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ON THIS DAY

31 Jan 13. Tapping white sticks, in wheelchairs and on crutches, the scarred soldiers of Stalingrad are gathering in this city built on bones to compare notes on how they survived one of the world’s most fearsome battles. The 70th anniversary of the German surrender on the Volga is an emotionally charged event, and not only because it turned the tide against Hitler’s supposedly invincible army. It is to be marked by a huge parade in the centre of what is now Volgograd, past the battered department store where the broken commander of the German Sixth Army, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, holed up in an excrement-caked cellar. It is likely to be the last big rendezvous between Russian and German veterans; the Russians heavy with medals on their lapels, the Germans in civilian clothes, with not a single Iron Cross on view. The Russians, no longer shackled by the Soviet-era propaganda machine, are anxious to tell of even politically incorrect experiences on the confused, bloody front line of Stalingrad, the city named after Joseph Stalin. (Source: The Times)

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