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About 30 years ago I visited Taganrog ( steel mill ), and drove through Rostov-on-Don. I did not realize how close Stalingrad was (I only saw Volograd on the map). We did pass a monument marking the limit of the German advance. We stayed in a 100 year old hotel in Taganrog and much of the steel mill was about that old : How did they escape the damage of the nearby war ?

  • Wikipedia on Taganrog has little info. Apparently the damage was 'extensive'. – Lars Bosteen Jul 16 '18 at 12:57
  • If you're talking about this Taganrog then it's 500km away from Stalingrad/Volograd. It probably saw some fighting on the way to Stalingrad but likely wasn't part of the actual battle for Stalingrad. Is there a closer Taganrog? – Giter Jul 16 '18 at 13:08
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Taganrog never saw the city fighting Stalingrad or other sites of major battles did. Both times it changed hands the defenders were too weak to hold it, and most fighting was done in the vicinity of the city, but not inside. Nevertheless, according to damage assesment commission, which worked in the city after it was retaken by Red Army in 1943, damage to the city really was extensive: for example, the city lost 1300 residential buildings - 15% of available housing; out of 31 schools 13 were completely destroyed, and all of the rest were damaged to some extent. All in all, the commission registered 4082 material damage acts, and assessed the damage to the city to ~778.5 million rubles - about 203 million of 2018 USD, if we take the value of dollar in 1946 (53 rubles) and account for inflation.

By the way, the steel mill was amongst the factories listed as damaged in the report. In the years after the war, USSR directed a large-scale restoration effort on the territories damaged by the war. Thus, the steel mill was likely restored to working condition amongst hundreds of other factories elsewhere.

And the hotel? Probably just lucked out to not be amongst those 1300 residential buildings.

Source: Донскова Л. А., "Цена победы: о материальном ущербе и демографических потерях СССР в годы Великой Отечественной войны (общесоюзный и региональный аспекты)" // "Вестник Таганрогского института имени А. П. Чехова", 2010, специальный выпуск № 2, стр. 207, retrieved @ https://cyberleninka.ru/journal/n/vestnik-taganrogskogo-instituta-imeni-a-p-chehova#/967218

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Mostly luck - though at about 450 km distance from Stalingrad/Volgograd it was well behind the main lines for most of that conflict.

Twice, in December 1941 and March 1943, Taganrog happened to be roughly where the furthest extent of German and Soviet advance halted from supply exhaustion. Then when hostilities resumed:

  • Russian counter attacks in December 1941 as well as the German responses centred around Moscow.
  • The German offensive in Spring 1942 was launched further north, aimed through Voronezh with (mostly successful) intent of encircling Soviet forces around Taganrog and Rostov-on-Don.
  • The German offensive in Spring 1943 was exclusively focused on Kursk, much further north.
  • The Soviet offensive in Spring 1943 did, at its southernmost extent, run straight through Taganrog; however when this occurred in August (1) the local German defenders were too weak to mount a strong defense; and (2) Taganrog itself was on a backwater peninsula peripheral to the nearby conflict. enter image description here
  • I thought it was closer, I see about 350 km in a straight line. Wiki says it was occupied by Germany for about 2 years and "extensively" damaged. But the very old hotel and steel mill ( built be Belgium in about 1900) led me to conclude there had been little damage. – blacksmith37 Jul 16 '18 at 15:20
  • @blacksmith37: I used 'Google distance from to' for the crow's flight distance. On road is about 70 km longer. Are you sure you didn't measure on-road-miles instead of crows-flight-km? 520 / 1.6 ~ 330. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 16 '18 at 15:23
  • I used the distance legend at the bottom of the Google map and measured the distance on the screen with a scale - very old school. Maybe the legend is affect by the computer magnification ? However I am more confused because Wiki says that Rostov was also occupied by the Germans , but I saw a large monument between Taganrog and Rostov that marked the furthest advance of the German army.. Also, we were given a tour of Taganrog and saw old homes and schools that were original ; not replicas built after WW2. So I did not see evidence of "extensive " damage. – blacksmith37 Jul 16 '18 at 16:15
  • @blacksmith37: The 'furthest advance in 1941', as part of Operation Barbarossa, would have been between Taganrog and Rostov; though the Germans advanced further in 1942. It's possible there was a translation error on the sign, or even a conceptual error by the author confusing Operation Barbarossa with the entire 4 year campaign. Mistakes happen. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 16 '18 at 16:21

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