For those with a decent knowledge of world history, the mention of “World War II” and “Russia”, quickly leads to the “Battle of Stalingrad”. This battle was a major turning point of the War. The Atlantic Cities highlights the prospect of the Russian city of Volgograd changing its name back to Stalingrad, as it was known from 1925 to 1961.
The dilemma is causing considerable debate. While Joseph Stalin is considered a vicious tyrant who possibly killed as many as 20 million of his own citizens, many consider that he was also an important figure in the nation’s history. Others point to the patriotic significance of the Battle of Stalingrad as justification to revert to the old name.
Changing a city name at the best of times can be a minefield and should be approached with great caution and transparency. For a city like Volgograd, there are strong arguments on both sides and the ultimate decision is not likely to be universally welcomed. It’s a highly emotional debate.
While this is an extreme example, changing city and place names should be approached with great caution involving extensive consultation, research and cost-benefit analysis because it will impact every person and organization in the city.