The exposition of the photographs from St Petersburg's Central State Archive of Film and Photo Documents will coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Leningrad during WWII, an important date of Russian history.
"What is shown in these photos are intolerably tragic, everyday events, but we must know our country's history," said the museum deputy director, Yevgeny Berezner. According to Mr. Berezner, many of the 160 photographs in the exposition will be shown to the public for the first time, as they were classified and not published during or after the war.
The photographs are unsparingly realistic, which was why they were classified. Residents of the besieged city ate dogs, cats, pigeons and even rats. It was common for people to die in the streets.
There are disturbing pictures in the exposition, like "Ploschad Vosstaniya Square after Shelling," or "Dead Bodies on the Wasteland near Volkonskoye Cemetery." Yet, the majority of photographs show everyday life in the besieged city, revealing its enduring will to live and fight.
Apathy and patriotism were often contrasting sentiments during the blockade. "Idealists were working hard and died of starvation, while cynics were collecting quantities of old pictures," said Mr. Berzner. The photograph entitled "The Shipment of Gifts for Soldiers" proves that Leningraders were ready for acts of heroism and self-sacrifice.
The photographs also depict smiling and working people and those who paid little attention to dead bodies on the road. "Those who passed the corpses were not heartless. They found themselves in the inside of war with different life criteria and where time is dated differently," said Mr. Berezner while explaining the concept of the exhibition and its title.