Volgograd, formerly Tsaritsyn, 1589–1925, and Stalingrad, 1925–1961, is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south. It is situated on the western bank of the Volga River. The population is
The city became famous for its resistance — and the extensive physical damage and death toll it suffered — during the Battle of Stalingrad against the German Army in World War II. Beginning in 2013, for nine days every year, the city may be officially referred to as "Stalingrad". Some residents have suggested that the city be permanently renamed "Stalingrad"; president Vladimir Putin has expressed that such a move should be preceded by a local referendum.
Although the city may have originated in 1555, documented evidence of Tsaritsyn located at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and Volga Rivers dates only from 1589. The fortress Sary Su (a local Tatar language name meaning: yellow water/river), was established to defend the unstable southern border of the country. It was located slightly above the mouth of the Tsaritsa River on the right bank. It soon became the nucleus of a trading settlement.
In 1607 the fortress garrison rebelled against the tsar's troops for six months. In 1608 the city had its first stone church, St. John the Baptist. At the beginning of the 17th century, the garrison consisted of 350-400 people.
In 1670 troops of Stepan Razin captured the fortress; they left after a month. In 1708 the insurgent Cossack Kondraty Bulavin held the fortress. In 1717, Bulavin (who died in July 1708) was sacked by the Crimean Tatars and Kuban. Later, in 1774, Yemelyan Pugachev unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city.
In 1691, Tsaritsyn established customs. In 1708, Tsaritsyn was assigned to Kazan Governorate; in 1719, to Astrakhan Governorate; According to the census in 1720, the city's population was 408 people. In 1773, the city became the provincial and district town. From 1779, it belonged to Saratov Viceroyalty. In 1780, the city was under Saratov Governorate.
In the 19th century, Tsaritsyn became an important river port and commercial center. The population expanded rapidly during the 19th century, increasing from fewer than 3,000 people in 1807 to about 84,000 in 1900. The first railroad was constructed to the town in 1862. The first theatre opened in 1872, the first cinema in 1907. In 1913, Tsaritsin's first tram-line was built, and the city's first electric lights were installed in the city center.
During the Russian Civil War, Tsaritsyn came under Soviet control from November 1917. In 1918, Tsaritsyn was besieged by White troops under Ataman Krasnov. Three assaults by White troops were repulsed. However, in June 1919 Tsaritsyn was captured by the White forces of General Denikin, which left the city in January 1920. This was known as the Battle for Tsaritsyn.
In 1931, the German settlement-colony Old Sarepta (founded in 1765) subsequently became the largest area of the city — Krasnoarmeysky. The first institute was opened in 1930; a year later the Pedagogical Institute was opened.
Under Stalin, the city became a center of heavy industry and transshipment by rail and river. It was attacked by Germany and Axis forces during World War II. In 1942, the city became the site of one of the pivotal battles of the war. The Battle of Stalingrad had perhaps the greatest casualty figures of any single battle in the history of warfare (estimates are between 1,250,000 and 1,798,619).
The battle began on August 23, 1942, and on the same day, the city suffered heavy aerial bombardment that reduced most of it to rubble. By September, the fighting reached the city center. The fighting was of unprecedented intensity; the central railway station of the city changed hands thirteen times, and the Mamayev Kurgan (one of the highest points of the city) was captured and recaptured eight times. By early November, the German forces controlled 90 percent of the city and had cornered the Soviets into two narrow pockets, but they were unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance in time. On November 19, Soviet forces launched a huge counterattack. This led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and other Axis units. On January 31, 1943 the Sixth Army's commander, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered, and by February 2, with the elimination of straggling German troops, the Battle of Stalingrad was over.
In 1945 the Soviet Union awarded Stalingrad the title Hero City for its resistance. Great Britain's King George VI awarded the citizens of Stalingrad the jeweled "Sword of Stalingrad" in recognition of their bravery. As Stalingrad was destroyed during the war, in 1946, the construction of the modern city started. It included the memorial complex on the Mamayev Kurgan.
A number of cities around the world (especially those that had suffered similar wartime devastation) established sister, friendship and twinning links (see list below) in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of the first "sister city" projects was that established during World War II between Stalingrad and Coventry in England – both suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment.
In 1961, Nikita Khrushchev's administration changed the name of the city to Volgograd ("Volga City") as part of his programme of de-Stalinization following Stalin's death, as he was trying to reduce the "cult of personality". This action was and remains somewhat controversial, given Stalingrad's importance as a symbol of resistance during the war. During Konstantin Chernenko's brief administration in 1985, proposals were floated to revive its historic name. There remains a strong degree of local support for a reversion but intermittent proposals have yet to be accepted by the Russian government.
On May 21, 2007, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation obtained an important success in the Volgograd mayoral election. Communist candidate Roman Grebennikov was elected as mayor with 32.47% of the vote. Grebennikov is Russia's youngest mayor of a federal subject administrative center.
In 2010, the Russian monarchists and leaders of the Orthodox organizations demanded that the city should return to its original name Tsaritsyn, but the authorities rejected their proposal.
On January 30, 2013, the Volgograd City Council passed a measure to use the title "Hero City Stalingrad" in city statements on nine specific dates annually. On the following dates the title "Hero City Stalingrad" can officially be used in celebrations: February 2 (end of the Battle of Stalingrad), February 23, May 8, May 9 (Victory Day), June 22 (start of Operation Barbarossa), August 23 (start of the Battle of Stalingrad), September 2 (Victory over Japan Day), November 19 (start of Operation Uranus), and December 9. In addition, 50,000 people signed a petition to Vladimir Putin, asking that the city's name be permanently changed to Stalingrad. President Putin has replied that such a move should be preceded by a local referendum and that the Russian authorities will look into how to bring about such a referendum.
On August 24, 2004, the Volga-AviaExpress Flight 1353, a Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft flying from Moscow to Volgograd, exploded in mid-air and crashed as a result of suicide terrorist attack. 34 passengers and 9 crew members were on board the aircraft, all of whom died in the crash. A Siberia Airlines flight bound for Sochi that day was also bombed, killing all 46 who were on board.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on Monday 21 October 2013 Russian intelligence officers reported a bomb carried by a female suicide bomber exploded on a passenger bus carrying 40 people while stopped at the Lesobaza bus stop. Irina Gogolyeva, a spokesperson from the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, reported that at least 5 people died in the blast and 17 others were injured. On 22 October 2013 Vladimir Markin from Russia's investigative Committee reported that the suicide bomber had been identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova of Dagestan.
On 29 December 2013 a suicide bomber attacked the Volgograd railway station, killing themselves and 17 other people. The following day a suicide bombing on a trolleybus killed at least 15 people.