Wars and Rumors of Wars: Leningrad Was No Rumor

During my research on a book I am writing, I had the opportunity to meet a Russian citizen whose grandparents surived the Seige of Leningrad(St. Petersburg). Incredible stories that I have read about over the years entered my heart as I heard these accounts from their grandson. 

Leningrad’s horrific siege was one of the most lethal in world history. It lasted for 900 days, from September 1941 to January 1944. The city’s civilian population of almost three million refused to surrender, even though they were completely surrounded. By the first winter of the siege there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. Despite non-stop air and artillery bombardment, the city’s greatest enemies were hunger and bitter cold. Exhausted people collapsed and died. The streets were littered with dead bodies. The only life-line to the mainland was the ice of Lake Ladoga – known as the “Road of Life”.

Somehow, the city survived, its heroic resistance summed up in the motto: “Troy fell, Rome fell, Leningrad did not fall”. The blockade took the lives of at least 670,000 people, although some estimates suggest that as many as 1.5 million people died. The city became the symbol of Soviet resilience and invincibility. The siege was commemorated by the Green Belt of Glory, a unique complex of memorials along the historic frontline. You can still see warnings in St. Petersburg advising which side of the street is safe from the German shelling.

The parade this past May Day in Moscow made me reconsider why the Russians are a very proud people. They have every right to be.


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