Now and Then - Sennaya square

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sennaya siege of leningrad square
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Sennaya square, Leningrad. March 1942 / Sennaya square, St. Petersburg. December 2020

Female workers' battallion marching to start its work on cleaning the streets from frozen human waste and disposing of dead bodies in order to prevent an epidemic outbreak.

From the memoirs of Tigonen Nina Nikolayevna:

"In March 1942 my mother died, and grandma followed her soon thereafter. I and Sonya stayed alone, we sat on our bed and were afraid to step down cause huge rats were running across the floor. Once our neighbours crashed into our apartment and tried to rob us of our rationing cards, but I snatched them and ran away from the building. I sat it out on the street until I decided to come back home. When the girls from the funeral brigade came to take my mother and grandma, they didn't carry them down the staircase.

We lived on the third floor and all staircases were covered in bloody diarrhea - there was an epidemic in the city. This is why my mom and my grandma's bodies were just thrown out of the window. I ran downstairs to look at my mother, but there already was a mound of bodies and I couldn't find her. In the morning all bodies were taken away...

My father fought at the Leningrad Front and at first we got triangle-shaped letters from him, which were a great joy for us. We read them aloud at the orphanage at the line-ups. My dad promised me we would soon be together, that the war would end everything would be alright. But then we stopped getting letters and a death notification came: my father fell through the ice in his truck.

There was one day I will never forget in the orphanage. Our teachers seated us at the dinner table, as usual, and started putting porridge on our plates. Each of us was allotted only one spoon of porridge per plate. But then an explosion thundered and a bomb fell near us.

It shattered all windows in the orphanage and small shards of glass fell in the plates with porridge. Our teachers started collecting and throwing away the food so that the kids wouldn't eat it, but there were just too many of them and they didn't manage to save everybody. Starving kids started eating porridge with glass in it. That night was filled with screams and groans of children. They all called for their mothers, but they couldn't be helped. On that night my sister Sonechka died and I stayed all alone."

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