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The southern Russian city of Stalingrad, later renamed Volgograd, witnessed one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. The heavy losses incurred by the German army broke the initiative they had in the East, making the Battle of Stalingrad arguably the most strategically decisive battle of World War II, and a decisive turning point in the war. Particularly merciless was the fighting on and around Mamayev Kurgan, a prominent hill above the city.

When forces of the German Sixth Army launched their attack against the city center of Stalingrad on 13 September 1942, a fierce battle for control took place over Mamayev Kurgan between the German attackers and the defending soldiers of the Soviet 62nd Army. To defend it, the Soviets had built strong defensive lines on the slopes of the hill, composed of trenches, barbed-wire and minefields. The Germans pushed forward against the hill, taking heavy casualties. They finally captured the hill and subsequently the railway station on 14 September 1942.

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