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Eisenhower Library records visiting scholar’s talk on Battle of Stalingrad

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 11:10 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 2:26 p.m.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library recorded and will post on the Internet a visiting Russian scholar’s talk on how the Battle of Stalingrad continues to affect Russian politics, for those who weren’t able to make it to Abilene for the presentation Thursday.

Library spokeswoman Samantha Kenner said library officials asked a volunteer to make a video of the presentation by historian Ivan Kurilla, after hearing from Wichita-area residents who are interested in the topic but couldn’t make it to the Thursday noon brownbag lunch at the library.

The video will be posted on the library’s YouTube channel, IkeLibrary, probably within the next two weeks or so, she said,

Kurilla a historian from Volgograd State University, is speaking on “Memorialization of the Battle of Stalingrad and the Use of the Battle in Contemporary Russian Politics.”

Volgograd, which draws its name from the nearby Volga River, was called Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961.

In 1942, the city was the scene the most ferocious battle between the Soviets and the Nazis in World War II. Five months of fighting over the rubble of the devastated city ended in a decisive defeat for Germany, turning the course of the war and contributing to the eventual downfall of Adolf Hitler.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev changed the city’s name back to Volgograd as part of a deliberate campaign of de-Stalinization following the death of the dictatorial leader, who killed millions of his own people through state-sponsored famine, political purges and prison camps he used to cement his hold on power.

But despite the horrors of Stalinism, some Russians support restoring Volgograd’s name to Stalingrad in honor of the battle that was fought there. The City Council passed an ordinance this year to symbolically rename the city Stalingrad on six days a year, corresponding to important anniversaries from the battle and the war.

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