Twin Cities: How the Massive Destruction of World War II Lead to the Cities Friendship Program - Stories on TJ

Cooperation between opposing countries in length in 75 years, which survived the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR.

Pointers from the distance to the town of San Francisco Photo Culver City Sister City Committee

Sometimes, when describing some kind of city, the wording "city-twin" is found, pointing to some connection between cities. It looks especially strange when it concerns the interaction between the Russian province with the American metropolis or the Chinese depths with the French regional capital. The roots of this phenomenon are far back at the beginning of the Second World War, when the USSR sharply needed the assistance of the allies, and continues until modern times.

The beginning of international friendship on the ruins of cities

From August 1940, the English city of Coventry, who produced 25% of British aircraft, regularly bombed German aviation, during which the troops destroyed 4,000 houses and killed about 400 people. Under the bombing came Cathedral Cathedral - the main attraction, and the city became the third by the number of losses in the UK. The scale of destruction and mountain of citizens was compared with another city-ruins - Stalingrad.

In 1941, various organizations appeared in Coventry, whose goal was the humanitarian assistance of the USSR, and the second November of the same year the Council of the city formed the Anglo-Soviet Unity Committee. It included the patron saint of the central diocese and the head of the Barklaev bank. Later, partner countries organized a cycle of events devoted to the strengthening of friendship of Great Britain and Russia: the orchestra accompanied the demonstration that promotes the unity of two peoples.

The battle for Stalingrad has strengthened these moods. The newspapers wrote: "Now Stalingrad is a gray, smoking the city, over which fire bursts at night and day, and the ashes flies in the air. Stalingrad is a city burned in battle, bastion created from people. "

Each week of successful defense [Stalingrad] increases the popularity of Russians. Large anxiety and dissatisfaction with the form of our apparent inaction are expressed.

Breten Breicken

Minister of Information Great Britain

Assistance was not limited to words. In 1942, the federation of the miners decided that each participant would additionally contribute 2.5 shillings to the USSR Assistance Fund. In the same Coventry, at least 20 thousand pounds were collected for these purposes. Soon there was a committee of the Anglo-Soviet friendship and the Committee of Friendship with Stalingrad. The latter engaged in the establishment of friendship between residents of cities. Behind this followed the exchange of symbolic gifts.

In 1943, Stalingrad women wrote 36 thousand letters to the residents of Coventry in gratitude for their support. In response, a resident of Coventry sewed a tablecloth, on which the faces of women who helped the city were depicted. On the canvas embroidered "better small help than a lot of regret." She was sent to Stalingrad. From this gesture, as it is considered, the history of Stalingrad and Coventry as cities-twigration began.

On April 15, 1945, the wife of Prime Minister UK Winston Churchill arrived in Stalingrad - Clementina Churchill. She headed the British Committee of the Foundation for the Assistance of Russia and recalled: "The terrible picture of destruction turned before our eyes. My first thought was that it looks like the central part of Coventry or the ruins of St. Peter's Cathedral in London, with the difference that chaos and destruction seemed imminent. " During the visit, Churchill passed a part of the medical equipment of the Ilyich hospital in the Krasnoktyabrsky district of Stalingrad.

After the defeat of Germany, Dresden became a sister city with Coventry and Stalingrad, the historical center of which was completely destroyed by the bombing of the United States and allies. All three cities were in ruins, and this similarity formed one of the main principles of fraternization - it must come from common features. Therefore, after the war, many former enemies became sworn brothers: the English Ridin began to cooperate with the German Dusseldorf, and Rome and Paris became friends with the motto "Only Rome is worthy of Paris, only Paris is worthy of Rome."

Cities should have a similar history, infrastructure, population. There are also such parameters as developed industry and tourism.

Georgy Baranov

Secretariat of the International Association "Twin Cities"

In 1956, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the People-to-People program. In 1957, France established the World Federation of Twin Cities, and in 1958, after the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the authorities formed the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. The goal of these organizations was considered "to strengthen international understanding and friendship."

How twinning works

After World War II, a society was formed in the world, the main problem of which was not only the division of the world into the spheres of influence of the USA and the USSR, but also the possibility of a nuclear war between them. This led to the strengthening of popular diplomacy, which opposed itself to the games of big politicians. In democratic countries, the number of political parties, international organizations, trade unions of women or youth, as well as national peace committees, friendship and cultural relations societies has grown.

The 20th Congress of the CPSU defined the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as the principle “ peaceful coexistence of socialist and capitalist states ". After that, the participation of young people in public diplomacy and the movement of sister cities became closely connected with the work of friendship societies that appeared in many cities.

20th Congress of the CPSU Photo by RIA Novosti

One of the main ways in which the Sister Cities program interacts has become "educational tourism", and young people have often become its participants. In 1969, students from Lanchester College of Technology from Coventry came to Volgograd for a language training. They studied Russian and read texts for the Department of English, and in their free time they studied Soviet life: they attended excursions, met with activists, went to the cinema and theaters. In 1970, a return visit followed: three students from Volgograd went to Coventry.

Young people who have visited the Soviet Union have the warmest memories and a positive idea of ​​our country.



students who participated in the delegation to Coventry

In 1989, Petrozavodsk and the American Duluth signed an agreement on academic and scientific cooperation. In the summer of the same year, PetrSU and the Technical College exchanged students to get acquainted with the Faculty of Industrial and Civil Engineering and practice in university construction teams. And the English Salisbury exchanged knowledge in cyber security with the Estonian Tartu.

Another area of ​​the sister cities program concerns the economy. According to the idea, it was supposed to be approximately at the same level so that a strong connection was established between cities. According to this logic, Quebec has become the "brother" of St. Petersburg - both are actively developing the manufacturing industry, which generates entrepreneurship and job growth.

Often, cities open international companies and conduct internships for specialists. The American city of Charleston makes several million dollars annually for the local budget at the Italian Culture Festival, which began because of the twinning relationship. Within the framework of the program, there is also a cultural exchange: sometimes it is an exchange of delegations, and sometimes it is something material. On the French Tour, there is a replica of a statue from their sister city of Minneapolis.

The very same statue, reminiscent of the traditions of Minneapolis, in France

The social aspect of the program was to get acquainted with the culture of the twin cities. During the week of Soviet-Finnish friendship in 1959, a delegation from the Finnish Kemi came to Volgograd. Then the delegation planted trees on the Mamayev Kurgan - as a sign of the friendship of the cities. “We are confident that the trees will also decorate the park, and we hope that they will grow well and become a symbol of friendship between the youth of Kem and Stalingrad. However, our friendship will develop and grow stronger faster than these two trees, ”said the representative of the delegation.

Some of the major politicians of the present time are also associated with the sister cities. In the 1980s, future American presidential runner, Bernie Sanders, served as mayor of Berlingoton. He was concerned with the problem of nuclear disarmament, as well as the less popular topic of cooperation with the USSR, rather than confrontation, as then-President Ronald Reagan wished. In an attempt to establish contact with the Soviet side, he became interested in the program of the twin cities.

Ironically, several cities, including Burlington, were ordered to prepare evacuation plans in the event of a nuclear attack. Instead, Sanders contacted the organization of the sister cities and offered to conclude a treaty of friendship with the Soviet city. After a telephone conversation with the head of the sister cities in the USSR, Yuri Menshikov, Sanders was offered friendship with Yaroslavl.

In June 1987, an American politician with his colleagues and wife went on this "very strange honeymoon." For the Soviet authorities to allow Yaroslavl to become Burlington's twin brothers, Sanders wrote a positive feature about the trip to the city's newspaper. “The people there look happy and satisfied,” he wrote. The cities are still friends.

For a long time, the connection of twin cities remained indifferent to the central government, usually local activists and authorities themselves decided with whom and what kind of contacts to maintain. However, in the 1970s, the Central Committee of the CPSU took control of them: decisions on concluding a friendship treaty began to be considered not only by the leadership of the republic, but also by the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Abroad, together with the party. They decided whether an agreement with a particular country was expedient in terms of foreign policy. The Association for Relations between Soviet and Foreign Cities believed that the most important task of these relations was to show the Soviet life in the best light.

The case with post-war Japan is indicative. For cooperation, the authorities created special committees, which were managed by the Central Committee of the CPSU. They were created only for Japan, with other countries the request went directly to the party. She approved events and cultural contacts. All correspondence went through the party organs. Officials from the departments read letters from abroad and gave instructions on what to do next.


Decisions on communication with foreign delegations were also made by the party. Deputy Chairman of the Volgograd City Council Anatoly Zemlyansky wrote to the USSR Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko if a delegation from Coventry could be invited to celebrate the liberation of Stalingrad. Sister cities were also required to report their contacts with foreign cities to the Foreign Ministry.

The lack of independence of the Soviet cities under the program of twin cities was noticed by international organizations. In addition, the Soviet cities changed the charter of the World Federation of Twin Cities, which the other members of the union did not like. One of the leaders of the WFTU wrote "We all proclaim that the strength and identity of the WFTU should be aimed at establishing direct contact between all cities, and through them - between all people of the world in the name of developing prosperity through cooperation."

Twin cities in the modern world

After the collapse of the USSR, contacts between the twin cities did not stop. In the 1990s, St. Petersburg began to actively cooperate with Milan, cultural events were organized annually between the cities, and Dante Alighieri's society was opened in the city, which studies the work of the Italian poet. In 2006, the cities signed a cooperation agreement between the St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation and the University of Rome "Roma-TRE".

Twin city organizations also developed. In 1991, the International Association "Twin Cities" (IAPG) was established in Tver, which became the legal successor of the Soviet organization. She deals with sister cities in Russia, and her president is Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region. In 2018, protesters against landfills in the Moscow region demanded his resignation.

In 2004, France organized the United Cities and Local Governments. The organization brings together more than 3.5 million municipalities around the world, helping with the economy, migration and urban governance. To this end, the organization publishes a magazine with practices and holds summits where the problems of twin cities are discussed.

Map of connections between sister cities Diagram from the study by Andreas Kaltenbrunner

Foreign policy, which remains the main engine of the program, has not gone anywhere from the topic of twin cities. Krasnoyarsk is actively used to improve relations with China, for example, Harbin in 2003 and Changchuch in 2014. At the same time, Krasnoyarsk was losing its twin cities - in 2016, it unilaterally terminated the friendship agreement. Kiev did the same, breaking its friendship with Moscow.

Leading countries by the number of sister cities:

  • Mexico - 202 cities;
  • Japan - 199 cities;
  • China - 164 cities;
  • Germany - 119 cities;
  • France - 102 cities;
  • Italy - 89 cities;
  • Russia - 77 cities.

In 2016, American twin cities program researchers published a progress report for the 2014-2015 project. It follows from the data that the US economy annually earns more than $ 525 million from the program. And 85% of the surveyed representatives of the sister cities of New Zealand called the program useful. However, the researchers believe that the total benefit from the program is difficult to calculate unambiguously, since it is difficult to calculate the profit from different types of economic activities of the twin cities.

In response to TJ's inquiry about the success of the twin cities program, the Moscow secretariat of the IAPG responded that various events are constantly taking place between the cities, but they had to be interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, the office answers, the level of cooperation between cities is growing, and twinning, as in the past, remains a way of "developing friendly relations and international relations."

58 years ago, the World Federation of Twin Cities was founded in Aix-les-Bains (France). The creation of this international non-governmental organization was initiated by the representatives of the twin cities. tells about what this status means for settlements and what it gives.

What are sister cities?

Table indicating the location of the sister cities in Zalaegerszeg (Hungary)
A table indicating the location of the sister cities in Zalaegerszeg (Hungary). Photo: cc-by-sa 3.0 / Pilgab

Twin cities (or twin cities) are two cities that have constant cooperation in various fields - culture, sports, history and others. Sister cities can be located either in two different states, or in one, which happens less often.

Interaction between cities is expressed in the exchange of delegations, art and sports teams, exhibitions, literature, films, photographic materials, etc. In addition, the twinning status implies assistance to the settlement that suffered from natural disasters, man-made disasters, etc.

The history of the appearance of the term

The term “twin cities” appeared in 1944, this was the first name for two cities that were almost completely destroyed in World War II - British Coventry and Soviet Stalingrad. Residents of Coventry prepared a tablecloth for the Stalingrad residents, on which were embroidered the names of 830 women of the city and the words: "Better a little help than a lot of regret." This cloth of matter became a symbol of the unity and friendship of the inhabitants of cities and, together with the collected money, was transferred to the USSR. Today the tablecloth is kept in the "Battle of Stalingrad" panorama museum. In 2008, the residents of Volgograd created the “Stalingrad Tablecloth” to be handed over to Coventry in honor of the 65th anniversary of the twinning relationship between the two settlements.


World Federation of Twin Cities

On April 28, 1957, representatives of the twin cities created the World Federation of Twin Cities (WFTU). The purpose of the organization is to promote the development of friendly relations between settlements of different countries in the following areas:

  • economic and cultural cooperation;
  • education;
  • the medicine;
  • environmental Protection.

The organization brings together over 3,500 cities in more than 160 countries. The headquarters of the organization is located in Paris. World Sister Cities Day has been celebrated annually since 1963 on the last Sunday in April.

See also:

Exactly 60 years ago, on April 28, 1957, the World Federation of Twin Cities (WFFG) was created - an international non-governmental organization whose goal is to strengthen friendly ties between cities of different states. This organization brings together over 3,500 cities in more than 160 countries. Since 1963, at the initiative of the WFTU, on the last Sunday of April, the World Day of Sister Cities has been celebrated. City + has found out what "twin cities" are, which cities have become "relatives" of St. Petersburg and why it is needed.

What are sister cities?

Sister cities (or twin cities) - these are two cities that constantly cooperate with each other in various fields - culture, sports, history and others. Sister cities can be located either in two different states, or in one, which happens less often. Cooperation between cities is manifested as follows: the exchange of delegations, art and sports teams, exhibitions, literature, films, photographs about the life of cities and information about the experience of urban management. In addition, the twinning status implies support for the settlement that suffered from natural disasters, man-made disasters, etc.

The concept of "twin cities" appeared in 1944, and the first "couple" were two cities that were badly destroyed in World War II - British Coventry and Soviet Stalingrad. On November 14, 1940, during the Battle of England, German aircraft carried out a massive raid on the city. The historic center of Coventry was almost completely destroyed by bombs and fires. The continuous bombardment of Coventry continued for eleven hours. In total, the Germans bombed this English city 41 times: the military even had a new term "co-venture" - to destroy the city with air strikes.

Stalingrad was destroyed by the Germans with the same method, but even more brutally. The Battle of Stalingrad became a turning point not only in the course of the Great Patriotic War, but also in the relations of the USSR with the world: after the victory, the activities of public organizations in the USA, England, Canada, advocating more effective assistance to the Soviet Union, intensified.

Residents of Coventry prepared a tablecloth for the Stalingrad residents, on which were embroidered the names of 830 women in the city and the phrase: "Better a little help than a lot of regret." The tablecloth became a symbol of the unity and friendship of the inhabitants of the cities and, together with the collected money, was transferred to the USSR. Today this artifact is kept in the "Battle of Stalingrad" panorama museum. In 2008, the residents of Volgograd created the "Stalingrad Tablecloth" and donated it to Coventry in honor of the 65th anniversary of twinning between the cities.

World Federation of Twin Cities

The World Federation of Twin Cities was founded on April 28, 1957 in the French city of Aix-les-Bains. In 1962, at the initiative of the organization, it was decided to celebrate every year on the last Sunday of April World Day of Twin Cities. In 1970, the WFTU united up to a thousand cities in more than 50 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. By 2000, the federation united over 3,500 cities in more than 160 states. More than a hundred cities in Russia have already established contacts with more than 200 cities in the countries of the world.

The goal of the World Federation of Twin Cities is the development of friendly ties between cities of different countries in the field of economic and cultural cooperation, education, medicine, environmental protection, etc. The federation includes both individual cities and associations or other city unions. The goals and objectives of the WFTU are set out in the charter - the so-called "Charter of Twin Cities" and in the "Political Program of Twin Cities".

The emblem of the World Federation of Twin Cities consists of two connected rings, signifying the union, and the key located between them, symbolizing the city in heraldry.

Twin cities of St. Petersburg

The Finnish city of Turku became the first with whom Leningrad became related. When choosing, the Soviet side put forward one criterion: twinning in their country should be approximately equal to Leningrad in importance. This suggested that it should be a former capital, at least a second city, and preferably with access to the sea. The presence of universities and various museums was also considered an advantage. Thus, soon Manchester, Hamburg, Shanghai, Havana, Osaka, Milan were among Leningrad's twin cities.

Soon, this rigorous selection led to a slowdown in the pace of friendly relations — suitable candidates in Europe quickly ran out. Then it was decided to turn to the resources of other continents, and Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Melbourne appeared on the list of twin cities. It is curious that there you can also find the American namesake of the city on the Neva - St. Petersburg, located in Florida.

With the collapse of the USSR, strict rules disappeared, which immediately led to an avalanche "brother" of St. Petersburg in the 90s and 2000s. For 20 years, about fifty new names was added to the list, including Russian (for example, Petrozavodsk). Now St. Petersburg has a twin cities in St. Petersburg, with a complete list can be found here. However, not always, the Petersburgers manage to clearly answer the question that the Northern Capital relates to the question and, for example, the small Kyrgyz city of Osh - whether active economic cooperation has a place or close cultural ties. Despite this, the expansion of the geography of friendly connections has a positive effect on the prestige of the city, strengthens his brand.

Photo: A. Vaganov / City +

Text: Julia Sevostyanova

Perhaps you heard such a combination of words like cities-twin. You may even know some examples of such settlements. But that this status gives and why he exists in general, tells the team Goru.Travel.

What are sister cities and what are they for?

First of all, let's figure it out with what these "cities are twinners". And everything is quite simple - these are cities between which friendly connections are installed. They are expressed in mutual cooperation in familiarization with life, culture, local customs and traditions of another city.

So the witners can exchange delegations, exhibitions, films, literature that will help familiarize themselves with the life of another city, as well as creative teams.

But this status gives "privileges" not only in the field of culture. He also means trust in the city, willingness to cooperate, strengthening ties in the tourist sphere and the business community.

It is believed that the witners cannot become the cities that are in one country, but in each case there are their exceptions. So in 2014, such cooperation was established with Sevastopol.

What are sister cities and what are they for?

The history of this interaction takes the beginning of the beginning in 1944. Residents of Coventry (United Kingdom) prepared a tablecloth, on which the names of 830 women Coventry were embroidered, Lady Mayaineces Mrs. Emily Smith, as well as the inscription "Better small help than a lot of regret." This gift, as well as some monetary assistance went to Stalingrad. In 2008, Volgograds made a response gift-tablecloth in honor of the anniversary of friendly relations (65 years old).

Why are these two cities? The fact is that both settlements are quite tragic vulgar. During World War II, Coventry was also very destroyed.

In 1957, representatives of the twin cities created the World Federation of Porn Cities. At the moment it includes more than 3,500 members from more than 160 countries.

The list of such thorny cities can be huge. For example, Moscow at all about 85 twin cities. Here are just some of them: Vienna, Rome, London, Berlin, Seoul.

Do you know the twinings of your cities? Write in the comments!

Not only are the special forms of social and spiritual proximity to give the special forms of social and spiritual intimacy. So he invented for himself throughout the history, various options for related ties with themselves like. Native people are always nice, you will agree. It is better to endure them with all the shortcomings and eccentrics, rather than worry because they are not and will not.

And once in the calendar of significant dates, the World Day of Porn Cities appeared. He falls on the last Sunday of April and is noted on the initiative of the World Federation of Rounded Cities, founded in 1957. Correct cities are called cities located in the territories of different states and who have established regular friendly communications among themselves.

And the precedent for the phenomenon looked like this ...

Coventry after the bombing
Coventry after the bombing Photo: Depositphotos

Walked 1942th , in the midst of the war. The Germans bombed Stalingrad mercilessly. A telegram from English Coventry, also affected by the Nazi bombings, flew to the residents and defenders of the city. The British expressed their admiration for the courage and resilience of the Stalingrad people and offered a hand of friendship.

Some time later, they sent their first present to the inhabitants of Stalingrad - a tablecloth with the names of more than 800 women, residents of Coventry, embroidered on it. Each of them embroidered their name by hand. Together with the tablecloth, the Englishwomen handed over the money collected for the Stalingrad residents as part of a charity event.

Stalingrad and Coventry steel the first twin cities , or, as they are also called, twin cities.

The history of the holiday has developed - the movement of fraternization of cities very quickly spread throughout the world.

Women of Stalingrad sent a book for women to Coventry with messages from 36,000 women
Women of Stalingrad sent a book for women to Coventry with messages from 36,000 participants in women's conventions Photo: Source

Sister cities should be distinguished from partner cities. The latter refers to the cities between which agreements on partnership have been concluded. In most cases, they imply only economic cooperation on a number of joint projects or one of them.

An agreement on sister-city relations is far from always pursuing economic benefits - after all, kindred feelings cannot be measured in money. Collaboration is most often in the educational, cultural, social or sports field. Sister cities have the right to apply for support of joint endeavors to international and European organizations.

A sword specially made by order of Churchill arrived in Stalingrad from Coventry
A sword specially made by order of Churchill arrived in Stalingrad from Coventry Photo: Source

Interestingly, in America, for example, sister cities are usually called sister-cities , that is, not "brothers" but "sisters". There is also a definition twin-cities - twin cities, but it is rarely used.

Residents of sister cities often visit each other, exchange visits of special delegations, hold joint conferences, including scientific, sports competitions, celebrate various holidays together - well, at least the same Twin Cities Day ... If one of them got into trouble in the form of a social or natural disaster (terrorists seized, a hurricane struck there etc. ), the other will promptly send containers with humanitarian aid to the victims. This is the ideal, of course. Because there are cases when all brotherly long-distance love comes down to sluggish correspondence between schoolchildren and university students and rare reports about the life of a foreign "brother" in the local press.

Sister cities: what are they for? Dedicated to the World Day of Sister Cities ...
Photo: Source

At the beginning of the 60s, the Soviet Union created its own organization to manage twin cities - the Association for Relations with Soviet and Foreign Cities. She entered the WFTU (World Federation of Twin Cities) as a collective member. Through her efforts, about 300 cities of the former USSR have found "relatives" in 71 countries of the world. And in December 1991, its functions were transferred to a new social structure - the International Association of Twin Cities (IAPG). She deals primarily with the cities of the CIS member states, helping them to coordinate external relations within the framework of the Commonwealth.

As already mentioned, fraternisate among themselves is mainly cities from two (or more) different countries. Twin cities within the same state are an exception to the rule. And this exception applies only to Germany. The cities of the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany became related to each other during the period when the country was divided into two worlds by the Berlin Wall. But they managed to become so close that they did not want to give up the status of twin cities even after the restoration of Germany as a single power. These are primarily Heimnitz and Dusseldorf, Eisenhüttenstadt and Saarlouis, as well as other German cities.

Sister cities: what are they for? Dedicated to the World Day of Sister Cities ...
Photo: Source

In the 80s and 90s of the last century, the movement of twinned cities was downright massive. Even some unremarkable provincial town tried to acquire two, three, or even a dozen freshly baked "brothers" at once.

After 2000, the fashion for fraternization quietly subsided. It would seem, for good? An, no. More recently, for example, an agreement of intent to enter into twinning relations between Bethlehem and Suzdal was officially signed, since both are closely related to the development of Christianity.

Sister cities: what are they for? Dedicated to the World Day of Sister Cities ...
Photo: Source

Apparently, the classic was right, whose words are now put into the mouth of the hero of the sensational film. I mean Gogol and Taras Bulba. This is from there:

“There are no bonds holier than comradeship! The father loves his child, the mother loves her child, the child loves the father and mother. But that's not it, brothers: the beast also loves its child. But only one person can become related by kindness by soul, and not by blood. "

More soul mates from different parts of the world for you!

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