Nearly all sights in the center of Volgograd (former Stalingrad) are related to the defense of the city in 1942, but Mamayev Kurgan (the mound of Mamai) is a special place for all Russian people, being a symbol of the Russian spirit, which made it possible to win the Germans during the World War II.
Mamayev Kurgan overlooks the center of Volgograd. If you control this height and can put artillery batteries there, you will actually control the whole city. It was for this reason that the most fierce clashes of the Battle of Stalingrad took place around this district.
There are two versions related to the name «Mamayev Kurgan». Some historians think that on this hill the quarters of khan Mamai were located, the one who was defeated in the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, though there is another simple explanation – «mamai» means «hillock» in the tongue of the Volga Tatars. In the military documents Mamayev Kurgan was called the «Height 102».
There were concentrated a great number of German troops around Mamayev Kurgan during its assault. Red October metallurgical works and the tractor plant were to the north of Mamayev Kurgan. During the main attack on Stalingrad, on 14th October, 1942, they were simultaneously approached by 5 divisions (3 infantry and 2 tank divisions), with the width of front being only 4 kilometers. The German attack on the main bridgeheads of Stalingrad was supported by over a thousand planes.
At some time the Germans were able to occupy Mamayev Kurgan, but the Russian troops conducted several successful counterattacks. The intensity of fire was so high that later search groups found from 500 to 1000 shells and splinters on each square meter of the mound. In the first post-war years grass didn’t grow on Mamayev Kurgan.
Today a huge memorial complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad is located on Mamayev Kurgan, which is, perhaps, the main Russian memorial complex dedicated to the Great Patriotic War.
The Poplar Alley leads from the Lenin Avenue to the Square of `Those who fought to the bitter end’. The monumental sculpture of a Soviet soldier is in the square. A bit further on one can see the symbolic ruins of Stalingrad. Passing by them, one gets on the Square of Heroes, with several (six) sculpture groups on the right and a memorial wall with the words of Grossman on the left of the square. ««Iron wind blew in their faces, and they went on, and the enemy was again overwhelmed by superstitious fear: were it people who went into the battle, were they mortal»?
And beyond the square is the entrance to the Hall of Military Glory, and at «The Mourning Mother» sculpture there begins the ascent to «The Motherland Calls» sculpture on the Mamayev Kurgan. Along the alley leading up on Mamayev Kurgan one can see the slabs covering the remnants of 34 505 Soviet soldiers who defended Stalingrad.
«The Motherland Calls» sculpture is at the top of Mamayev Kurgan. The height of the sculpture is 52 meters, and the total height including the sword is 85 meters. The length of the upheld sword is over 30 meters. It is the world`s largest monument.