вторник, 27 января 2009 г.

27 of January-The date of lifting of Leningrad blockade

This was undoubtedly the most tragic period in the history of the city, a period full of suffering and heroism. For everyone who lives in St. Petersburg the Blokada (the Siege) of Leningrad is an important part of the city's heritage and a painful memory for the population's older generations.

Less than two and a half months after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked and on September 8 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and the siege began. The siege lasted for a total of 900 days, from September 8 1941 until January 27 1944. The city's almost 3 million civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city's food rations reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. Despite these tragic losses and the inhuman conditions the city's war industries still continued to work and the city did not surrender.

Several hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city across Lake Ladoga via the famous "Road of Life" ("Doroga Zhizni") - the only route that connected the besieged city with the mainland. During the warm season people were ferried to the mainland, and in winter - carried by trucks that drove across the frozen lake under constant enemy bombardment.

Meanwhile, the city lived on. The treasures of the Hermitage and the suburban palaces of Petrodvorets and Pushkin were hidden in the basements of the Hermitage and St Isaac's Cathedral. Many of the city's students continued their studies and even passed their finals exams. Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his Seventh "Leningrad" Symphony and it was performed in the besieged city.

In January 1943 the Siege was broken and a year later, on January 27 1944 it was fully lifted. At least 641,000 people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put this figure closer to 800,000). Most of them were buried in mass graves in different cemeteries, with the majority in the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery, resting place to over 500,000 people and a timeless reminder of the heroic deeds of the city.


The documentary film by Sergei Loznitsa.Wartime actuality shots.Life in Leningrad during the siege.No subs needed.

3 комментария:

Chernevog комментирует...

Many people in the United States were not made aware of this history for more than a quarter of a century after it occured, when Harrison Salisbury published "The 900 Days", and even this book tends to be a bit propagandistic in its tone. It is still considered the definitive work on the topic in the western world, but many in the United States are still unaware that it even occured.

I remember reading this book when I was very young, and what shocked me more than anything, was why I had never heard of it before then. We were all taught about this war in schools, but this,which is easily one of the most tragic events in the war, was something never taught to us. I think perhaps one line about a 900 day siege at Leningrad might have been in one high school text book I had, but nothing more.

lastochka комментирует...

I have a feelling from my childhood if this war was finished only yesterday.My mom told me about it (she was only 3 years old then and her family lived in Dmitrov not far from Moscow). My father was a teenager by this time he left for partisan unit in western Bellorussia (his motherland). My mother's cousin elder children were killed during the bombing in Leningrad. I met westerneres who even didn't hear about the Stalingrad battle...It's very sad for all of us.
It's the only reason why I'm here.

Chernevog комментирует...

I know. One thing that drew me into becoming a history student was that when I was young, they might mention a little bit about other cultures and nations, but only inasmuch as when they happened to have some interaction with Western Europe.

So we would be told a little about the Viking invasion of Europe, and then it seemed that Scandanavia no longer existed until they taught us a few minutes about the Hanseatic league.

Then they would teach us that there was a man called Peter the Great, who came to learn things in Western Europe, and then Russia vanishes for a few hundred years in our lessons.

I was forever asking my teachers, but what happened to them "after" that, and I would not get very satisfactory answers, so I ended up having to go to the library and find books appropriate for my age, and read about those histories myself.

In the U.S. the way the history of World War II was taught, it seemed like the U.S. fought it single handledly, but when I later read books about "The Great Patriotic War" I learned how much the Russians suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime,how many brave soldiers and brave citizens died or were displaced, and how great a part they played in the winning of that war.

But even today, not many here know about this role.

I have met veterans of that war who did happen to meet Russian soldiers in Germany at the end of the war. They said that the Russian soldiers were very good soldiers.