Definitely, this is the gravest chapter of the city’s history, since it is full of pain and sorrow. At the same time, the city residents have shown their ability to survive the toughest ordeals imaginable.
A bit more than two months since the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Germans staved the Red Army and encircled Leningrad (the city’s name had been changed to Leningrad after Vladimir Lenin’s death in 1924). The siege began on September 8, 1941, and ended on January 27, 1944. In total, the siege lasted 900 days.
The city’s food and fuel stocks were exhausted shortly after the siege began. There was no electricity, heating, and the city transport stopped. The daily ratio was limited to about ¼ of a pound of bread per person. However, life went on in the besieged city, and some industries were still operational.
The Hermitage’s exhibits were secured in the museum’s and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral’s basements. So were those of Petrodvorets and the Tsarskoye Selo Museum. Cultural life was still brewing. It was during the siege that Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his famous ‘Leningrad’ symphony.
Neither city residents nor Red Army soldiers agreed to even consider the possibility of surrender. Many residents fled the city via the ‘Road of Life’ that ran across Ladoga Lake – the only connection with the mainland, which was attacked all the time. It was the only route by which food, water and fuel were delivered to Leningrad.
In January 1943, the Red Army broke the Siege, but it took one more year to lift it completely. Over the three years, more than 600,000 people died of diseases and starvation. Most victims are buried in the Piskariovskoye memorial Cemetery.