Russians remember the Battle of the Caucasus
By the second year of WWII, Adolf Hitler realized that seizing control over the resource-rich North Caucasus would be a vital factor in taking Moscow, and deployed the best of his army into the region.
“After the loss of Ukraine, the North Caucasus became the main source of food supply to the Soviet Union,” said historian Andrey Soyustov. “Besides, the Caucasus is rich in metals, most importantly Baku and Grozny – they were the oil-producing regions of the USSR. That means that 1942 was the year of fighting for the Soviet oil tap.”
The Nazis were so confident of success that they began giving German names to the passes, mountains and gorges in the region. Locals had to flee in a bid to save their lives, taking the only passage across the mountains.
“The trip was very long, a terribly exhausting ascent.” recalled Alla Kuraksina who crossed the Great Caucasus Mountain Range 68 years ago at the age of six, along with her mother and baby brother. “Crossing a mountain pass at 3000 meters above sea level is no mean feat.”
Due to the rough terrain, mountain climbers from all across the Soviet Union were brought in to resist the Nazis and assist civilians like Alla to flee the region. Alla says she owes her life to them.
Several months into the battle, Nazi soldiers managed to plant the swastika on the highest peak of Europe. It did not stay there for long, however. Within a matter of weeks the hammer and sickle was back, and the German army suffered a devastating defeat at Stalingrad. And so began the inevitable pushback, which would see the fall of Berlin and the end of the Nazi regime.