Now and Then - Pravda street

pravda street siege of leningrad artillery damage now and then

Corner of Sotsialisticheskaya street and Pravda street, Leningrad. 1943 / Corner of Sotsialisticheskaya street and Pravda street, St. Petersburg. June 2021

House #12 on Pravda street after sustaining damage from enemy artillery shells.

From the diary of Boldyrev Alexander Ivanovich, 33. Senior Research Associate at the Hermitage museum in the 40's, later - Professor of Oriental Studies at the Leningrad State University. Meritorious Scientist of Tajik SSR.

Diary entry from December 7, 1943:

"The fifth and the sixth were two difficult days. Under the cover of thick white fog German artillery shelled the city from the end of morning darkness till the darkness of the evening set in, i.e. 6-7 hours. Many city districts were affected, especially ours. Zagorodny prospekt is considered to be a tareted area these days. In the small sector from Leshtukov lane to Ivanovskaya street [pre-revolutionary name of Sotsialisticheskaya street] there were three or four hits, and counting the ones that had already happened before - ten hits already. One shell fell opposite to the small hairdresser's salon in the house #34 where there was a lot of people. This "creeping barrage" started advancing slowly upon us from Zabalkansky prospekt [pre-revolutionary name of Moskovsky prospekt] and now it's finally arrived here.

The day is clear today, everything is melting. The shelling started at around 9am, when I was running towards my house after returning from my shift. Soon a terrible blow nearby shook our house. Then again and again. I rushed to the windows and opened them. But in a short while everything became quiet again - it seems like good flying conditions allow to rein in these bandits quickly. This time there was a hit at the upper floors of the house at the corner of Ivanovskaya and Kabinetskaya [pre-revolutionary names of Sotsialisticheskaya and Pravda streets]. This is one of those street sides which started getting adorned with stenciled writings - with white paint on a blue background - "Citizens, this side of the street is the most dangerous one during artillery shelling". These signs were painted over a tin stencil by MPVO girls - a real Civil Guard of the besieged city. The news bulletin of Sovinformbureau from December 6 mentions our shellings, blaming them on some Finnish officers.

At the time when I was fighting with the shelling by opening up window frames, an artillery shell hit the roof of the little house next to the Optics Institute on Birzhevaya line, and smashed almost all the glass from the windows of my poor IVAN [Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences], namely the part of it which faced Birzhevaya line, tearing away and scattering the plywood panels which I installed last summer with such great diligence, the objects of my pride and quiet proud love. Gone are my labours, and everything must be started anew, but this time in the cold... Once again I feel like living the kind of life when it seems like She, the "Heroic and Premature One", is always watching you over your shoulder."

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