By Liana Jacob
DRAMATIC photographs from the Battle of Stalingrad have been brought to life in colour to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of this critical defeat of Hitler’s Nazi’s during WW2.
The colourised pictures show a soviet soldier victoriously hoisting a flag over the city of Stalingrad, German troops of the 6th Army making their move into the suburbs of Stalingrad, in 1942.
One photograph reveals the more heart-breaking truth about the consequence of the battle with an Italian driver of a FIAT truck lying dead on the snowy ground in Stalingrad. Another shows the coloured portrait of Ivanov Alexei, a young scout who participated in the defence of Stalingrad and was awarded the medal for the Defence of Stalingrad in 1943.
The various momentous photographs were colourised by German and Russian translator, Olga Shirnina, from Moscow, Russia.
“The Battle of Stalingrad amazes me with the scale of participation of people and military equipment from both sides,” Olga said.
“It is stunning how Soviet soldiers stood to death. An English journalist wrote: in 28 days Hitler captured the whole of Poland and in Stalingrad during the same period managed to capture only one house.
“France surrendered to the Nazis in 38 days, for which the defenders of Stalingrad gave them only one street. The Pavlov’s house the defender’s held for 58 days against a heavy Wehrmacht offensive.
“It was the turning point of WW2: after Stalingrad, they understood that it was impossible to win the war against the Soviet Union.”
The Battle of Stalingrad commenced on August 23, 1942 then lasted until February 2, 1943, and was the major battle of World War Two.
Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now known as Volgograd) in Southern Russia.
It is often considered as one of the largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.7 to two million wounded, killed or captured) battles in warfare history.
Olga describes what it was like to colourise the images.
“It was kind of sobering. No other battles can be compared with Stalingrad. When colourising these photos, I tried to make them as realistic as possible; to give a sense of presence,” she said.
“I was again and again astonished at the harsh conditions under which the fighting took place. There was also a feeling of bitterness that so many people died in this bloodbath.
“Working on the photo of the dead Italian driver, I thought: what have you forgotten here in the cold steps near Stalingrad? If you stayed in Italy, you would have lived.”
August 23, 2017, marks the battle’s 75th anniversary.
“Both of my grandfathers fought in war, not in Stalingrad, but the word ‘Stalingrad’ alone thrills the heart,” Olga said.
“People should never forget the great importance of the battle in Stalingrad and the high price the Russians have paid for the Allied victory.”
Pictures like this are featured in a new book on iconic colourised photographs called Retrographic, by author Michael D. Carroll. The book is currently available to preorder on amazon for £19.95