The Russian metropolis of Volgograd resumed its Soviet World War II-era name of Stalingrad on Saturday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.
The name change will be accompanied by concerts, military parades, and attended by President Vladimir Putin. The city was initially named Stalingrad in 1925 after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin but was renamed in 1961 as part of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization campaign.
Unsanctioned by the city are posters and flags displaying the portrait of the Soviet leader who is venerated by some for his role in defeating the Nazis.
I categorically do not justify Stalin’s repressions, but you have to recognise the positive things he did, whether you want to or not. … It would be good to go back to the name of Stalingrad, though not so much because of Stalin himself but because that is how the city was known during the war.
Gamlet Dallatyan, 92-year-old veteran of Stalingrad
It is estimated that 2 million casualties resulted from the brutal Battle of Stalingrad. Warfare was waged on land and air, from trenches to apartment buildings, every inch of Stalingrad was a hard fought struggle for the Red Army as it sought to repel the German Nazi invaders. The 1961 renaming of the city of Stalingrad into its present Volgograd angered many veterans. A campaign to restore the name Stalingrad to the city has circulated a petition that has thus far received over 35,000 signatures.
They hope to try their hand in Russian courts in order to get the city renamed. Many veterans implored President Putin to rename the city Stalingrad because it is a symbol of the fierce patriotic struggle of the Russian people against fascism.
A 2008 poll of Russians found that Stalin was the third most influential figure in Russian history and that 48% of Russians maintained a positive view of him in spite of the purges, political persecutions, and failed collectivization initiatives.