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2 Feb, 2010 11:27

Russia celebrates victory over Nazis in Battle of Stalingrad

Today Russia is marking the 67th anniversary since Soviet troops defeated Nazi forces at the Battle of Stalingrad.

Veterans, young people and public figures alike are paying tribute to the fallen Soviet defenders of the city, now known as Volgograd.

Thousands have come to Mamayev Kurgan, where a famous 52-meter-tall statue of Motherland now stands. Among them is retired colonel Anatoly Kozlov, who took part in the battle.

“It was a real hell. Those who survived will never forget it,” the colonel was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying. “[Mamayev Kurgan is an] eternal memory to my friends, who did not live until the victory.”

Mamayev Kurgan was right in the epicenter of the Stalingrad battle. There more than 30,000 soldiers lay buried.

Other memorable sites of the battle are also being honored on Tuesday. People have laid flowers to the memorial on Bald Hill, where three Russian fronts of the Great Patriotic War came together, and also at the cemetery in a village of Rossoshki in the Volgograd region.

The German attack started in summer 1942 and gained ground rapidly, while an aerial bombardment turned most of the buildings in former Stalingrad to rubble.

Despite controlling over 90% of the city, the Nazis were unable to dislodge the remaining Soviet defenders.

The battle was one of the turning points of the war, marking the beginning of the Soviet counter-offensive in 1943, which ended on May 9, 1945, with a victory. Lasting 200 days and nights – it is also the longest and bloodiest battle in history.