Leningrad siege is the most tragic page in the city's history and in the history of the World War II. In the history of wars no city of the world gave so may lives for the Victory as Leningrad did.
Taking into account political, economical and strategic factors, military and political leaders of the Nazi Germany have chosen Leningrad as the first object for attack and were going to wipe the city off the face of the earth. Capturing Leningrad was an "integral task" of the "Barbarossa" plan. Big number of military forces of Nazi Germany and Finnish army were involved in the battles on the western front.
Already on September 8, 1941 the city was completely blocked from the land. September 8 was the first day of the siege. The secret document # C-124 dated September 29, 1941, which was prepared in Hitler's head office, stated the following: "2. Fuehrer has decided to wipe the city off the face of earth. 4. If due to the situation in the city they would decide to yield, these requests will be rejected, because the problems of preserving and feeding population cannot and should be solved by us".
Striving to implement this plan, leaders of Hitler's army made severe bombing and artillery shooting (during the siege about 150 thousands shells and over 107 thousands incendiary and high-explosive bombs). As the result -more than 5 million square meters were destroyed, actually every third house was in ruins. The most awful ordeal of the first autumn and winter of the siege was hunger. People died in the streets, factories, apartments.... the whole families died. The food rations on food coupons were decreased. Starting from November 20, 1941 as the result of bread ration decrease (other products were not available) during more than a month time clerks, dependants, children received 125 grams of bread, workers - 250 grams, 500 gram -soldiers on the front line.
Already in January 1942 all Leningrad cemeteries were heaped up with dead bodies. According to the decision of city authorities they have started mass burial at the vacant plot of land in the northern outskirts of the city close to railway station "Piskaryovka". Burials were made daily, number of people was from three to ten thousands. The burials were made in huge graves-trenches.
During one day only, February 20, 1942 - 10043 citizens were buried at the Piskaryovskoye emetery.
More than million people (almost the same number of warriors, defenders died on the battle fields and died in the city hospitals) perished during the siege in Leningrad. Tens of thousands of people died during the evacuation.
There are 186 common graves in the Piskaryovskoye cemetery, in which 420 thousands of inhabitants of the city, who died from hunger, bombing and shelling 70 thousands of soldiers, defenders of Leningrad are buried. On many city cemeteries the defenders of Leningrad are buried Bolsheokhtinskoye, Bogoslovskoye, Volkovskoye, Chesmenstkoye, Serafimovskoye, but Piskaryovskoye cemetery is the biggest among them. May 9, 1960 on the fifteenth anniversary of the Victory Day, Piskaryovskoye memorial cemetery was solemnly open. Architectural ensemble of the memorial is the only monument in the country, which presents the unique composition, where architecture, sculpture, nature and music are united.
There is huge merit of creators of the memorial ensemble, who managed to put the feelings of the people into the creative images. The authors are E.A. Levinson, A.I. Vasiliev, V.V. Isaeva, R.K. Taurit. Memorable texts written by Russian poets O. Berggolz and M. Dudin are carved on the granite - short, strict and effected by high poetical inspiration words are the eternal reminder about the severe time of the siege. Entrance into the necropolis (city of the dead) is decorated with two pavilions, which do not have any decoration and are made in a strict style. Bands of friezes made of white marble attract attention, they have an inscription "To you, our valorous defenders Unfading your memory in grateful Leningrad will live Its lives to you posterity owes The glory immortal of heroes shall in posterity's glory be multiplied To you, in the great war the victims of siege Eternal your feat in the hearts of posterity lives To you, noble heroes glory immortal Our own lives align with the lives of the fallen." On the upper terrace in the frame of dark - gray polished granite there is an Eternal Flame. On both sides of the Eternal Flame there are pylons, which are decorated with bronze vases. They decorate the leading down to the central part of necropolis.
From the granite staircase begins the 300 meter central alley, facing the common graves, on each of them there is a granite plate with depiction of oak leaf and the date, mainly 1942, the most hard time of the siege. Granite plates are installed on the common graves, year of burial and five-pointed star are carved on them. There is year of burial, hammer and sickle on the graves on the perished citizens.
At the end of the alley there is the monument to the Motherland. This is the compositional center of the memorial. Monument to the Motherland is the symbol of all mourning mothers. The face of the woman shows not only sorrow, but the great civil courage, pride for her children, who gave their life for the Victory. She holds the garland of oak leaves, which are plaited with mourning band (garland was made by sculptor S.G. Kaplun). There is an impression that she is walking towards the graves of her children. She is walking slowly and sublimely, she has noble strength of mind. The bronze sculpture of the Motherland was made by sculptors V.V. Isaeva and P.K. Taurit. The ensemble is completed by memorial stela. In the granite thickness there are six high relieves by sculptors M.A. Vainman, B.E. Kaplyansky, A.L. Malakhin, M.M. Kharlamov, who are telling about heroism of the inhabitants of the city during the siege and its defendants. In front of us we can see the heroes of the siege, men and women, warriors and workers. Words, written by woman-poet Olga Berggolz, which are full of tragedy and pathos are in the center of the stela. Each citizen of Leningrad knows the name of O. Berggolz and this name is dear to him. "Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten".
Compositions of Russian and foreign classical composers: P. Tchaikovsky, A. Skryabin, S. Rakhmaninov, D. Shostakovitch, S. Taneev, W.-A. Mozart, F. Chopin, L. Beethoven, I. Bach, E. Grig, F. List, G. Bizet and others sound over the memorial as eternal reminder of the severe siege time.
Piskaryovskoye memorial cemetery is the largest cemetery in the world, where victims of the World War II are buried. Every year on May 9 - Victory Day, on June 22 -= the beginning of the World War II, September 8 - the beginning of the siege, January 27 - the raising of the siege, solemn and mourning ceremonies of laying wreathes and flowers to the Monument of Motherland and Eternal Flame are organized on Piskaryovskoye Memorial cemetery.
Piskaryovskoye memorial cemetery is world famous, national monument of the history of the World War II, museum of the feat of Leningrad, school for teaching patriotism and love towards motherland.
For the citizens of Russia, people living on the planet, who value piece and calmness on the earth, the memorial became the symbol of firmness, courage, selfless love to the motherland, surprising strength of spirit of the people - victors in the most murderous war in the world.