Now and Then - First artillery attack on Leningrad

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artillery damage Leningrad shell siege
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Damage caused by the hit of the first German heavy artillery shell on a residential building in Leningrad.

According to official records of Leningrad authorities, this was the first residential building in the city to be hit by German heavy artillery on September 5, 1941. The first shellings started one day earlier and the last shot at the city area was made on January 22, 1944. A total of 64 000 heavy artillery shells of 150mm and above were fired on the city in this period. There is no exact statistics on the number of civilians killed by artillery strikes in particular, but about 27 000 died of both air raids and artillery out of the 800 000 estimated civilian deaths.

 

From the diary of Mukhina Elena Vladimirovna (1924 - 1991). Soviet artist, schoolgirl at the start of the war.

Diary entry from September 5, 1941:

"Right after the end of the air raid which lasted for 3 quarters of an hour, I went to Tamara at around 8pm and stayed at her place until half past nine. We talked little, because we listened to the gramophone. So we were listening to the record when we heard excited voices in the corridor. Olga Antonovna went outside to find out what was going on. She came back to us soon and told us: "An artillery shell has struck a three storey building on the corner of Predtechenskaya and Glazovskaya Streets [now Chernyakhovskogo and Konstantina Zaslonova streets. She was definitely mistaken, because these streets don't cross. She likely confused Voronezhskaya for Predtechenskaya - Alexander Shmidke], the roof was safe but two apartments were ripped off clean from the second and third floors". I and Tamara didn't believe her at first. We won't believe this before we see this with our own eyes. Besides, the rumour has it there were several more bomb explosions near Fontanka today. There were casualties.

Only three days ago they said on the radio that thanks to our glorious Stalin's Falcons not a single bomb was dropped on Leningrad. Not a single house was damaged. Not a single casualty was incurred.

And this was the truth three days ago, while today we've got a ruined building, we've got bombs and we've got our first casualties. This fascist vermin, how fiery is the hatred of all Leningraders and me in particular towards them! What do they want to do to our city? There were such massive explosions today. I was terrified. And this was just one cannon shooting. What if there are 20 of them? What will our city become? Are we going to stay alive? When going to bed, I only take part of my clothes off. How terrible, the winter is approaching. What will this winter look like? What are we destined to go through? If the Germans break into Leningrad and fighting starts on the streets of my city, I'll flee, I won't stay here. Let Mom and Aka do whatever they want. I know what will happen to me if I don't flee. I'll run together with Tamara".

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