Tag Archives: Stalingrad

Volgograd, Russia: Stills/Video

I did a blog post about my travels to Volgograd some time ago, which you can read here: https://wernerpriller.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/volgograd-russia-the-past-and-the-present-part-one/ . One can´t believe that this city, formerly known as Stalingrad, has been destroyed by 95 % of its origin, and yet, has risen again, thanks to the unbreakable will of its inhabitants. I did this journey in Oct. 2012, honoring my uncle’s death for the 70th anniversary. All the years I thought that WW II has been such a waste of human life. Today,  I know that by giving their lives, they enabled us, the next generation, to live in times without war, for almost 70 years now.  I´m very grateful for that every day. I now know too (and realize), that this journey to Volgograd has been the beginning of my own journey into “within”. The old lady in the red dress had opened, just with a few words, my heart in a way I had experienced only once before. Like on a German documentary about Volgograd, the speaker said: ” To truly understand WW II, you have to come to Volgograd, to see and feel this place.” With this stills/video, I hope I can give you an idea about that. The song is by Metallica, called Nothing Else Matters – HD-button for a higher resolution. Enjoy!

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Valeriy Shtrykov, R.I.P.

I had met Valeriy Shtrykov Oct. 2012 while being in Volgograd, the former Stalingrad, looking for the burial ground of one of my fallen uncles during the battle of Stalingrad at WW II. My guide and organizer Mike (Mikhail Shuvarikov) made connections with Valeriy, knowing that this guy had helped the Volksbund (German organisation for finding and excavating fallen and missed german soldiers during WW II) and that only this guy would find the place where my uncle Martin has been shot dead somewhere along the still existing rail road tracks,  west of Volgograd. That day we picked up Valeriy at his house and he showed me all the stuff he had collected during the years he was digging and searching missing soldiers (he has also worked for a lots of other organizations and governments). We instantly became friends and on the way out to the fields/steppe, he drew me a sketch of the former burying grounds which were made during the war/fights and where soldiers only had been thrown in and left there with no trace. Valeriy knew all those places and we have spent the day out there in the steppe, digging and looking for relics of the war. I owe him that much for showing me that place, I can´t be  thankful ever enough. Early May, he got murdered by his own uncle in his house, for reasons unknown. Rest in peace, Valeriy, I´m very glad I have met you!!

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Valeriy in front of his house, Volgograd…

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The sketch Valeriy was drawing for me…

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Finding the way through the steppe…

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Let´s go searching…

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Valeriy and me with a piece of a human coccyx we just found…

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A piece of a human cranium and Valeriy´s tattooed hand…

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Valeriy along the rail road tracks…

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Me, Valeriy, Sergey and Mike, out in the steppe…

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Valeriy was digging everywhere, even if the sign says: “No Digging!”…

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Volgograd, Russia: The Past And The Present, Part One

“What the fuck am I doing here?!” was my first thought as I was arriving at the Gumrak Airport in Volgograd (the former Stalingrad), on the 13th of October. The flight from Munich to Moscow and then to VOG was delayed and the cold, windy and dreary weather did the rest to my lonesome journey into the past. The one and only reason to get here  was the death of one of my uncles, Martin Priller, during one of the most fiercest battles of WW II, the fight for the city of Stalingrad. While booking my flight a couple of weeks ago, I did not realize then, that my intended travel time from the 12th-19th of October coincided with the 70th anniversary of the death of my uncle – the 16th Oct. 1942! Just five days before I had left home, I have found a website of a local travel agency, and after making contact via Facebook, I had a very reliable, english speaking tour guide – thanks again Mike (Mikhail Shuvarikov). While touring with him, there is no car rental in VOG, I got around places I could not even have dreamed about before. Like having a “scout” who knew all the former cemeteries of the German soldiers and doing some digging there, getting in touch with a patriarch of a once bombed orthodox church or an old lady who were talking about the bombings of Stalingrad of the German Army when she was a child. So many doors opened up, again and again, and time went by like there would be no time at all. Even the weather was cooperating and I had a fantastic last night, spending it at the Mamajey Kurgan Memorial Complex. To be continued.

If anyone is interested in doing a photo tour to VOG, please let me know; I could arrange something like that. Going out to the battlefields and do some digging, visiting the German and Soviet Soldier Cemetery at Rossoschka, doing a city sight-seeing-tour and spend an evening/night at the Mamajev Kurgan Complex. Enjoy!

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The battlefields of Stalingrad, out in the steppe; the supposed area where my uncle has died/was shot; the positions and emplacements are still there, also you can still find – without digging – relics like bones, bullets, shrapnel, buttons of cloth and tents….

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Bones, buttons and shrapnel…everything is still there…

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One of the very few buildings that got out from WW II; some 95 % of former Volgograd was destroyed (bombed)…

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The Orthodox Church at the Mamajev Kurgan Complex during twilight; the stars belong to the constellation of Sagittarius…

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The crescent Moon, Mars and Antares over the city of Volgograd; Mars is about 1.7° separated of the setting Moon…

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The Mamajev Kurgan Memorial Complex at night; the statue “Mother Russia is calling”, standing 85 m tall, is the main attraction, while “The Lake of Tears” smooth surface is reflecting the lights…

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world!”

(Mahatma Gandhi)
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