A Trip to the Battlefield - May 2002
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These pages are dedicated with thanks to Tony, Evgeny and Galina who opened the doors, worked the system and found the veterans. An unforgettable experience for all of us.
Fallen Heroes Square - Stalingrad - May 9th 2002
Fallen Heroes Square - Stalingrad - January 31st 1943
The red flag flies over Stalingrad. The building directly below the letter 'r' of the main title is the Univermag Store. The basement of this building was 6th Army Headquarters at the time of the surrender on 31st January, 1943.
The above model of the Univermag Store as it was in January 1943 can be seen in the NKVD museum in Stalingrad. The museum is located inside the local prison.
This picture of the Univermag Store was taken from a bedroom window at the rear of the Intourist Hotel,Fallen Heroes Square,Stalingrad in May 2002.
Lieutenant Fyodor Mikhailovich Elchenko was the first to enter the basement of the store immediately prior to the surrender He is quoted in Alexander Werth's book 'The Year of Staligrad":
"It's empty now, but you should have seen it then. It was packed with soldiers - hundreds of them. You couldn't move a finger in such a crowd. It was worse than any tramcar.They were dirty and hungry. And did the look scared! They had all fled down here, to get away from the mortar fire outside".
He went on to say that the surrender was negotiated by Major General Raske and Paulus's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Schmidt (in a leopard skin cap). About Paulus, Elshenko said:
"He was lying on his bed here ... wearing his uniform ... he looked unshaven and miserable".
Elchenko (at the time of writing) is alive and living in Kiev. The veterans of the Battle are seeking to reinstate the basement as it was in January 1943 and open it as a museum in time for the 60th anniversary of the battle, next year. I wish them well.
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