The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ashgabat joined the videoconference organized by the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg jointly with ANO PetersburgForum Center, dedicated to the project “Mission of Memory “Leningradskoe Thank You”.
The online meeting was attended by representatives of the CIS countries, employees of the Russian diplomatic corps in Turkmenistan, eyewitness and child of the besieged Leningrad Maria Avanesova, as well as students of the joint Turkmen-Russian school named after Alexander Pushkin.
Having launched in the year of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, the “Leningradskoye Thank You” project is aimed at increasing awareness on history of the Great Patriotic War. It also gives opportunity to express gratitude to the cities and countries that received the people evacuated from Leningrad during the years of the blockade. By sharing bread and shelter with them, the families of the multinational Soviet Union literally gave people exhausted from hunger a second life.
During the Great Patriotic War, the blockade of the city of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) prolonged almost 900 days. German forces closed in around the city, initiating a siege that would last from September 8, 1941 until January 27, 1944. The German command’s ultimate plan was not only to gain control over the entire Baltic coast, but also to capture the former capital of the Russian Empire.
Having Leningrad encircled, the enemy troops took control over all the land approaches to the city. Railway and road communications with the “mainland” were completely interrupted. The route, which became known as the Road of Life (Дорога жизни), was effected over the southern part of Lake Ladoga and the corridor of land which remained unoccupied by German forces between Lake Ladoga and Leningrad to deliver a constant flow of supplies into Leningrad in a siege. But this connection was very fragile as land vehicles had to be driven over thick ice across the lake and risked becoming stuck in the snow or sinking through broken ice at any moment.
A resident of Ashgabat, Maria Avanesova, who during a siege was a girl of 10 only, was among those who were delivered from Leningrad across Lake Ladoga. In total, more than a million civilians were evacuated from the blockade city, which left without food, heat, electricity and water, to the Urals and to the countries of Central Asia. Turkmenistan, like other republics, gave a warm welcome to the people of Leningrad who were left homeless.
The “Leningradskoe Thank You” Project, implemented with the support of the Museum of Defense and Siege of Leningrad, is designed for 5 years. Its first years were devoted to the collection of information, artifacts and other materials that clearly reveal the role of different countries in the reception of evacuees. It is also planned to create an interactive map of evacuation of facilities, factories that were located in Leningrad as well as the population so that the younger generation understands the full scale of evacuation measures.
“Representatives of different republics took part in the battle for Leningrad, and the preservation of the memory of common exploits is the basis for interregional and international cooperation,” said Yulia Privalova, Director of the PetersburgForum Center. “On outcomes of a five-year work over the project “Mission of Memory “Leningradskoe Thank You”, it is planned to hold a large video conference entitled “ 900 grateful minutes ”. It is in our power to make the memory of the Great Patriotic War a memory of pride, gratitude and confidence in the correctness of what the Soviet people did in the name of Victory.
St. Petersburg honors and remembers all the participants in the Leningrad front. Since 2003, memorial plaques have been launched at the Piskarevskoye cemetery of St. Petersburg to the soldiers who died in the defense of Leningrad. Every year, flowers and wreaths of memory are laid on the graves and memorial plaques with the names of soldiers from different parts of the Soviet Union.