"The Motherland Calls" is most likely the most famous war memorial of the Second World War ever made. This sculpture has a height of 52 meters (together with the sword even 85 meters) and represents the antique Nike (goddess of victory) calling her sons and daughters to resist the enemy and continue advancing onto it. Along the serpentine are 34,510 fallen defenders of Stalingrad buried in mass graves and the graves of 35 heroes and senior officers (indicated by granite stones), including the famous sniper Vasily Zaytsev.
The Mamayev hill (height 103.0 on military maps) was the highest point in Stalingrad (today: Volgograd) and thus an important objective of the German 6th Army during the battle of Stalingrad. Fighting for this hill began on 13 September 1942, when German troops assaulted the fortified Mamayev, which was defended by elements of the Soviet 62th Army. When the Germans took the hill, they began firing on the centre of Stalingrad. The Soviet 13th Guards-rifle Division (10,000 men strong) retook Mamayev on 16 September 1942, suffering extreme losses. The Germans assaulted the hill an avarage of 12 times a day and the hill changed several times of ownership during the battle. The 6th German Army managed to take half of Mamayev hill on 27 September 1942. This situation remained unchanged untill the defenders's relief by the Sovjet winter offensive on 26 January 1943.
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- Text: Kaj Metz
- Photos: Auke de Vlieger