The Magnificent Victory Sword of Stalingrad

This is the story of the gift of King George VI from the British to the Russian people of Stalingrad.

One of the most famous swords of modern times is the Stalingrad Sword.
It was made in memory of the enormous sacrifices of the Russian people in Stalingrad.

Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the largest battles in the world. It lasted between August 21st, 1942 and February 2nd, 1943. It was also one of the bloodiest - fighting over 200 days.

The Red Army and the civilian population of Russia suffered huge losses, nevertheless, the Red Army managed to encircle the German group in Stalingrad, while approximately 750,000 people were killed or taken prisoner. Six German divisions were destroyed.

The losses of the Red Army amounted to more than 400,000 killed, and more than 40,000 civilians died.

This battle was a turning point for the victorious offensives of the Red Army and the beginning of the end of the terror of Nazism.

The victory in the Battle of Stalingrad broke the backbone of the German invasion - moreover, it broke it in front of the whole world. Our enemy lost more than a quarter of all his forces on the Soviet-German front. It became clear: Hitler can and should be driven back to Berlin.

The victory made such an impression on the British King George VI that he ordered to forge a sword as a gift to the Soviet Union.

The task of designing the Sword was given to the Wilkinson Sword Company and was forged by English blacksmith Tom Basie, it took three months to make the sword. This Sword represented the finest British craftsmanship. The model was based on the participants' double-edged two-handed sword crusades (Crusader's). It took three months from the first projects to the final version of the weapon. All work on the development of its design was carried out by the best specialists with the direct participation of the king.

He personally approved of the sketch drawn by an Oxford professor named Glidow, a renowned connoisseur of the fine arts.

The length of the Sword was 4 feet (1.25 meters).

The famous sword-smith Tom Besley with a blade for the Stalingrad Sword.

The handle was twisted from 18-carat gold wire, and the hilt was made of rock crystal.

The cruciform guard is forged of silver with tips made in the form of leopard heads.

The blade was convex and made of better steel.

On each side there was an engraved inscription:
To the steel hearted citizen of Stalingrad - the gift of King George VI -
in token of homage of the British people

The reverse side of the blade contained a Russian translation of the same text:
The steel courage of the citizens of Stalingrad - a gift from King George VI -
in appreciation of the British people

The scabbard was made of deep red Persian lamb skin. They were adorned with a silver Royal Coat of Arms, a Crown and initials, gilded silver fasteners in the form of five-pointed stars and three rubies set in them. The five-pointed ruby stars clearly hint at the Soviet Union... The stars are set in gold, all the other decorations - the royal coat of arms, monogram and crown, as well as overlays - are either made of silver entirely or silver-plated.

Nine experts from the UK Goldsmiths Guild watched as his design was embodied in metal.

The head of the sword is crystal and is crowned with a golden rose - the symbol of the Tudor royal family.

The guard is made of gilded silver, its tips are made in the form of stylized leopard heads.

Such decorations on weapons, they are also called "zoomorphic", come from time immemorial, and the sword itself is very traditional. Such a sword could well have been wielded by medieval knights.

On November 29, 1943, the notorious meeting of the Big Three - Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt - took place in Tehran.

During the ceremony preceding the meeting, Churchill handed the weapon to Stalin, he took the weapon as it should be and kissed the scabbard.

And when he handed the sword to Roosevelt, who was standing next to him, so that the American president could also see it, he exclaimed: "Indeed, they had hearts of steel!"

Images and links provided courtesy of Robert Wilkinson Latham. Text by Olof Janson, photographs courtesy of Robert Wilkinson Latham