The twinning of Stalingrad and Coventry became an inspiration for a friendly exchange between Perm and Oxford

In November 2020, the British Oxford and the Russian Perm held a “Perm – Oxford Friendship Week”, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the cities’ partnership, which dates back to 1995.

The week culminated with the “Oxford – Perm” videoconference, which was crowned with a most meaningful initiative – an exchange of the symbols of the participants’ friendship. These were two patchwork quilts adorned with the memorabilia of the two cities. The event in question was inspired by a similar action that took place during the Second World War: at that time, the women of the British Coventry (a city demolished by Nazi bombings) sent to the heroic Soviet Stalingrad a tablecloth embroidered with their names.

Let us be reminded that in 1940, Coventry was subjected to vicious carpet bombing by the German aviation, and therefore, many people in the UK greatly sympathized with the Soviet citizens when Hitler attacked the USSR 7 months later. Coventry women in particular sent a letter of support to the women of Stalingrad – an industrial city like their own. The message went: “From this city scarred and ravaged by the arch enemy of civilisation, our hearts go out to you, who now face slaughter and suffering even more fearful.”

At that time, no one could yet imagine the full extent of the upcoming slaughter and suffering our city would have to go through in the nearest future. Still, Coventry residents closely followed the development of the Battle of Stalingrad, and in the February of 1943 went on to raise funds for the restoration of Stalingrad. This initiative was reflected in the Coventry Tablecloth, which is still carefully preserved in the “Stalingrad Battle” Panorama Museum: it is embroidered with the names of all those who took part in the funds collection, as well as the words “Better a small help than a lot of pity”. This event is widely regarded as the one that set the foundations for the whole international twinning movement.

In 2008 году, Volgograd residents prepared a return gift for their English twin-city – the “Stalingrad Tablecloth” saying “From the forever grateful Stalingrad-Volgograd on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of our unique friendship”. The cloth was adorned with the names of the participants of the Battle of Stalingrad and the honorary citizens of Volgograd.

In 2020, the year of the 75th anniversary of the Victory, the professional seamstresses from Perm followed the exciting example of Coventry and Stalingrad and spent several months creating a similar gift for their British twin-city. Their patchwork quilt features a bear (from Perm’s official city emblem) walking towards a bull (which, in its term, is the symbol of Oxford).

Fifteen craftswomen of Oxford prepared a gift in return: on their quilt, one can see the most famous things that Oxford is associated with: starting with the “Alice in Wonderland” and the illustrious university itself, and ending with the BMW-mini and Harry Potter.

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