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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. Petersburgs 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 years 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. Its 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 Katyas uncles house.

Everyone was out in the streets and the atmosphere was full of joy, said Semenova. When we arrived at Katyas uncles 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 didnt 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

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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