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City Remembers Siege of Leningrad

Published: January 26, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • City residents cleaning a street during the first winter in the besieged city.
    Photo: Vsevolod Tarasevich / Wikimedia Commons

  • The corner of Ulitsa Mayakovskaya and Nevsky Prospekt during the blockade.
    Photo: Boris Kudoyarov / Wikimedia Commons

  • Three men burying victims of the siege at the Volkovo cemetery.
    Photo: Boris Kudoyarov / Wikimedia Commons

In fall of 1941, Antonina Vetikova, who was then 14 years old, stopped stammering — a problem that she had suffered since early childhood. Ironically, Vetikova was cured of her speech impediment due to the fear she experienced during an air raid on the peaceful residents of a village outside Leningrad where her family lived.

“There were no bomb shelters in our village and when the planes began shooting at us, we all just ran into a neighboring forest to hide,” Vetikova, 86, told The St. Petersburg Times on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Blockade, to be celebrated on Jan. 27.

“The planes flew so low that we could see the faces and goggles of the Nazi pilots. I still can’t forget how they smiled as they shot at us!” Vetikova said.

When she returned home after one such air attack, however, she realized that she had lost her stammer.

“I’m even ashamed to speak of it, but it’s a fact,” she said.

You may also be interested in: New Book Challenges Leningrad Siege Myths

Vetikova was one of around a million people who lived through both the Nazi air raids on Leningrad and the experience of the Blockade. Although she lived 36 kilometers outside of the city, the area of her residence was also cut off from the rest of the country by Nazi troops.

“The situation in our village was better than in Leningrad itself because we had peat to burn for warmth and we had easy access to water. The situation with food, however, was terrible. We ate anything we could find: Pine bark, potato peels and that famous 125 grams of Blockade bread,” Vetikova said.

The siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military operation undertaken by Germany’s Army Group North against Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was then known. The siege started on Sept. 8, 1941, when the last road connecting the city to the rest of the country was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on Jan. 18, 1943, the siege was finally lifted just over a year later, on Jan. 27, 1944. Lasting 872 days, the Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest and most destructive blockades in history and overwhelmingly the most costly in terms of casualties.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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