Germany’s government has said that it will allocate € 12 million to upgrading hospitals for war veterans in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), a German-Russian meeting center for the Russian and German public, as well as assistance for people who survived the Siege of Leningrad, Deutsche Welle reports.
German and Russian foreign ministers Heiko Maas and Sergey Lavrov announced this in a joint statement, welcoming the German government’s humanitarian gesture.
“We are confident that this voluntary action will improve the quality of life of the siege victims who are still alive, and will serve as a historic reconciliation between the people of our two countries, as the basis of our bilateral relations in the future,” the ministers said in their joint statement, which was made on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the complete lifting of the siege.
The foreign ministers noted that the decision to assist siege victims was based on “taking responsibility for the unlawful action committed in the name of Germany”. The ministers emphasized that the siege of Leningrad “has gone down in history as a cruel crime against an entire city and its population”.
On January 25, Russia’s Defense Ministry declassified a selection of archived documents on the siege of Leningrad which had never before been published. Most of them concern the records of supplying the city through Lake Ladoga. Other released documents include documents on the order and times of evacuations and charts of water transportation routes and ice roads.
Some of the declassified documents concern the involvement of Soviet submarines in combat operations in Lake Ladoga and charts of their movements. The Russian Defense Ministry also declassified an order to create a strategic underwater 35 km pipeline for transporting fuel to besieged Leningrad.
The siege of Leningrad was fully lifted on 27 January 1944, having lasted nearly 900 days. According to various sources, the death toll in the city during this period was an estimated 500,000-1.5 million, primarily due to starvation. The most severe period was the autumn of 1941 and the winter of 1942, when the organizing of supplies for the besieged city was neglected due to the dire situation around Moscow and the threat of the capital being captured by German troops.