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Duration 00:38

Stalingrad receives the King’s sword, May 1944

This clip comes from a newsreel broadcast on May 1944. It shows part of a ceremony that took place at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Marshal Semyon Mikhailovitch Budenny presents the Sword of Stalingrad to the Chairman of the Stalingrad City Council. The sword is a gift from King George VI.

What’s the background to this source?

Hitler’s main aim was to conquer a large empire in Eastern Europe. In June 1941 he attacked the USSR. At first his forces were successful and the USSR was close to collapse. In the spring of 1942 he attacked the southern USSR. Again his forces advanced at first but they were then held back at Stalingrad. In a bloody battle lasting several months Germans forces were gradually surrounded and then defeated. By early 1943 they were being driven back out of the USSR.

The Soviet winters of 1941 and 1942 proved to be key allies. Winter halted the German advance in 1941. In 1942 German troops were not prepared for winter conditions in the USSR. Many died from starvation and cold in Stalingrad. Many historians believe that this battle was the turning point of World War 2.

It’s worth knowing that…

The rest of the newsreel shows various shots inside the Russian Embassy in London where the Russian Ambassador bestows the Medal of Honour on Air Chief Marshal Harris (“Bomber” Harris), General Alanbrook and Admiral Tovey.

In 1943 the city of Coventry, one of Britain’s most heavily bombed, was twinned with Stalingrad. This was the first example of town ‘twinning’ and suggests that British people were aware of just how important the Soviet victory was and how grateful the British people were for that victory.

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