March 12, 2006:
The mayor of St Petersburg, Russia, Valentina Matviyenko, has reminded the local legislature that there are still 226,000 people living who served in the siege of Leningrad (as St Petersburg was known back then) during World War II. The 900 day siege by German and Finnish troops was unsuccessful, and Leningrad's defenders secured the northern flank of the Russian lines. Mayor Matviyenko proposes to pay the surviving veterans (most of whom were civilians, who provided all manner of support) an additional pension of $600 a year. It was pointed out that 73 of these veterans are older than 100 years. But most of the veterans were actually children during the siege. While sixty percent of the veterans are 70 years and older, 40 percent are younger. The siege ended 62 years ago. Some 85 percent of the veterans still live in St Petersburg. Everyone inside the city during the siege was under fire, and everyone helped with the defenses, even little children. Over a million Leningrad residents died during the siege, in addition to 300,000 soldiers. At the start of the siege, the city had a population of three million. The Siege of Leningrad is one of those epic events that will eventually turn into a fantastic legend. But even then, most of it will still be true.