Now and Then - Fire at the print shop

siege of leningrad print shop fire

Oranienbaumskaya street, Leningrad. Early June 1942 / Oranienbaumskaya street, St. Petersburg. April 2021

Books rescued from the fire at the A.M. Gorky Print Shop.

From the diary of Golubev Sergey Gordeyevich, 43. Deputy headmaster of the Leningrad Firefighters Technical College. Deputy head of the Leningrad Firefighting Directorate during the siege.

Diary entry from June 4, 1942:

"At 15.09 several incendiary and HE shells hit the five storey building of a book warehouse at the Print Shop at Oranienbaumskaya street, 29. A large and very complex conflagration broke out. The entire space of the warehouse was filled with books. There were very few passages. This is how the administration tried to save the books from shell shockwave damage. A Class 4 fire alert was announced [second to the highest]. So much heat got built up inside the building that the concrete couldn't withstand it and started crumbling. At first the two top floors collapsed, then the entire building got split apart in two along the expansion joint and nearly collapsed in its entirety. The fire was put out by 23 hoses. There was little water available. It was tapped from the basements. We barely managed to defend the first and part of the second floor. Thousands of copies of books were incinerated".


From the diary of Afanasiev Dmitry Vladimirovich (1928 - 1988). Leningrad schoolkid. Witness of the Siege of Leningrad.

Diary entry from June 12, 1942:

"I went to the Nevsky prospekt. There were lots of books on sale near the House of the Book [former Singer company building]. I bought a large volume of Mayakovsky with charred edges. It is said it's one of the books that were damaged during the fire at the Print Shop... I read Mayakovsky's plays in the evening and enjoyed them greatly".

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