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Coventry plans to celebrate historic twinning with Stalingrad

todayApril 9, 2021

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In association with its first twin city Stalingrad (now called Volgograd), Coventry is holding a year-long celebration to mark its links with 26 twin cities.

Celebratory events are being planned by a consortium of four organisations: UK Twin Towns & Sister Cities Foundation; Coventry & Volgograd Bond of Friendship Committee; Coventry Association for International Friendship (CAIF); and Positive Images Festival.

On 6 October 1941, “The Coventry Telegraph” reported that women of Coventry decided to send a message of support to the women of Stalingrad. Coventry, which was devastated by aerial bombing during the war, understood Stalingrad’s pain – suffering more than a million casualties during the fierce Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43.

The gesture marked the modest beginning of a friendship between the two cities, united by their shared suffering. A Stalingrad paper wrote about these messages of support on 13 November 1941, the day before the Coventry Blitz’s first anniversary.

Lord Mayor of the City of Coventry, Cllr Ann Lucas, said: “We are so proud of our links with Volgograd and the way we have worked together for the past 80 years, using our own stories to inspire others towards peace and friendship.

“Coventry is honoured to have been there at the very start, and we will continue to work with our friends from around the world to promote twinning and the many benefits it brings to us all.”

The events begin with an online summit on 23 April from 2 pm onwards to mark the International Twin Cities Day. Invitations have been sent to Coventry’s 26 twin cities, each of which will present a short message of friendship.

At this summit, an announcement will be made about the Twin Cities Awards on 6 October 2021 to honour individuals and organisations for their sterling work in promoting international friendship. A committee of experts will hold a reception in Volgograd on 30 October.

A grand live event on International Twin Cities Day will be held in April 2022.

Ram Lakha OBE, Chair of the Coventry Association for International Friendship, said: “Coventry is internationally renowned as a centre of peace and reconciliation and as the initiator of the trailblazing twinning movement.

“The 80th Anniversary of Citizens2Citizens Friendship is being marked in this extraordinary year when Coventry begins its reign as the City of Culture UK. All eyes will be on Coventry. We hope to be significant partners in this celebration and also use our twinning events to rejuvenate our friendships with our twin cities.”

Written by: David Watkins

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