The day of Leningrad’s full liberation from the fascist Blockade is being marked across the country. It was exactly 71 years ago that the most horrible 900 days for the residents of the besieged city came to an end.
Remembrance events are being held across St. Petersburg today. Thousands of residents laid flowers to burial sites at Piskarevskoye and Serafimovskoe memorial cemeteries and to all graves of the Blockade times. Alexader Odintsov with more.
Nevskiy, 14. The placard warning about the dangers of artillery strikes is covered by red carnations. It was here that remembrance events marking the 71st anniversary of Leningrad’s liberation from the Blockade kicked off in the morning. The German artillery fired from the South – from the Pulkovskie heights and Strelna. That’s why many houses on the even side of Nevskiy had those painted on back in 1943. This is the last monument of its kind to the Blockade on the city’s main avenue.
People flocked in a never-ending flow to make a bow at the main sacred place of Leningrad – the “Rodina-Mat” memorial at the Piskarevskoye cemetery. There is no bigger mass grave and more horrifying memory of that war in the city – more than 500 thousand people are buried here. The two-million population of Leningrad had decreased two-fold by the end of the 900-day siege.
Valentina Konstantinova, resident of Leningrad during the Blockade: “My grandmother and my brother lay here. We were bombed. It is painful to recall all this”.
The most terrifying days for those who survived the Leningrad siege have to be those during the winter of 1941-1942. The daily bread ration for children and elderly people was merely 125 grams. No heating or electricity. Minus 40 centigrade outside. Up to 10 thousand dead were brought here every day – those who died from hunger or cold. Among those who came to remember the dead – Georgiy Poltavchenko, Valentina Matvienko, deputies.
The minute of silence, Leningrad-style – the ticking of the pendulum meant that the heart of the besieged city was still beating.
Having remembered those who died, veterans were shown a video clip on the “Remember song”
Heartbreaking footage of 1942 winter – but trams were re-launched in the spring. The city was not giving up. In August, the Philharmonic played Shostakovich’s 7th symphony.
The “Oktybrskiy” concert hall hosted the traditional festive concert. With every year, it’s harder for those who survived the 900 days of horror to come here. But they – who overcame hunger, cold and the enemy just cannot snub this.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg: “Here in Leningrad – on the frontline, at workshops and factories, in theatres and schools – you proved to the world every day that our people would never give up, would never be enslaved”.
Today the dead were remembered by those whose lives became possible thanks to those who had survived the siege. Children lit dozens of lanterns at the square by the Anichkov Palace. As a symbol of memory for centuries. And as a symbol of that nobody and nothing has been forgotten.