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City Remembers Siege of Leningrad

Published: January 26, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • City residents cleaning a street during the first winter in the besieged city.
    Photo: Vsevolod Tarasevich / Wikimedia Commons

  • The corner of Ulitsa Mayakovskaya and Nevsky Prospekt during the blockade.
    Photo: Boris Kudoyarov / Wikimedia Commons

  • Three men burying victims of the siege at the Volkovo cemetery.
    Photo: Boris Kudoyarov / Wikimedia Commons

In fall of 1941, Antonina Vetikova, who was then 14 years old, stopped stammering a problem that she had suffered since early childhood. Ironically, Vetikova was cured of her speech impediment due to the fear she experienced during an air raid on the peaceful residents of a village outside Leningrad where her family lived.

There were no bomb shelters in our village and when the planes began shooting at us, we all just ran into a neighboring forest to hide, Vetikova, 86, told The St. Petersburg Times on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Blockade, to be celebrated on Jan. 27.

The planes flew so low that we could see the faces and goggles of the Nazi pilots. I still cant forget how they smiled as they shot at us! Vetikova said.

When she returned home after one such air attack, however, she realized that she had lost her stammer.

Im even ashamed to speak of it, but its a fact, she said.

You may also be interested in: New Book Challenges Leningrad Siege Myths

Vetikova was one of around a million people who lived through both the Nazi air raids on Leningrad and the experience of the Blockade. Although she lived 36 kilometers outside of the city, the area of her residence was also cut off from the rest of the country by Nazi troops.

The situation in our village was better than in Leningrad itself because we had peat to burn for warmth and we had easy access to water. The situation with food, however, was terrible. We ate anything we could find: Pine bark, potato peels and that famous 125 grams of Blockade bread, Vetikova said.

The siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military operation undertaken by Germanys Army Group North against Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was then known. The siege started on Sept. 8, 1941, when the last road connecting the city to the rest of the country was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on Jan. 18, 1943, the siege was finally lifted just over a year later, on Jan. 27, 1944. Lasting 872 days, the Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest and most destructive blockades in history and overwhelmingly the most costly in terms of casualties.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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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