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    61ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD

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    VOLGOGRAD, February 2, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Irina Ilyicheva) - Today Russia marks the 61st anniversary of the defeat of the Nazi at Stalingrad.

    Stalingrad, which is located in the southeastern Russia on the Volga river, has become a symbol of Soviet heroism during the Second World War. The Soviet command was given and accomplished the task of preventing the Germans from crossing the Volga and advancing further into Russia. In February 1943, Nazi troops sustained their first big defeat. The Battle of Stalingrad signified a radical change in the war. Before that battle, Hitler's army was on the offensive, but after Stalingrad it started to retreat and was completely defeated in May 1945.

    The Battle of Stalingrad lasted for 200 days and nights. The city was almost completely ruined. During the battle, the Nazis fired 100 mines, shells and bombs per square meter on Stalingrad.

    Today, survivors of that historic battle will meet in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). According to tradition, flowers and wreaths will be laid to the Eternal Flame in honor of those who sacrificed their lives defending the city. Exhibitions in museums, documentaries and films will be devoted to the Battle of Stalingrad today.

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