July 23, 2023

What's in a Name? Stalin.


What's in a Name? Stalin.
"The Motherland Calls," a monument in the Russian city that used to be called Stalingrad. The Russian Life files.

The government of Volgograd, the city famed as the former StalBattle of Stalingradingrad, has added September 3 to the roster of days when it takes on its old Soviet name.

According to the city duma in a July 19 press release, this new date marks "the day of victory over militaristic Japan and the end of World War II." On September 3, city signs will be changed to "Stalingrad" as a nod to the Soviet past.

This is not the first temporary renaming that Volgograd has adopted. Since 2022, nine other dates throughout the year have been selected as annual times when the city goes by Stalingrad, including May 9, Russia's main patriotic holiday.

Volgograd was founded as Tsaritsyn in the sixteenth century. However, in 1924, the Soviet government changed the city's name to Stalingrad to honor the USSR's new general secretary. In 1961, during de-Stalinization, the name was changed to Volgograd, after the Volga River which runs through it,

During World War II, Stalingrad was the site of the largest battles in human history, in which nearly 2 million lost their lives as Nazi Germany obliterated the city while trying to take it.

Later in the war, in August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Germany's ally Japan and invaded Manchuria, attacking from the north and west as the US and Western allies fought in the Pacific. The war ended less than a month later, with Japan's surrender.

The choice to adopt renaming days for Volgograd comes amid a surge in Russian patriotism as the war in Ukraine wears on.

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