11 -
Lest we forget...

Lest we forget...

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: 1813 (26 2014)
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: 1 — 26 2014
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School 11
Vasileostrovsky District, St. Petersburg


Class 7B School Project

Lest We Forget


Project by:
I. Lyubimov, E. Kostenko, A. Andreeva.
Project supervisors:
L.D. Panova, M.V. Lyubimova, A.S. Ilyasova.



St. Petersburg 2014

Much has been written about the Blockade of Leningrad. This year marked the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the siege and for younger generations from St. Petersburg this event is just another memorial day in the calendar left behind by previous generations. For this reason having the opportunity to interact and discuss these events with their participants is extremely important and significant in developing the values of future generations.
With this goal members of our school want to visit one of the survivors of these terrible events in World War II. Elena Ivanovna Kolosova was born and grew up in Leningrad and experienced the siege first hand.
The school children prepared for this meeting in advance. They had to come up with questions which they could put to Elena Ivanova as part of their discussion. One Sunday afternoon the schoolchildren and their teachers met together on Sredny Prospekt on Vasilievsky Island. The teachers were Marina Vyacheslavovna Lyubimova, Lubov Dmitrievna Panova and Anastasia Sergeevna Ilyasova, while the students who attended the discussion were Ivan Lyubimov, Elizaveta Kostenko.
The meeting was very cordial and sincere. We were met by a very active and healthy woman. Despite her age she adeptly used her iPad and other accessories used by todays youth, but what impressed me most of all was her active eyes and speech.
We sat around a table covered with letters and photographs from her own personal archive.


Ivan Lyubimov: What were your impressions of the war?

Elena Ivanova: During the war I was just a little girl, I had finished grade five (12 years old). In 1941 my father had joined the peoples militia and was killed. For a long time we looked for his grave and found it only four years latter through the Memorial organization. We lived on the corner of Bolshoi Prospekt and 16 Line in a communal apartment. We lived well enough with good relations with our neighbours. There were lots of children living in the building and we spent a lot of time with them. We usually went to the country side during the summer, but in 1941 we stayed in the city as the spring had been cold and the weather only improved at the end of June. With the invasion the evacuation was announced almost immediately and our entire class was gathered together and taken to Akulovka, not far from Leningrad. Here there was a small settlement and we lived here just as if we had been on a Young Pioneers camp. Events quickly developed and it soon became clear that the Germans would cut the road between Moscow and Leningrad. Parents started to arrive to collect their children. My mother came to collect me but our departure was quite unreal. The Germans bombed us and fired on us. It was quite hair raising After arriving home in Leningrad, we were told that dad had been killed on the front. Then the siege began. My mother got sick and I was left to myself. Groceries became rarer and rare, and eventually we were given ration cards which entitled us to lentils. Ever since I have loved lentils. Central heating was not turned on. Only twp families were living in the apartment, myself and mommy, and another woman with her child, all the others had been evacuated. In November we had the celebration of the 7 November Revolution and we listened to a speech by Joseph Stalin. All night artillery thundered. We stood in the doorway because that was the safest place, and that night three artillery shells hit our house. Our building survived but all the glass was broken. It became very difficult to live there and we left to stay with relatives, my grandfather and my mothers sister. We survived thanks to my grand father. He was a unique person. He could do everything, cook and sew. All six of us lived in a single room. We didnt have any electricity, no sewage system worked. All the windows were broken. We quickly ran out of wood for the fire. We celebrated New Year with jelly made from carpenters glue, and we all had a good time. In January there was a little bit more food, grandfather looked after the ration cards and somehow managed to bring home a bone with some meat on it and we boiled it in a six litre pot and were astonished that we could make such nice soup with such a small amount of meat.

I read a lot during the siege and I also did embroidery, my grandfather taught me. There was always a lot of hand embroidered items on the table.

Elizaveta Kostenko: What was the psychological environment in the city?

Elena Ivanova:There is a lot written about the siege nowadays and even about incidents of cannibalism, but I personally dont remember any panic among the population, we were certain that we would win. There was no question about it, it was absolutely certain. Then mother found work and we returned to our own house.
For water we had to walk from the 16th line to the 18th line into the courtyard of one of the houses. People often ask how we washed? When it snowed we were given vouchers to visit public baths and we used to wash there. We also heated water in the samovar. We burnt books in the samovar: The Small Soviet Encyclopaedia and a whole pile of books in German. We heated the water and washed, initially our faces and then the rest of the body. One day one of my friends visited and told me that we were meant to go to school. We went to school but we didnt study. They fed us a little and sent us to do agricultural work. They sent us to Irinovka and all summer we worked in the fields. We lived in the loft of one of the houses. And then later we were evacuated. On 8 September we departed.

Alexandra Andreeva: What happened during the evacuation?

Elena Ivanova: My mother had the older group. I remember taking the ferry. The children were loaded onto the ferry and then as we were approaching the other shore a dogfight broke out in the sky above us and then the bombing started. We ran with little children while being bombed holding them under our armpits. Then we were fed and boarded a train. And we left. The organization was very good. At each station we ran to fill our cups with porridge. Then we would ran back to the train. Once there was another train in front of us and we barely had time to get back to the train, jumping onto the last two wagons. It was a scary moment It took us a month to travel to our new site and we had all become quite friendly. Either in Novosibirsk or in Krasnoyarsk they had built a sanitizing centre. Then we were taken to Abakan and then on to a village Beya. It was a large settlement with about 5000 people.

"Why did we have to travel so far?

It was different for everyone, some people got off the train earlier. There was a school where we lived for three years. We used to go to school and go into the forest to gather mushrooms, we had our own garden and nobody starved. Sometimes we worked at the collective farm. There were celebrations, and sometimes we organized our own concerts. Throughout the evacuation I corresponded with my friend Ella who remained in Leningrad with her parents.

It is quite remarkable that there were a lot of letters and that somehow links were maintained with Leningrad throughout the siege. When you take these small, shabby pieces of paper, written on in pencil and see the warm, heartfelt words written on them by children, living in the most primitive conditions during a period of hunger, death and separation from loved ones.

Elena Ivanova: When the war was over we were all called together and given the news. I cried for a long time. Then we returned to Leningrad

When listening to Elena Ivanovna I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Such experiences seem to us to be so unbelievable today but were achieved by the citizens of Leningrad and indeed, by the entire country.
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