January 27 marks a big day in St Petersburg, the former Leningrad. It has exactly been 75 years since the complete breakthrough of the Blockade. A day on which its people could finally see the light again, after three years of hell.
The Siege of Leningrad was where courage and perseverance of the human soul were tested in its most extreme form. People learning about the course of events in Leningrad those days, often feel nothing but deep respect.
Creativity in making ends meet, and protecting the historical heritage of the city was pushed to limits during the Blockade. Sometimes dark limits, with cases of cannibalism reported.#Enjoy your Freedom
For 872 days, the inhabitants of Leningrad were cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by the superior Nazi army that took over country after country. The strategy for conquering Leningrad was different, by continuing daily bombings and complete isolation from the outer world, the city was thought to starve to death and surrender soon. But magically, Leningrad managed to resist one of the most destructive sieges in history.
The first winter of the Blockade in 1942 was immediately extremely cold and harsh – even for the standards of Leningrad, notorious for its severe winters. A small piece of bread, not weighing more than 125 grams, was the only food provided on a daily basis. And there was no end in sight, just hope and the will to survive. A few other products were received every 10 days, in the smallest quantities. Therefore, the Russian people know what rationing bread is, and in St Petersburg bread has logically earned special respect.
Creativity in making ends meet, and protecting the historical heritage of the city was pushed to limits during the Blockade. Sometimes dark limits, with cases of cannibalism reported. The effects of this hardship can hardly be overestimated today. Not only in St Petersburg, where the splendid 18th-century architecture is still shining. But probably also in Europe, we know today. A defeat in the strategically important Leningrad could have turned world history upside down. The people of Leningrad fought till the bitter end and turned out to be able to stop the advance of the superior Nazi army.
For a deeper understanding of the Siege of Leningrad, two places in St Petersburg stand out.
The Museum of the Defense of Leningrad provides a touching journey through those terrible times, telling about the life of the people of Leningrad during the Blockade, as illustrated by original objects and numerous artefacts. After a renovation, the museum will reopen in May 2019. With most illustrations in Russian, a Russian speaking guide is recommended. We can help you there.
The other important sight is the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, where you can find the documentary and art exposition devoted to the Blockade – usually, you get to see a glimpse of this colossal monument on the way from the airport. Naturally both places are mentioned on the Streetwise Map of St Petersburg.
Fortunately, the war has ended long ago but walking the streets of St Petersburg you still might get to see an old lady who lived through those days. She stands out in her way of acting, stronger than anyone – a Heroic Defender of Leningrad. Thank you.