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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

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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