The guests included Great Patriotic War veterans and participants in the Battle of Stalingrad, Heroes of the Soviet Union, representatives of military-patriotic organisations, heads of veteran associations, cultural figures, art workers, and prominent public office holders.
Vladimir Putin spoke to veterans and presented some of them with copies of excerpts from printed Sovinformburo messages mentioning their deeds. Congratulating the veterans, the President read aloud one of combat bulletins telling about the courage of Stalingrad defenders, and mentioning, in particular, the name of junior sergeant Ivan Filatov.
Russia’s popular artists also congratulated the veterans by performing songs of wartime.
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Speech at reception marking the 70th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Stalingrad
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear veterans, friends,
I congratulate you on the 70th anniversary of our victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. It is a victory that has been written into world history as the turning point in the war against Nazism.
The battle raged for 200 days and resulted in final defeat of the enemy’s largest army group. The entire World War II has been turned around on the Volga River. And it was our people, the Soviet soldiers, who did this, who brought freedom to Europe, who saved the world from destruction and slavery.
”We must do everything to ensure that the truth about Stalingrad and its memory never fade. We have to counter any attempts to distort the events of World War II, to adjust history for opportunistic political purposes, to shamelessly strike the heroic deeds of those who liberated the world from the pages of history.“
We hit our ferocious enemy that enjoyed the power of Blitzkrieg and impunity, with such unbending force, such might, as though the entire nation had risen up to defend Stalingrad.
The city of Stalingrad became a true legend, an unconquerable stronghold. It is a symbol of our spiritual strength and the unity of our multi-ethnic people, our people’s determination to overcome extreme, inhumane suffering in order to save the Fatherland.
The heroes of Stalingrad did more than just defend their homeland. They proved that truth, honour, dignity and love for the Fatherland are the strongest values that can’t be beaten.
The triumphant victory in this decisive battle boosted the Soviet soldiers’ morale and made the faith of our people even stronger. It inspired those who worked selflessly in the rear, gave strength to those fighting in guerrilla regiments, underground, and in the occupied territories. It took the battle against Nazi Germany throughout the entire world to a new level.
Stalingrad was, without a doubt, a turning point in the fate of whole nations and millions of people. It was from here, the unconquered city, that our troops started their journey toward Berlin.
To beat the enemy “the Stalingrad way” became the motto of everyone defending their homeland. And this steadfastness prevented the enemy from implementing any of its strategic goals.
It is also symbolic that General Paulus, who supervised Operation Barbarossa, a treacherous act of aggression against the Soviet Union, was captured near Stalingrad.
We must do everything to ensure that the truth about Stalingrad and its memory never fade. We have to counter any attempts to distort the events of World War II, to adjust history for opportunistic political purposes, to shamelessly strike the heroic deeds of those who liberated the world from the pages of history.
”Heroes are alive as long as they are remembered. The pinnacle of bravery and patriotism is the greatest legacy of the Battle of Stalingrad. And regardless of how many years pass, we will always honour its soldiers.“
The simple truth is that victory in that great battle was achieved by Soviet military commanders and ordinary soldiers. Their bravery and perseverance amazed and awed the entire world. These striking words have been inscribed in the granite on Mamayev Hill forever: “Were these people who went into attack, were they mortal?”
Heroes are alive as long as they are remembered. The pinnacle of bravery and patriotism is the greatest legacy of the Battle of Stalingrad. And regardless of how many years pass, we will always honour its soldiers. We will remember that all generations are forever indebted to the great victors. And we will look back on the past, on our history, to draw spiritual and moral strength, to learn to be victorious and to serve our Fatherland faithfully.
Today, I would like to thank all the veterans of the Great Patriotic War. All who bravely fought against the Nazis, whose lives were scorched by harsh wartime trials, who defended the freedom and independence of our nation.
I wish you good health and all the very best. Happy holiday!