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Volgograd Diary: War and Theater

The former Drama Theater in Volgograd’s Square of Fallen Heroes offers us nothing special from an architectural point of view — extra credit, though, for anyone able to read the city’s name backwards in Cyrillic shadow lettering on the pavement — but the building and the ground around it are rich in history from the period when Volgograd was known as Stalingrad. As Jonathan Bastable describes in Voices From Stalingrad:

… the square was strewn with dead Germans, or with Germans who would be dead very soon. Waves of soldiers flowed like gray floodwater into the fetid cellars of the buildings around the square: the Sixth Army was retreating underground. Both able-bodied and wounded men crammed into the bottom of the city theater, just opposite the hotel, and set up firing points in windows and doorways. Many thousands more occupied basements throughout the diminishing patch of ruins that remained in German hands. They continued to resist the Russian advance from the west, and ferocious battles were still being fought…

Volgograd Theater.jpg

Today the edifice across the street from the Volgograd Hotel has a lively selection of plays put on by its New Experimental Theater, and there is a nice little restaurant on its far side. But as the cars drive by, one wonders if any active memory survives of the life-or-death events from 70 years ago.

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