Vladivostok remembers siege of Leningrad

Residents from one of Russia’s eastern most cities, Vladivostok, have gathered to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War Two.  Vladivostok is Russia’s administrative centre for its Primorsky Krai region, which borders China and North Korea.  Citizens who lived through the siege of Leningrad have since relocated across Russia, many to Vladivostok, which was founded in 1992.

Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg, was taken by Nazi forces in September 1941.  Even though the Soviets were able to retake some of the city, the siege wasn’t fully over until January 1944. It was one of the longest sieges in history and casualty numbers were high.  Much of the city was destroyed in the siege but the most far-reaching consequence for the people of Leningrad was famine.

Around 1.5 million troops and citizens died, while around 1.4 million were evacuated.  The high number of deaths here for both the Soviets and Germans exceeded that of Russia’s other embattled cities and even the atomic bombings in Japan. The siege began to be spoken of as a genocide, since the Germans did nothing to prevent the people’s starvation and they upheld the German policy of eradicating certain elements of the population.

The only food available in the city was 125 grams of bread which was half sawdust. In the first two months of 1942 it is reported that around 1,000 local people died every day from hunger or disease.

To commemorate the day the siege was broken by Soviet forces, local authorities In Vladivostok and previous Leningrad residents came together at the War Memorial Wall at the Pacific Fleet Military Glory complex.  A minute’s silence was observed and wreaths were laid at the Memorial wall, the Global Post reports.

The memorial takes place every year. It gives the people a chance to remember the days of occupation and the losses suffered at that time. A local organization was set up in Vladivostok when the city was founded to support and represent around 400 survivors from the siege of Leningrad.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE