By Tom Dare
INCREDIBLE VIDEO and a series of newly colourised pictures from one of the most brutal battles of the Second World War have been released today, on the 75th anniversary of its conclusion.
Incredible images from the 1942-1943 Battle of Stalingrad show German soldiers filling the streets as they advance on the city centre, with others showing whole districts of the city ablaze as the fierce battle continued around the clock.
Further images from the collection show an eerie looking monument in the centre of the city against the backdrop of a burning building, while the bloodied face of a Soviet soldier after being captured by a German can also be seen. Footage taken by Nazi forces as part of German propaganda video also shows the brutal nature of the battle.
The Battle of Stalingrad is still renowned today as one of the harshest and bloodiest battles in the history of modern warfare, with between 1.7 and 2 million killed, wounded or captured as the Soviets fought desperately to defend the city of Stalingrad from the advancing Nazi forces between August 1942 and February 1943.
Known for its intense, close-quarters fighting and the open attacks on civilians, the battle is also remembered today for the refusal of the Soviet troops to surrender. Despite being surrounded and facing a long, harsh winter with very few supplies, the city held out and eventually pushed the Nazis back, to the point that the Axis armies were forced to surrender on February 2, 1943.
And colouriser Royston Leonard, a 55-year-old electrician from Cardiff who spent hours painstakingly restoring the photos into colour, says that the battle brings to mind a certain ‘never-say-die’ attitude that was pivotal in shifting the momentum on the eastern front.
“The photos show the Russians starting to fight back, holding their ground in their city, and most importantly never giving up hope,” he says.
“This battle within that city was the turning point in the war on the eastern front, and showed the world that Stalingrad was a city that did not give up even when they had almost nothing left to fight with.
“The whole thing took me about two weeks to complete, mostly working in the evenings. The poor quality of the photos made some very hard to work with, but when you look at the finished product I think it’s all worthwhile.”