Because our grammar teacher decided to cancel class yesterday (class should never be held on a Saturday), Cornelia and I decided to take advantage of the extra free time to head over to the Museum of the Siege of Leningrad.
Exiting the Moskovskaya metro station, the environ leading up to the museum seemed depressingly appropriate for the museum we were about to see. Ice on the rooftops teetered precipitously over the tops of buildings, and ankle-deep, brown puddles engulfed the sidewalk. Grey, overcast skies and mountains of dirty, blackened snow. And there it was, the museum of the Leningrad Blockade, standing out like a tiny, bright flicker among its drab surroundings.
The Leningrad Blockade was one of the most destructive sieges of the 20th century, lasting from September 1941 until January 1944. Hitler tried to starve the city into submission – residents received 1/4 lb of saw-dust filled bread a day. No heat, no water, no electricity. By the time the siege was lifted, close to 700,000 people had died from disease and hunger.
While it was a small museum (there was only one room), it was quite poignant and moving. For me, the most vivid part of the museum was the film they showed – a black-and-white archival footage of essentially living-death during the blockade: mass graves, and hardened people walking around frozen corpses that had become a part of every-day life.
They moved Tanya’s diary to the Piskarovskoe Memorial Cemetery. It reads:
Zhenya died on the 28th of Dec at 12:30 in the morning, 1941
Grandmother died on the 25th of January at 3:00 in the afternoon, 1942
Leka died on the 5th of march at 5 in the morning, 1942
Uncle Vasya died on the 13th of April at 2:00 after midnight, 1942
Uncle Lesha on the 10th of May at 4:00 in the afternoon, 1942
Mother on the 13th of May at 7:30 in the morning, 1942
Only Tanya is left.
Overall, a sobering experience.