Volgograd, formerly Tsaritsyn (1589–1925), and Stalingrad (1925–1961), is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is 80-kilometer (50 mi) long, north to south and is situated on the western bank of the Volga River, after which the city was named.
The defence of Stalingrad from July to November 1942, the counter-offensive of 19 November 1942 that trapped the Axis forces in and around the ruined city, and the German surrender on 2 February 1943 marked the turning-point of the European Theatre of World War II. The intensity and sheer scale of the battle of Stalingrad illustrate the ferocity of the German-Soviet War. Heavy German bombardment, killing thousands of civilians, had turned the city into a landscape of ruins. Workers of the city's weapons factories started personally handing over arms and ammunition to the defending soldiers as the Germans closed in, and eventually continued the fight themselves. Ever more Soviet troops were shipped into the city across the Volga River under enemy fire. German superiority in tanks became useless in the rubble of urban warfare. Fierce man-to-man fighting in streets, buildings and staircases continued for months. The Red Army moved its strategic reserve from Moscow to the lower Volga, and transferred all available aircraft from the entire country to the Stalingrad area. The Germans eventually lost a quarter of their total forces deployed on the Eastern Front, and never fully recovered from the defeat. The total casualties on both sides are estimated at nearly 2 million, within a period of 200 days. Stalingrad was awarded the title Hero City in 1945.