German journo criticizes Siege of Leningrad commemoration, gets slammed by Russian senators

German journo criticizes Siege of Leningrad commemoration, gets slammed by Russian senators
Russian Senators have lambasted a German journalist, who criticized the parade commemorating the end of the Siege of Leningrad – one of the most tragic events of WWII – in a bid to take a jab at the Kremlin.

St. Petersburg will see a parade on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the blockade of the city by the Nazi Germany troops that lasted almost 900 days and claimed about 1 million deaths mainly from starvation. But for a journalist at Suedduetsche Zeitung, one of the most popular national dailies in Germany, this is a wrong way to mark the occasion.

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“It surprises me that this criticism … comes from a German journalist,” the deputy head of the Russian Senates Defense and Security Committee, Franz Klintsevich, said, commenting on the piece published by the German daily. The journalist, who wrote this piece, must be either “ignorant of history” or “lacking … mercy and compassion” to write something like this, the senator said in a Facebook post.

“I cannot rule out that someone in Germany would like Russia to forget about the Siege of Leningrad,” Klintsevich said, commenting on the German article. “That is not going to happen!” he added.


Another Russian Senator, Aleksey Pushkov, also condemned criticism voiced by the German journalist by saying it was “immoral” and “out of place.”“Of all the media, the German ones should be the last to criticize us,” he wrote in a Twitter post, adding that Germany’s journalists should better focus on “the horrors of the [Leningrad] blockade and numerous crimes committed by the Third Reich against our people.”

In the lengthy article titled ‘Moscow abuses the memory of the Leningrad’ Silke Bigalke argues that Russian authorities daring to hold a military parade as part of the commemorative events shows interest in stirring up national pride and controlling the people rather than preserving the memory about the tragedy.

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However, the author apparent desire to shame the Russian authorities produced an article filled with inaccuracies and some bizarre assumptions, even though the journalist does admit that the siege was “genocide.” The author claims through the text that the Soviet leaders just gave up on the Leningrad residents and left them to the mercy of the Nazis.
She further states that the city defenders were too weak to put up any decent fight because of starvation. The Nazis allegedly did not take the city just because they did not actually want it, the author claims. “Their goal was not to break the resistance of the residents. The goal was to starve them to death.”

The article does not say a word about the fact that several armies and a significant part of the Soviet Baltic Fleet were defending the city making regular attempts to break the blockade. Over 1.5 million people were awarded the medal for protecting Leningrad after the war. She also didn’t mention the German commanders admitted they would be unable to take the city outright. Neither does the article talk about the so-called Road of Life - the ice road winter transport route across the Ladoga Lake used to deliver food and munitions to the besieged city as well as to evacuate the civilians.

The Road of Life was created just days after the start of the siege in September 1941 and was used until January 1943 when the Soviet troops managed to open a land corridor into Leningrad. Each winter, the Lake Ladoga ice route was reconstructed by hand, and built according to precise arithmetic calculations depending on traffic volume. The truck drivers were working on the road under constant Nazi shelling and bombardments.

The city of Leningrad, now known as St Petersburg, was almost completely surrounded by the German-led forces in 1941. The horrific Siege of Leningrad was one of the most lethal in world history, and lasted for 872 days, from September 1941 to January 1944.

The city's civilian population of almost three million refused to surrender or flee in panic, even though they were completely surrounded by advancing German forces. The extreme famine and frequent shelling claimed the lives of around 1 million people – with some historians putting the numbers as high as 1.5 million.

It is not the first time, the parade, which provoked such an angry reaction from the German journalist, is held in St Petersburg. The event marking the lifting of the Nazi siege of the city as well as the deeds of the soldiers that defended and liberated it, involves a historical part, in which soldiers dressed in the WWII uniform as well as some military equipment pieces of that time march through the central Palace Square following by a display of the modern troops and military hardware.

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