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Last Battle of Siege of Leningrad Re-Enacted

Published: January 29, 2008 (Issue # 1343)



  • Enthusiasts recreate a World War II battle between Soviet and German armies near St. Petersburg on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Siege of Leningrad.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg on Saturday celebrated the 64th anniversary of the complete end of the Siege of Leningrad perpetrated on the city by Adolf Hitlers army during World War II.

To mark the date, residents laid flowers at the places connected to the 1941-1944 blockade, including a memorial at 14 Nevsky Prospekt; on Victory Square (Ploshchad Pobedy); and the Piskaryovskoye and Serafimovskokye cemeteries where many of the hundreds of thousands of city residents who perished in the Siege are buried.

Near the village of Nikolskoye outside St. Petersburg, more than 200 people took part in a re-enactment of the battle between Soviet and German soldiers that freed Leningrad from the siege. About 2,000 people gathered to see the performance.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who visited the city on Sunday, also took part in events dedicated to the celebration of the date. Medvedev, who is a native of St. Petersburg, said the government would allocate 2 billion rubles ($81.2 million) to provide siege survivors with apartments.

The Siege of Leningrad by German troops lasted for 872 days beginning Sept. 8, 1941 through Jan. 27, 1944, although in popular memory this has been rounded up to 900 days. The blockade was broken on Jan. 18, 1943, but it took another year before the Germans were forced to retreat. It is thought that about one million people died as a result of the siege around 3 percent in bombings, and 97 percent of starvation. The courage of the people of Leningrad which helped them to survive the siege is one of the most remarkable episodes of World War II and the event is honored with respect in Russia today.

The German armys blockade cut food supplies to the city and on Sept.15, 1941, a week after it had begun, the city first cut rations. By November people began to experience real hunger. At that time the first cases of people fainting from hunger were registered and the first deaths.

At that time it was very hard to deliver food by air, and a connection with the rest of Russia across Lake Ladoga to the east ended as it froze for winter. All transport links were under the constant fire of the enemy.

On Nov. 20, 1941, city authorities reduced the ration to 250 grams of bread for working people daily and 125 grams for children under 12, white-collar workers and the unemployed. At the same time 50 percent of the bread was made of waste, and the bread was almost impossible to eat.

By December, death from hunger had become widespread. People died in the streets. A siege survivor described the time in the following way.

They now die so easily: first people lose interest in everything, then go to bed and they never wake up, she said.

Dead bodies laid on the ground for a long time because often there was nobody to take them away.

The mortality rate increased with severe winter weather in 1941-42 when fuel supplies also almost came to an end, and there was no heating in apartment buildings.

In January 1942, more than 4,000 people died every day. On some days as many as 7,000 people died. Men died more quickly than women (for every 100 deaths 63 were men and 37 women).

However, when the ice on Lake Ladoga became thick enough, supplies were transported across it from the rest of Russia. In February the situation in the city improved slightly. In May all the people who were able to do anything came out to clean the streets. In the first year of the blockade about 780,000 people died.

In 1942 the situation improved and trams even began running in the city again.

In January 1943 the Red Army broke the ring of the blockade and built a railway and road link into the city, and in January 1944 the Soviet Army drove the German Army back to a distance of 100 kilometers.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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