For nearly 900 days it was Leningrad – present-day Saint Petersburg – besieged by Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler’s plan was ruthless: to destroy the city and its inhabitants.
Before World War II, the city had a population of three million. By the end of the siege, starvation, disease, and constant bombing had left Lenin City almost a million people poorer.
One of the victims was Viktor Putin. He managed to reach only a year before he died of diphtheria.
Victor Putin was the older brother of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is now accused of besieging the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in the same way that Hitler besieged Leningrad.
Don’t get help
For more than a week, the coastal city has been without water, heating and electricity, and new supplies have not arrived. A number of emergency aid shipments were forced to turn around because the relief crews themselves were bombed.
The US authorities accuse Russia of deliberately “starving” the city, and ask Putin to remember Russia and his personal history:
The blockade of Leningrad affected several million Russian families, including the family of President Putin. His one-year-old brother was among the many victims. Russia is now starving cities like Mariupol. it’s a shame US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said earlier this week
Russian historian and scientist Johannes Deo Instad, at the Institute for Social Research, conducted research on the Nazi occupation of Soviet lands during World War II. He understands the reason for the similarity between the Nazi siege of Leningrad and the Russian blockade of Mariupol.
– But it’s a piece of you. Enstadt told Dagbladet that the siege of Leningrad was one of the biggest war crimes on the Eastern Front, committed by Hitler’s army.
He wanted to destroy the city
Anstad believes that the extent, duration, and perhaps also the motive separate the siege of Leningrad from the siege of Mariupol.
Leningrad was an important target of the German leadership. It was the city that bore the name of Lenin, the cradle of the revolution, and had great symbolic value in the Soviet state. Therefore, Hitler wanted to destroy the city. In the past, it became clear what the actual plans were. These documents show that the German strategy was to destroy the city and its inhabitants through starvation and grit, not to produce a capitulation, says the scholar.
– Today we do not know what were the strengths of Putin in the siege of Mariupol, but perhaps they want to defeat their opponents in order to force them to surrender so that they can be freely rented from the Donbass to the Crimea.
However, there are commonalities between the Nazi siege of Leningrad and Putin’s siege of Mariupol, says the Russian historian and scientist.
“It appears that Putin’s siege forces are using the same kind of means now that Hitler’s German army was using at the time,” Anstad said.
The German army bombed granaries, hospitals, and vital and civilian infrastructure in Leningrad, cutting off electricity and clean water. In Mariupol, Russia bombed a children’s hospital, restricting the city’s access to water, heating, and electricity.
– Residents of Leningrad had to melt snow and burn wood from parks and forests to survive. Similar conditions have been reported in Mariupol. Hitler’s forces also bombed columns of refugees trying to cross the glacial lake of Ladoga. The Russian forces also prevented the evacuation with artillery. The ethical dimension is comparable. The historian says that the Russians show cruelty at best with regard to civilian casualties, and at worst, deliberately killing civilians.
Many can see the parallel
Hitler’s siege of Leningrad and the war on the Eastern Front remain an open wound in Russian history. The suffering that the Nazis inflicted on the Soviet population was enormous. No one survived, everyone was a legitimate target.
Had the “ordinary Russian” today received unobtrusive information about what the Russian troops are doing and what they did in Mariupol in particular and Ukraine in general, Enstad is sure that the resistance to the war in Russia would have been much greater.
The best that the Russian authorities can do is keep the Russian people safe from information about what is really going on. For “ordinary Russians” it is not clear that what is happening is inflicting suffering on civilians, as in Leningrad, says the researcher.
Therefore, it is also in the interests of Western authorities to try to squeeze information through the veil of state censorship in Russia.
– Claims were made to the Russian population that there was a genocide against the Russian-speaking population of Donbass. If you, as a Russian citizen, take this for granted, it is easy to understand how fair a military operation in Ukraine can be. If the cover of propaganda and censorship is removed by the authorities, Enstad says, it is hard to imagine significant support for this war.
The researcher adds:
– There are still many Russians who see what is really happening, not least those with a high level of education and English language skills. I think there are many who can now see what Leningrad is like.
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