Eastern Europe 1939-1945: Stalingrad

Should we give Stalingrad the George Cross?

Extract from a British newsreel called Salute to the Red Army, February 1943

ITN Ref: BP250243107312
Courtesy of ITN/Source, London.

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What is this source?

This extract comes from a newsreel clip broadcast on February 25th 1943. It shows part of the ceremony in London to celebrate the Soviet victory at Stalingrad.

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The news of the German surrender came through in early February 1943, so the celebrations were organised fairly quickly.


What's the background to this source?

Hitler’s main aim was to conquer a large empire in Eastern Europe. In June 1941 he attacked the USSR. At first his forces were successful and the USSR was close to collapse. In the spring of 1942 he attacked the southern USSR. Again his forces advanced at first but they were then held back at Stalingrad. In a bloody battle lasting several months Germans forces were gradually surrounded and then defeated. By early 1943 they were being driven back out of the USSR.

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The Soviet winters of 1941 and 1942 proved to be key allies. Winter halted the German advance in 1941. In 1942 German troops were not prepared for winter conditions in the USSR. Many died from starvation and cold in Stalingrad. Many historians believe that this battle was the turning point of World War 2.


It's worth knowing that...

The full news report was about 7 minutes long. It showed scenes similar to the London scenes taking place in all the major cities of Britain.

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The parades must have taken up a lot of manpower and effort in the middle of the war. This suggests that British people were aware of just how important the Soviet victory was and how grateful the British people were for that victory.


How will you use this source?

  1. What were the ceremonies trying to represent?
  2. The speaker was the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Does his speech help historians to understand the significance of the Battle of Stalingrad?
  3. How would you describe the tone of this newsreel?
  4. Does this source tell historians about the popular mood in Britain with regard to the USSR and Stalingrad in particular?
  5. Is there any part of this source you would quote in your final report to the Prime Minister?

Use this report table to help plan your report