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Impact of War Losing Its Effect on Youth

Published: May 7, 2014 (Issue # 1809)



  • As the generation gap widens, more youngsters are growing up without the important war memories shared by veterans.
    Photo: Alexander Belinky / spt

Almost half a million people who died during World War II lie in the 186 mass graves found at St. Petersburg’s Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery. This number includes 420,000 civilians killed from starvation, disease and enemy attacks,

Nearly every family in St. Petersburg has a relative or knows of someone buried there, with many regarding the upcoming Victory Day on May 9 as one of the year’s most significant celebrations, its importance surpassing other, more joyous celebrations such as Christmas and New Year. However, as the years pass, fewer veterans are alive to share their stories, and the younger generation is growing up with less knowledge and understanding of what happened during those years.

Galina Semenova is one of a dwindling number of people left in the city who remembers May 9, 1945. Now 79, Semenova was only 10 when she first heard news of the victory on the radio. Having lost two of the four members of her family during the war, she recalls the moment with mixed emotions; incredible happiness at the war finally being over and deep sorrow for all those who had died.

“We forgot how to cry during the Siege,” she said. “I remember I cried when my father died and then the next time I cried was on the night of May 8 when the radio, which was on all night, informed us of all the latest news about the victory. It was a mixture of emotions — grief and joy. People were sobbing as they visited and consoled one another. While we were overjoyed by the victory, we all felt the enormity of what we had lost during the war. Every household suffered,” she said.

“People remember and celebrate Victory Day with tears in their eyes. It’s a day where I feel more emotion than any other day.”

Looking back, Semenova remembers May 9, 1945, as being a bright and sunny day. Along with her classmate Katya, the two girls were on their way to school when they decided to stop by Katya’s uncle’s house.

“Everyone was out in the streets and the atmosphere was full of joy,” said Semenova. “When we arrived at Katya’s uncle’s house we were given some ‘braga’ [homemade alcohol]. I remember it being a muddy-looking liquid. Both Katya and I drank a glass and we then immediately lay on the floor and fell asleep, missing the official events at school that day. We got into a lot of trouble with our teachers since we were good students with excellent marks and they could not understand why we would miss such an important day at school. Of course, we didn’t tell them what really happened. Having not slept the night before because of the announcement, added to the alcohol, we were so exhausted that we slept until evening. This is how I first celebrated Victory Day,” she laughed.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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 Chekhov'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. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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