Germany to earmark €12 mln for projects in memory of Leningrad siege victims
Russian and German Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas have welcomed the German government’s decision to allocate €12 mln ($13.6 mln) for projects in St. Petersburg as a humanitarian gesture and Germany’s recognition of its responsibility for the Nazi-led Siege of Leningrad, TASS reports.
"75 years ago, Leningrad, today's St. Petersburg, was completely liberated by Soviet troops from the blockade by the German Wehrmacht, which left its mark in history as a brutal act against the entire city and its population," the statement said. "This ended the 872-day period of deaths, hunger and suffering, during which more than 1 million people died."
"We, the foreign ministers of Germany and Russia, welcome the decision of the German government, which is based on the recognition of the responsibility for the crimes of those years committed by Germany, to make a voluntary humanitarian gesture for those victims of the siege who are still alive. The €12 mln payment will be used to modernize a hospital for war veterans and create in St. Petersburg the German-Russian Center for communication and meetings for members of the public of both countries and those affected by the siege," the statement said.
Lavrov and Maas expressed confidence that "this voluntary act will contribute to improving living standards of the siege victims and will serve for historic reconciliation between the two countries’ peoples as a basis for bilateral relations in the future."
On occasion of the Leningrad siege’s anniversary, the German Foreign Ministry noted that "Germany recognizes its historic responsibility" for the blockade. According to the ministry, Maas and Lavrov agreed to implement the projects to support the siege’s victims in May 2018. Maas said this Germany’s gesture is "a symbol that this act [siege] must never happen again."
The siege of Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg) is one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany. According to various estimates, between 600,000 and 1.5 mln citizens died during the siege. The operation on lifting the blockade began on January 14, 1944. It was completely lifted on January 27, 1944. Leningrad is the only large city in the world’s history that withstood almost 900-day encirclement.