Sunday 22 June 2008

Leningrad (St Petersburg) - A Trip to the Battlefield - May 2006

 This story must start with an acknowledgement of the horrendous suffering borne by the people of this remarkable city from 1941 through to 1944. One of the victims from the siege was called Tanya Savicheva and her iconic image can be seen throughout the city. Her journal is kept at the St Petersburg Museum of History. My friends Natalya Makeeva and Katerina Stepanova translated some passages for me. The journal has been transcribed onto a powerfully evocative memorial which can be found near the start of the 'Road of Life' to the East of the modern day city.

Hzenya (Evgeniya) died on the 28th of December at 12.30 in the morning 1941
Grandmamma died on the 28th of January at 3 p.m. 1942
Uncle Vasya died on the 13th of April at 3 a.m. 1942
Leka died on the 17th of March at 5 a.m. 1942
Uncle Lesha died on the 10th of May at 4 p.m. 1942
Mama died on the 13th of May at 7.30 a.m. 1942
The last 3 sheets: “Family Savichevy is all dead, Tanya is alone"

In August 1942 Tanya Savicheva was taken out of the city to Gor’kovskaya oblast. Tanya was in poor health (because of starvation) and doctors couldn’t help her. She died on the 1st of July 1944. But her brother Michail stayed alive (he was partisan) and her sister Nina also (she worked with a building batallion near Ladoga Lake).

Some 500,000 victims of the siege were buried in the vast Piskaryovskoe cemetery a picture of which I have posted below.

Of course, many people survived and it is a credit to the modern day city that their sacrifice and achievement is still acknowledged today - in particular on Veterans day when the survivors parade through the city.