A visiting Russian historian will explain how the Battle of Stalingrad continues to affect Russian politics 70 years later, at a lunchtime presentation Thursday at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
Visiting scholar Ivan Kurilla, from Volgograd State University, will lead the brown-bag discussion 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.
Kurilla’s presentation will be free and open to the public. It is scheduled for noon in the visitors center auditorium at the Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, 200 SE Fourth St., in Abilene.