Volgograd is a city in south-west Russia, apparently. Pictures on the internet show green parks and an attractive river. I’d probably heard of it before writing this, but have never thought of visiting. Well why would I?
Turns out that Volgograd used to be known as Stalingrad (named for a Russian dictator, Stalin) and, due to the river – as always seems to be the case – has a strategic location.
If you were, say, Adolf Hitler, and needed fuel for your victorious armies, which by 1942 controlled most of mainland Europe and threatened the rest, then taking Volgograd/Stalingrad was going to be high up on your list of priorities.
Where do Italians come into this? Shouldn’t they off some place sunny, eating pizza and chasing women?
The incredibly long and very interesting Wikipedia page on the WWII battle of Stalingrad, has this:
114,000 Italians … were killed, wounded or captured (from December 1942 to February 1943)
which is an awful lot, in just a few months, even for the Italian army, which – as we have already learned in our Summer Series articles – had recently been routed in North Africa.
So how did Mussolini get his soldiers into yet another mess? And a very chilly one, at that.
Find out by reading/listening to today’s FREE Summer Series article.
There’s just one week left of our 30-article Summer Series, by the way.
Over the last three years we’ve covered the Romans, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance period. Two and a half thousand years of history, or more!
This year, we’re covering a much briefer period, not even a century, from the establishment of the Italian state in the eighteen-sixties to the end of WWII.
And next year, we’ll be doing the rest, not much more than fifty years, so from 1945 up to the euro, and all the ups and downs between.
If you want to understand modern Italy, and what Italians talk about and why, then you need to know about the more recent decades, too. Join us in July 2024 for those final thirty episodes.
In the meantime, find out why one of the major streets in my hometown Bologna is called Via Stalingrado:
N.b. The previous twenty-six episodes in THIS series can be found on our History page, along with the ninety Summer Series articles from previous years. Scroll right down to the end to find the latest ones.
P.S. L’acqua di Giulia – 25%, final reminder!
Here’s a final reminder that you can also improve your Italian reading and listening comprehension skills with our new Italian ‘easy reader’ ebook, L’acqua di Giulia.
It’s level B1/B2 (intermediate), and is discounted 25% this week. But that offer ends on Sunday night…
Join us in seventeenth-century Sicily, where thirteen-year-old Giula is just back from the market with a basket of vegetables. Things aren’t great at home, though…
Giulia aveva percorso la strada dal mercato a casa sotto il sole cocente di Palermo a mezzogiorno. C’era abituata a quel caldo soffocante. Era entrata in casa portando alcune verdure in un cesto pesante. Anche se aveva solo tredici anni, era lei a sbrigare la maggior parte delle faccende di casa, dato che sua madre lavorava e sua sorella Girolama era più piccola di quattro anni.
Aveva spalancato la porta, spingendola con il piede, aveva appoggiato il cesto sulla tavola di legno e sua sorella era arrivata a pulire le verdure con un coltello. Sua madre, che stava in cucina, le aveva detto a voce bassa: “Tuo padre non si sente bene, deve restare a letto a riposare. Non disturbarlo.”
Giulia aveva annuito e si era messa a pulire silenziosamente la cucina. Ognitanto si sentivano dei gemiti dalla stanza dove stava il malato, ma Giulia non si avvicinava. Suo padre era un uomo violento, un mascalzone che beveva e picchiava la moglie e le figlie.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook, where available, cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them. There’s a space to do that on the order form – where it says Additional information, Order notes (optional). If you forget, or if you have problems downloading the .pdf, don’t worry! Email us at the address on the website and we’ll help. Also, why not check out our FAQ?
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