On 6 June 1944, a Stalingrad Friendship society was formed in Coventry and this is often taken as the first example of city twinning, though the official twinning came seven years later. The link with Volgograd arose out of the close connection people in Coventry felt with Stalingrad during the second world war. From August 1942 through February 1943, nearly two million people were killed or injured in the Battle of Stalingrad including tens of thousands of Russian civilians. However any gains the Germans made were short lived as they were cut off from their supply lines and tens of thousands of troops died.
Runaround kids fountain. Panorama Museum, Volgograd
There was a huge groundswell of support for the Russian people in Britain including in Coventry. During the Battle of Stalingrad, 900 Coventry women signed their names on a tablecloth which was sent with a message of sympathy to the women of Stalingrad. This effort was led by Alderman Emily Smith, the then Mayor of Coventry. People contributed sixpence to sign their name and money was also collected in factories and in other organisations. This money was then sent to Stalingrad to support the hospitals and with medical supplies. which remains in the extensive Panorama Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad today.
The story is told well on the Talking Birds web site. Click here to read it.
Talking Birds is a Coventry based company which is carrying out several projects concerned with space and memory. You can check their website here.
There is a further short overview of the Coventry-Stalingrad link from Catherine Danks published in 'The Conversation' 8 June 2018
The story of the Battle of Stalingrad is covered in many further sources (see Wikipedia or Encyclopaedia Britannica) This shortened version comes with video and is free. You can also listen to a witness account on the BBC world service, the programme is called Witness History. Listen to it here.
You can catch several documentaries about the Battle of Stalingrad uploaded onto You Tube as well as an online tour of the Panorama museum. Many commercial films of the battle have been made ('Enemy at the Gate' is a well known one which gives the flavour of the siege albeit takes liberties with the facts for dramatic effect).
Volgograd council web pages can be found here:
The official Russian tourist office guide to Volgograd can be found here:
*Please note that the twinning with Volgograd was paused following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.*