Vitaly Arutyunov The Mamayev Hill series, First prize, World Press Photo 1987.©RIA Novosti / TopFoto

The caption to this image reads (with a bit of editing): 'the 52m-tall monument The Motherland Calls was the tallest statue in the world when erected in 1967.  Mamayev Kurgan overlooks the city of Volograd, formerly Stalingrad, in southern Russia. The name in Russian means tumulus of Mamai. Today, Mamayev Kurgan features a memorial complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad.'

TopFoto is such an interesting place: each day an image from exactly 50 years ago.  It is hardly ancient history, but not only is the past a different country, but the past seems a curiously innocent and optimistic country.  1961: people had survived the war, life was getting prosperous, tragedies were passionately commemorated, as above, on the eve of the Cold War. 

Stephanie Whitehands, war