Should Russia Have Given Up Leningrad?

Should Russia have given up its stance on Leningrad in WWII? That seemingly simple question released a maelstrom of reactions in Russia just recently.

  The end of the siege of Leningrad, placed to be one of history’s most destructive and longest, not to mention costliest in terms of casualties, sieges, celebrated its 70th anniversary last January 27. In line of this, Dozhd, a Russian independent TV station, conducted a supposed to be innocent poll which questioned the decisions reached on that WWII event; they did not expect that it would stir up a great controversy.

Dohzd let out this question: they asked if the Russians should have given up Leningrad – now St. Petersburg – to the Nazis to save the countless of lives lost throughout the blockade. About 1,500,000 soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the two-and-a-half siege and another 1,400,000 civilians, mostly women and children, had to be evacuated with a majority of this number dying while on evacuation because of the ceaseless bombardment and starvation.

However, the seemingly simple question Dohzd asked in their Leningrad poll resulted to a maelstrom of reaction against the independent TV station – the poll infuriated many, some even saying that it is an “insult to the dead”. Russians seriously find great pride in the Soviet Union’s victory in WWII.

Dohzd posted the poll on Sunday, January 26, and by Monday, a hashtag translated as “brown rain” was trending – “brown’ in reference to the color of the Nazis’ uniforms and “rain” pertains to the name of the TV station, Dohzd (Dohzd TV is translated as Rain TV).

Dohzd had already apologized and deleted the Leningrad post it made but still the criticism continued to be relentless. Social media exploded with disapproval aimed at the TV station and the persons behind it. In Twitter, they were labelled “idiots” that have no understanding with regards to the country’s history as well as “less than human”.

Even a number of politicians condemned the TV station’s said Leningrad poll. One who voiced her disapproval was MP Irina Yarovaya of the ruling United Russia party calling the poll as an effort to “rehabilitate Nazism”.

By Wednesday, St. Petersburg’s city parliament called on a ban against Dohzd.

On the other hand, Dohzd was not short of defenders.

There’s nothing more frightening than a ban on analyzing the past,” stated a tweet that sided with the TV station.

Some also doubted the online furor commenting if it had not been orchestrated to give the government an excuse to close upon the station which is viewed as an alternative to the country’s pro-Kremlin press.

State-run Vesti went under fire, too, because of the Goebbels' picture found in its Facebook page.
State-run Vesti went under fire, too, because of the Goebbels’ picture found in its Facebook page.

But it was not just Dozhd which went under fire last week; even state-run Vesti was criticized for posting a picture Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in its Facebook page. It was part of their “great people” gallery as well as their comments about Lenin.

The source and the person who posted the said image are still unknown though Vesti promptly fired its social media marketing team because of the issue.

– BBC News reports

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE