Siege of Leningrad. Exhibit at the Rumyantsev Mansion
Count Rumyantsev’s mansion, alongside with other admirable edifices, is situated at the aristocratic English Embankment near mansion next to the place from where revolutionary minded sailors from Cruiser Aurora fired a shot at the Winter Palace in 1917. The mansion has housed a museum since 1831, and since 1963 an exhibit called Leningrad during The Great Patriotic War has been operated there.
The exhibit occupies eleven rooms and covers the period from June 1941 till May 1945, starting from the German invasion of the USSR and organization of the Defense Committee.
First rooms display photographs, documents, weapons, missiles, mines, and bombs. Walls carry excerpts from Kriegsmarine directive dated September 29, 1941 «Fuehrer has decided to wipe St.Petersburg city off the face of earth. After the defeat of Soviet Russia, there is no reason at all for this major residential area to exist further. Finland also made it clear that it has no interest in future existence of the city next to its new border …». The directive was followed by encirclement of the city and all communication lines being cut off by German forces.
The Bread room tells about the dreadful winter of 1941\1942, bread rationing and what the bread was baked of: it contained less than fifty per cent of flour. It also displays a copy of the diary of Leningrad school girl Tanya Savicheva which has short records «Leka died on March 17 1942 at 5 a.m.», «Uncle Lyosha died on May 10, 1942 at 4 p.m.», as well as photographs of halted transport, faints caused by starvation, and dead bodies carried on sledges.
The nest room is devoted to the Road of Life constructed on Lake Ladoga ice. The road was the only way to deliver supplies to the city and evacuate tormented women, children and old people who were between life and death.
Despite shellfire and bombardments, Leningrad stayed strong. People didn’t have enough food but continued to work at industrial workshops twelve hour shifts. Several theaters functioned throughout the blockage, and in August 1942 Dmitry Shostakovich’s Symphony No.7 also called Leningrad Symphony was first played in Leningrad. Some of the musicians were military performers brought from active army. The performance was broadcast world-wide.