Now, with the Olympics running their full course, the Russian media have place for little else. It’s been this way for awhile. All eyes here have been on Sochi and have been following the elaborate preparations for the winter games.
Yet not long ago, for a week or so, the long-awaited Winter Olympics were overshadowed, even eclipsed, by another event. Festivity made way for solemnity.
January 27 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad (now once again St. Petersburg) by the Nazis. That date spelled the end of 872 days of misery.
The winter of 1941–42 was especially harsh. The freeze was unusual even for that northern climate. Dwellings had no heat or running water. Normal residents received a ration of 125 grams (less than 4.5 ounces) of bread per day. Many, many people froze or starved to death that first winter. Because of the cold, the dead couldn’t be buried, but had to lie in the streets.
Although that was the worst of it, many more perished later. The official death toll was given at over 600,000, but some believe the actual count to have been much higher.
This is why, at the end of January, the soon-coming Olympics were all but choked out of the airwaves by documentaries and dramas about that terrible time.
Now it’s back to fun and games. But the Siege of Leningrad won’t be put far behind. It’s always lurking in the shadows. Some horrors you want to forget, but some you can never shake once they come to your turf.
If you’re curious and not too weakhearted, here’s a link to a documentary video. There’s no dialogue, so language won’t be a barrier. Блокада / Siege of Leningrad