодина-мать зовёт!tr. Rodina-mat’ zavyot!). Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, Stalingrad (Volgograd).

**Attempts to re-write history and reverse Russian victory in WWII are intensifying. These re-writing attempts are coming from all kinds of countries, including Ukraine, Poland, Romania, the Baltics, US, Germany, etc. And even some of the young people in Russia are beginning to forget the truth. Humans are funny and their memory is short. This amnesia always results in a self-fulfilling prophecy otherwise known as ‘karma.’ This is why memory is so important. After all, ‘those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.’

So we don’t forget, and can remind others — here’s a short, but important lesson from me:

75th Anniversary of the Victory in Stalingrad

Why was Stalingrad so important, why is it studied in all military colleges around the world and why is it arguably the most famous battle ever fought?

The city formerly known as Stalingrad is now called Volgograd (which means: the City on Volga River). A major commemorative parade took place today, Feb 2, 2018, in Volgograd (Stalingrad).

On June 22, 1941, at 4am, when people slept, Hitler’s Germany and their allies attacked the USSR simultaneously on all fronts. The Great Patriotic War began. Hitler’s troops moved relentlessly and to quickly through the territories of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

They were stopped only near Moscow and Leningrad, but at a huge cost. The German advancement meanwhile continued elsewhere, as town after town and city after city fell, despite the troops’ and population’s heroic defense. In 1942 Hitler was advancing on most fronts and Germans were reporting that they could already see Volga ahead of them. If they crossed the major water artery of Russia, the Volga River, this would mean a nearly unencumbered access to the following major prize: The industrial Russian hub of the Urals. And from the Urals, they could advance to Siberia, with its oil and natural resource riches, and that would be the end of Russia and the USSR.

That’s why Stalingrad was the last and final stand. The phrase that made it into all history books was: “There is no land for us beyond Volga.” This is what officers told their troops. There is no land for us beyond this point. Germans cannot be allowed to cross Volga at any cost. It was a fight of the magnitude never before known by the world. It was the most devastating war humanity ever experienced, and the cost to both Russian/Soviet civilians and troops was obsene and staggering. The amount of self-sacrifice and heroism was out-of-this-world. There was no choice: if Germans crossed Volga, it would be the end. They had to be stopped.

The outcome of that battle and entire WWII, the Russian/Soviet victory in it saved the entire world — and that means you, You and YOU, by the way. All at the expense of MILLIONS of RUSSIAN and SOVIET LIVES!

While General Friedrich Paulus, the commander of the 6th German Army was preparing to toast the victory of Stalingrad, Russian generals were preparing their counter-attack plan. Rumor has it that Hitler was so confident in Paulus’ success that he promoted him to field marshal just before the day Paulus surrendered together with his army to the Russian Army.

More hilarious details from Wikipedia:

Paulus surrendered in Stalingrad on 31 January 1943, the same day on which he was informed of his promotion to field marshal by Adolf HitlerHitler expected Paulus to commit suicide, repeating to his staff that there was no precedent of a German field marshal ever being captured alive. While in Soviet captivity during the war, Paulus became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime and joined the Soviet-sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany. He moved to East Germany in 1953.

Might this be a lesson for new aggressors?

The unexpected by both Germany/Axis allies and US/UK Allies Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43 not only shocked the world, but it completely turned around the fates of WWII and Nazi Germany. The beginning of Hitler’s demise took place in Stalingrad. In the Great Stalingrad Cauldron, Russians surrounded and took prisoner over a hundred thousand of German troops.

But what very few people know is that the actual brilliant Soviet Stalingrad counter-attack plan was initially much grander and it included several broad fronts, down to Caucasus. If the whole plan succeeded, most German troops would have been surrounded and WWII could have ended a year or two earlier. The plan succeeded only partially, and after Stalingrad there was a number of other giant battles on the Soviet territory, plus hundreds and hundreds of smaller ones. In these battles the two titan armies clashed: one in order to conquer and enslave, and another to protect and liberate the Motherland.

The largest tank battle of WWII was the Battle of Kursk, July-August 1943, when Germans gathered all the resources they could in order to regain advantage. They failed miserably.

The Battle of Kursk, also known as the Arch of Kursk (Russian: Kurskaya Duga), had its own legendary ‘aha’ moment, when the well-oiled German war machine suddenly came to a screeching halt as thousands of state-of-the-art, awe-inspiring and menacing German tanks stopped, as if turned off by God’s invisible hand. For 20 minutes they helplessly watched as Russian tanks were quickly catching up to them in the giant battlefield, which would eventually become the Germans’ grave. This mysterious event took place in the stretch of the core central Russian steppes known as ‘the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly.’ The mystical mass sabotage of the German hardware during the Kursk Battle helped ensure another crucial victory for the USSR and another devastating defeat for Nazi Germany, from which it never recovered.

But the advancement of the German army was first stopped in Stalingrad. And with every next battle, inch by inch Russian / Soviet people liberated their land from the brown plague of the German fascism and their allies.

Stalingrad was rebuilt from the complete ruins after the war ended, and the Battle of Stalingrad memorial complex was built on Mamayev Kurgan, on the banks of Volga. It consists of a number of monuments and mass graves of those who perished defending Russia.

The main monument is the towering statue, MOTHER RUSSIA, or The Motherland Calls (RussianРодина-мать зовёт!tr. Rodina-mat’ zavyot!). She is the reminder of the truth that can never be forgotten. (See the image on top.)

Parade preview with Eng subs

75th Anniversary of the Stalingrad Victory Parade video, Volgograd

 

Devastating Tragedy of WWII: Blockade of Leningrad and How Vladimir Putin’s Family Survived It

animation den pobedy 2

Tomorrow is May 9th. HAPPY VICTORY DAY!

This post is part of the 70 YEARS OF THE GREAT VICTORY MARATHON

They say there was no family in the 250 million Soviet Union that didn’t experience a loss in the Great Patriotic War, usually referred to in the West as World War II. This is why the Great Victory celebrated on May 9th is called ‘a holiday with tears in our eyes.’

Leningrad, presently St. Petersburg, a city of unsurpassed beauty and treasures on the Neva River, was one of the hardest hit during that brutal war. It is one of the original four Hero Cities for the heroism and spirit displayed by its troops and citizens (later, more cities were given the Hero City title). The other three were Stalingrad, Moscow and Odessa. Each had a unique and devastating story to tell.

Among them, Leningrad stood out by the amount of tragedy, sacrifice and starvation inflicted on simple citizens through the inhumane blockade, which left the multi-million city without food for almost 900 days.

Odessa had a different story to tell. Due to the city’s location, its siege, perpetrated by Germany and Romania together, was punctuated with severe water shortage. Thirst, not hunger, was what killed people in southern steppes. During sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow the killers were bombs and bullets. But undeniably, the most devastating and tragic story of the entire WWII was the Siege and Blockade of Leningrad (Russian: блокада Ленинграда).

It is something Russians remember very well… even those of us who were born decades after, even those who had never been to Leningrad. It is imprinted in our collective psyche.

It is also something that unfortunately those who live in the US, Canada, EU, Poland or Germany probably could never understand. Perhaps that’s why they have such immature and cavalier attitude towards WWII, Russia’s role and sacrifice in it. Or perhaps they are simply afraid of the Russian spirit and ability to withstand such hardship for the idea. Perhaps, this is why they need to do anything they possibly can to diminish and malign the country that saved the world from fascism.

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia. I am usually very careful about quoting Wikipedia as much of its info is biased and inaccurate, to put it mildly. But this piece seems one of the few telling the truth. Link.

Wikipedia quote:

“The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade (Russian: блокада Ленинградаtransliteration: blokada Leningrada) was a prolonged military operation undertaken by the German Army Group North against Leningrad—historically and currently known as Saint Petersburg—in the Eastern Front theatre ofWorld War II. The siege started on 8 September 1941, when the last road to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, the siege was finally lifted on 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and overwhelmingly the most costly in terms of casualties.

The capture of Leningrad was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North. The strategy was motivated by Leningrad‘s political status as the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet and its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.[12] By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output.[13] It has been reported that Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had the invitations to the victory celebrations to be held in the city’s Hotel Astoria already printed.[14] Yet, although various theories have been forwarded about Nazi Germany‘s ultimate plans for Leningrad, including renaming the city Adolfsburg (as claimed by Soviet journalist Lev Bezymenski) [15] and making it the capital of the new Ingermanland province of the Reich in Generalplan Ost, it is clear that Hitler’s intention was to utterly destroy the city and its population. According to a directive sent to Army Group North on 29 September, “After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. […] Following the city’s encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population.”[16] Hitler’s ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns.”

Piskariovskoye Cemetery

I visited Leningrad – St. Petersburg several times in my life. It truly is the most beautiful and impressive historic city in the world. I took the time to go to the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery where the victims of the 872-day blockade found their final resting place. It’s a huge field filled with alleys, flowers, and rows and rows of granite stones listing the names of those buried underneath – 500,000 in total. The entire toll of the blockade was over 640,000.

The Piskariovskoye Cemetery museum has photographs, documents and diaries of those who perished. There was a girl’s diary that struck me most. The little girl named Tanya documented every day things like: “Auntie died today, my little brother died, mommy died.” Then her hand was getting less steady as more people around her passed. The final entry was, “Tanya all alone.” The girl Tanya was buried with others on that cemetery.

Immortal stories of the people’s spirit during the Leningrad Blockade

Leningrad is home to some of the most beautiful museums and architecture in the world, filled with treasured art, science and literature. When Germans advanced, workers of the museums and libraries tried to save their treasures, aided by locals and soldiers. A lot of priceless art from Leningrad museums was evacuated, some under severe shelling and German aviation bombings.

Leningrad is full of gorgeous bridges and statues. To attempt to save them from bombings, the starving, exhausted citizens would wrap the statues in anything protective they could find, often building protective shields around them. That way they saved for posterity many, many priceless works of art.

anichkov-bridge-with-love

Anichkov Bridge: one of the four Horse tamers, famous St. Petersburg statues saved from destruction in WWII

See my post for more great pics of the magnificent Leningrad treasures saved for posterity: Tsars, Oligarchs and Imperial Treasure: ST.PETERSBURG, RUSSIA.

The great Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich survived the Leningrad Blockade and wrote some of his most striking music during that time. He refused to leave his city; during the blockade, Shostakovich along with other artists, would play for the starving people and troops. These radio concerts would be broadcast via loudspeakers placed all over the city, bringing hope and lifting the morale.

Shostakovich – Symphony No 7: The LENINGRAD SYMPHONY, 1941 (Gergiev). The symphony became a symbol of anti-fascist resistance.

Amber Room

One of the most famous Leningrad treasures was the Amber Room, once given to empress Katerina Velikaya (Catherine the Great) by Prussian king – a feat which, according to historic accounts, bankrupted him. The Amber Room was so unique and beautiful that it was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. The value of the Amber Room? Simply priceless. The gorgeous, but fragile, amber panels were mounted onto a room at the Catherine Palace in the town of Pushkino, on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. Additional panels and paintings were created by Russian artisans in order to complete the room. The empress could sit in it for hours, forgetting about time and space. Anyone who saw the Amber Room is purported to have been awed by its beauty and otherworldly energy.

During the 1941 German advancement, the workers of the Catherine Palace museum managed to wrap up and evacuate practically all of the treasures. But they were afraid to move the fragile Amber Room, fearing it could get damaged if they tried to dismantle the panels. Instead, the decision was made to camouflage it by painting something on top of the panels and building fake walls around it. They hoped Germans would overlook the Amber Room.

When Pushkino was taken their hopes evaporated. Germans arrived with blueprints and drawings. They brought specialists with them, ready to dismantle the treasure. They also arrived with transportation and packaging. They knew exactly where to find the Amber Room; in fact, taking the Amber Room was one of their major goals in Leningrad, orders coming directly from Hitler.

Some of you may know the story: the Amber Room was taken to Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) and stayed there until Soviet troops approached the city. Then it was loaded onto a ship, which may, or may not have, drowned. The Amber Room vanished to never be seen again. Its mystery remains unsolved.

Several years ago the Russian artists and scientists completed the painstaking duplication of the Amber Room, after many years of research and work. The Amber Room 2.0 is now open to the public.

amber-room-catherine-palace

The magnificent Amber Room 2.0. More pics in Tsars, Oligarchs and Imperial Treasure: ST.PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

How Vladimir Putin’s Family Survived the Siege and Blockade of Leningrad

Excerpts from Nemo’s own translation of the original story by 

the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, published in Russian Pioneer 4/30/2015

Read the entire post: “Life is such a simple, yet cruel thing”

“Father worked at a military enterprise when the war started, being exempt from conscription. But he wrote an application to join the party, and then another application – that he wants to go to the front. He was dispatched to the subversive detachment of the NKVD. It was a small detachment. He said that there were 28 people in it, and they were deployed behind the enemy lines to carry out acts of sabotage, undermine bridges, railway tracks… But they were almost immediately ambushed. Someone betrayed them. They came to a village, and then went out, and when after a while they returned, the Nazis were already waiting for them there. They were chased through the woods, and father survived because he climbed into a swamp, and spent a few hours in that swamp, breathing through a reed. While sitting in the swamp and breathing through the reed, he heard how the German soldiers were passing nearby, just a few steps away from him, how the dogs were yapping…

It was the beginning of autumn, in other words – already cold… I also remember how he told me that the leader of their group was a German. A Soviet citizen, but a German.

And here’s what’s curious: a couple of years ago, the archives of the Defence Ministry handed me the case of this group. There is a copy of the case in my home, in Novo-Ogaryovo. A list of the group, names, patronymics and brief descriptions. Yes, 28 people. And at the head – a German. Everything as it was told by my father.

Of the 28 people, only 4 crossed the front line back to ours. 24 were killed.

They were re-assigned to the active army, and sent on to Nevsky Pyatachok. It was probably the hottest place during the whole of the Leningrad Blockade. Our troops held a small bridgehead. Four kilometres in width and some two kilometres in depth. It was supposed to be a springboard for the future breaking of the blockade. But it never got used for this purpose. They broke through the blockade elsewhere. Still the spot (Nevsky Pyatachok) was held, held for a long time, there was heavy fighting there. Very heavy. There are commanding heights above and all around it, it’s shot at throughout. The Germans were, of course, also aware that it’s there that a breakthrough may be attempted, and tried to simply erase the Nevsky Pyatachok  off the face of the earth. There is data about how much metal there is in each square meter of the land. There’s still metal all over the place there.

Father explained how he was wounded there. The wound was heavy. All his life he lived with shrapnel in his leg: not all fragments could be taken out. The leg ached. Foot didn’t bend since then. The medics preferred not to touch the small fragments so as not to shatter the bone. And, thank God, the leg was saved. They could, after all, amputate it. He got a good doctor. He had the second group disablement. As a disabled veteran, he was eventually given an apartment. It was our first separate apartment. A small two-room apartment. (Translators remark: Before that the Putins lived in a communal apartment, where several families share the facilities, corridor and kitchen, and sleep in separate rooms.) However, before that we lived in the centre and now we had to move. True, not quite to the outskirts, but to a new-built area. And it happened, of course, not immediately after the war, but when I already worked in the KGB. I was not given an apartment then, but my father finally got his. It was a great happiness. And here’s how he was wounded. He, together with a comrade, did a little sortie into the rear of the Germans, crawling, crawling… And then it becomes both funny and sad at the same time: they got to a German bunker, and, father said, out of it comes a man, a huge guy, and looks at them… and they couldn’t get up while they were staring into the barrel of a gun. “The man – he says – looked at us very carefully, then he took out a grenade, then another, and threw those grenades at us. Well… ” Life is such a simple, yet cruel thing.

By chance, father’s neighbour from Peterhof was nearby. And that neighbour pulled him over without hesitation and managed to drag him to the hospital. The neighbour waited for him at the hospital, made sure that he was operated, and said, “All right, now you’re going to live, and I am off to die.”

My mother told me how she visited father at the hospital. They had a small child, a three-year-old. At that time there was blockade, hunger… My father would give her his hospital ration, secretly from doctors and nurses. She hid it, took it home and fed the child. When father began to faint from hunger in the hospital, doctors and nurses understood what was happening and didn’t allow her to visit any more.

And then the child was taken away from her. It was done, as she later explained, in a compulsory fashion in order to save small children from starvation. They were collected to the orphanages for further evacuation. Parents were not asked.

He fell ill there – my mother said that it was with diphtheria – and didn’t survive. They were not even told where he was buried. They have never learnt where. And then, last year, completely unfamiliar to me people worked on their own initiative through the archives and found documents about my brother. And that’s really my brother. Because I knew that they lived then, after fleeing from Peterhof from the advancing German troops, at their friends’ place – and I even knew the address. They lived, as we call it, on the Water Channel (Vodnyj Kanal). It would be better to call it a “Bypass channel” (Obvodnyj Kanal), but in Leningrad it’s called “Water Channel”. I know for sure that they had lived there. And not only the address, where he was taken from, coincided. Name, surname, patronymic, date of birth coincided as well. It was, of course, my brother. And there was stated the place of burial: Piskaryovskoye Cemetery. And even the specific area was given.

Parents were told nothing of this. Well, apparently, other things had higher priority back then.

So, everything that my parents told about the war was true. Not a single word was invented; not a single day was moved. About my brother, about the neighbour, about the German, commander of the group. Everything matches. And all this got later confirmed in an incredible way.

After her child was taken away, mother was left alone. When father was allowed to walk, he stood up on crutches and went home. And when he came to the house, he saw that the medics were carrying corpses out of the entrance. And he saw my mother. He came up, and it seemed to him that she was breathing. He told the medics: “She’s still alive!” – “She’ll pass away along the way – said the nurse. – She won’t survive.” He told that he pounced on them with crutches and forced them to lift her back into the apartment. They told him: “Well, we’ll do as you say, but know that we will not come here for another two or three or four weeks. You’ll have to sort it out yourself then.”

He nursed her back to life. She survived and lived until 1999. He died in late 1998.

After the lifting of the blockade, they moved to the homeland of their parents, in the Tver oblast, and lived there until the end of the war. Father’s family was quite large. He had, after all, six brothers, and five of them were killed in the war. This is a disaster for the family. And my mother’s relatives also died. I was a late child; she gave birth to me when she was 41.

There was not a family where someone didn’t die. So much grief, misfortune and tragedy… But they had no hatred for the enemy, that’s what’s amazing. To be honest, I still cannot fully understand this. My mother was a very gentle, kind person… She said, “Well, what kind of hatred can one have toward these soldiers? They are simple people and also died in the war.” It’s amazing. We were brought up on Soviet books, movies… and hatred. But she somehow did not have it in her. And I remember very well her words: “Well, what can you have against them? They are also hard workers, just like us. They were simply force-driven to the front.”

I never forgot those words.”

Lada’s 2 cents:

It’s a tragic and beautiful story. There is only one thing on which I would disagree with President Putin. Quote: “We were brought up on Soviet books, movies… and hatred. But she somehow did not have it in her.”

Yes, we were brought up on Soviet books and movies, but not on hatred. My family didn’t have any hatred towards Germans either, although they lost a lot – see post. Neither do I.  In fact, I personally love German culture and as a student I had two close German friends. It was a common thing. There was no hatred then, and there isn’t any now.

But there is memory – memory which must be kept at all cost. When those old Soviet movies were made, they were created by those who either experienced war themselves or those who remembered it from direct participants. There are fewer and fewer such people left today. We must do everything to preserve the real truth about those events in order to avoid this kind of madness in the future. This is why attempts by some to re-write history cannot be tolerated.

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