St. Petersburg yesterday commemorated a Million dead who died in the Blockade of the city by the German Wehrmacht. Leningrad wanted to starve the Nazis and destroy them with Air Force and artillery.
On 27.01.2020 there was a great crowd at the entrance of the Piskarovskoye Cemetery in St. Petersburg. The weather was cold and the sky was grey. Nevertheless, there was an excited and busy atmosphere in front of the entrance of the cemetery in the northeast of the Neva city. Soldiers and instructors from military colleges and representatives of the St. Petersburg authorities, wore large wreaths with colored loops. Students with Blue Jackets and the imprint “volunteers of victory” as well as a whole class of apprentices from a technical school for welders were in lively conversation with their leaders and teachers.
“If they hadn’t fought, we wouldn’t be here today”
They were young people who knew the blockade of Leningrad only from stories. You can’t say that they all made sad faces. They were ordinary young people. But the majority of them probably understood that their ancestors had accomplished a great achievement. “If they hadn’t fought, we wouldn’t exist today,” one of the young people tells me.
January 27 is one of the most important days of remembrance for St. Petersburg. On this day in 1944, the Red Army troops broke through the blockading ring that the German Wehrmacht had laid around the city since September 8, 1941.
Yesterday at eleven o’clock, a march with flowers and wreaths began at the Piskarovskoye cemetery, past the mass graves in which 500,000 people are buried-soldiers and people who died of Hunger, disease and cold during the blockade of the city. Later, in the Blockade Museum in Solyanoi alley, I see on large panels the orders of German soldiers, Phillip Kleffel and Franz Halder, which prove that the Nazi leadership had the Plan to starve and destroy the city of Leningrad-the cradle of the Russian Revolution.
Just two months after the start of the war against the Soviet Union, on 28 August 1941, Franz Halder, chief of the General Staff of the German army, wrote that “any attempt by the civilian population to break through the encirclement must be prevented.”
Commander Phillip Kleffel: “not the slightest pity for women and children”
On December 13, 1941, the commander of the 1st Infantry Division, Phillip Kleffel, wrote in an order ," this fight demands that we do not have the slightest pity for the starving population, even for women and children.“They will not let them through the Front. The women and children were Russians who " committed crimes wherever possible.”
The march over the Piskarovskoye cemetery ended in front of the monument “mother’s Homeland”. The monument shows a grieving woman with outstretched arms. Red carnations and wreaths were laid in front of the monument. I also laid flowers there together with a group of journalists and politicians from the Czech Republic. During the ceremony, organ music played over the cemetery with its large, square, slightly raised mass graves.
77.000 “Blokadniki” are still alive
Not far from the monument" mother’s homeland " I get into conversation with the head of the organization of the survivors of the Blockade, Yelena Tikhomirova. She tells us that 77,000 survivors of the Blockade still live in the city today. For her, January 27 is a day of joy, but also a day of mourning. She had spent 13 months of the Blockade in the city. Then she was evacuated to the Siberian Altai region. Jelena was born in 1934 and was eight years old at the beginning of the Blockade. Leningrad had 3.2 million inhabitants in 1941. By February 1943, 1.7 million people had been evacuated.
Yelena Tikhomirova remembers that after air raids in September 1941 the camps for food burned. She also remembers that the Zoo was on fire and an elephant cow was screaming. Her grandmother and mother died during the Blockade. Friends of hers suddenly fell over on the street and died. The reason was Hunger and temperatures of 30 degrees Minus. Those who worked in the city’s armaments factories received 250 grams of bread a day. Those who did not work received only 125 grams a day. Yes, she was always afraid to die herself, " especially when the shootings began. That’s the natural feeling of a child, " says the 86-year-old.
The children had suffered particularly from the Blockade. Children would need a certain diet to develop their internal organs by the age of seven. There were women who could not bear children after the Blockade. Others had very small hearts because of hunger at that time. I ask Jelena what the support for the blockade victims looks like today. Almost all those who still lived in shared apartments had their own apartments, explained the association president.
In order to prevent the horror of fascism from repeating itself, one must enlighten and anchor historical knowledge in the youth, says Jelena. Unfortunately, this enlightenment had become less in Russia. “Why was the German people so seduced? Because it did not know its own history.”
In the city events
Wreaths and flowers were laid yesterday in numerous cemeteries in St. Petersburg. Military vehicles and tanks from the Second World War and modern military equipment of the Russian army were exhibited in the Square in front of the Hermitage.
On the Square in front of the Ermitage there was also a tent where activists collected money for a Film. The Film is intended to shed light on the work of the Russian ballet, which continued to work during the Blockade – albeit with reduced force. In the activists ' tent hung posters of ballet performances and concerts that took place during the Blockade. In the evening there was a magnificent fireworks display over the Neva.
ARD-correspondent flexed against the establishment of a Blockade of the monument
For me as a German, it was a very strange feeling to be in St. Petersburg on January 27. My voice often failed when I spoke to war veterans. I was close to tears. It is not so much a feeling of guilt that plagues me, but the fact that the war crimes committed by the German Wehrmacht in the Soviet Union are today again concealed, talked down and charged with The Crimes Of Stalin. One feels reminded of the 1950s and 1960s.
I was shocked by the comment of the ARD fascist Sabine Müller. She complained that Putin and Netanyahu had not acted with dignity by erecting a monument to commemorate the blockade of Leningrad in Tel Aviv. This monument was a “private party” and the survivors of Auschwitz at the main event of Auschwitz in Tel Aviv had to wait for Putin and Netanyahu.
I think it would be disastrous if victims of German fascism were played off against each other. As long as we mourn only for Jews, but not also for the Blockade victims of Leningrad and the Soviet soldiers starved to death in German prisoner-of-war camps, we have not worked up our history as Germans and have not learned the necessary lessons.