The Battle of Stalingrad was the pivotal battle in 1942 of World War II when the Soviet forces finally curtailed the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Axis troops. Once Stalingrad held out, the war began to turn for the Allies. After seven months and approximately two million deaths, the Germans were overcome, surrendered in the city, and were marched off to horrible death and work camps in the Russian wintry wastelands. Though Stalingrad was reduced to rubble, unbelievably, the iconic Barmaley Fountain was somehow still standing in the midst of the ruins—joyful children holding hands while singing and dancing in a circle—while the city burned to ash behind them.
The battle began when six hundred German bombers pummeled the city, until in February of the next year, the city had been shredded and left a shell of bombed out wreckage. The starved, ill, frozen surviving troops fought it out from building to building while the citizens of the city who were still alive helped their soldiers gain victory by sabotaging the Germans and providing any food, blankets, or supplies they could to bring victory for their people.
This battle plays an important part in my second book of the Nephilim Redemption Series, so I learned a lot about it in order to write Chloe’s Watcher. Panahasi, the Nephilim antagonist—Chloe’s “watcher”—finds himself in a foxhole in the final days of this battle after his demon father, Satarel, exiles him to the living hell of war. The things I learned about conditions by reading histories, biographies, and personal accounts were shocking to say the least. And though we have been astounded by many stories of privation and survival from history after unthinkable atrocities (think Unbroken and Corrie Ten Boom), I still find it mindboggling what one human will do to another, and then what individuals can endure to survive and make it home. I conveyed what I could of the real battle and obscene conditions in the story, hoping to create authentic circumstances and setting, while continuing with the story of Panahasi. Putting him in such horrid conditions helped make him a more sympathetic character, which I intentionally wanted, because completely good Good Guys and all bad Bad Guys are boring. Stories need tension and discomfort, unexpected twists and unplanned loyalties.
If you haven’t read the series yet, I’ll just stick a little plug in here since it’s this day in history. Begin with Book 1 though. I recently had a reviewer start with Book 2 because I wanted to see how it worked as a stand-alone book for a reader. She really needed Book 1 to know what to do with Book 2. And right now I’m about to finish up Book 3 to get it ready for a launch hopefully in October. It’s been very fun to write (except on the days I was choking on the elephant)! Chloe’s Odyssey takes Chloe all over history and she meets some interesting folks while getting herself into a lot of perilous predicaments. It should be a wild ride!
(If you’d like to see a picture on the Barmaley Fountain, I have some info here.)
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