most people get information from the Internet. The available photos of
blockaded Leningrad are sparse and tell a mundane and dry story:
corpses on roadsides; a woman pulling a dead child wrapped in a shroud
on a sled; people gathering water from holes in the Neva; trolleybuses
covered with ice on Nevsky. The emotions are hidden, censored and
filtered in the postwar period.
During the blockade years in Leningrad, there was a law prohibiting
“photography and filming inside the city”. Very few photographs have
been preserved from people’s everyday lives. There are no memorial or
family portraits. So the photos from family archives that have been
miraculously preserved are especially valuable.
Like all people who were in the blockade, my relatives, who experienced
the start of the blockade and evacuation, did not like to talk about
what they had to endured. Perhaps they were protecting themselves and
realized that people who had not been there would never understand it.
Of the few stories they told, I particularly remember descriptions of
the evacuation over frozen Lake Ladoga – the Road of Life. Now I
understand that they were not stories, but an unforgettable pain that
would not go away.
During the blockade, a total of 1.5 million people were evacuated,
including my grandmother and my little father, and my mother’s family,
along the Road of Life. Not everyone survived. They were lucky. They
survived. Now there is me, my sister, my son and my nephews. They will
also have children and grandchildren…
“Blind spot” is the name for the section of the road that a driver
cannot see. In the installation of the same time, a direct broadcast
from web cameras on Nevsky is combined with photographs from a family
album. We look at the present-day city in real time, but for us, the
understanding of what was experienced by over a million people who died
and as many who were evacuated remains invisible.
The only “threads of memory” are their words, written in their diaries,
rarely remembered stories and a few photographs.
“We were also
helped by Uncle Slava’s cousin – the navy sailor Boris Mironov. He
brought us black army bread crusts several times, and in the spring of
1942, when we had already lost our grandmother, Maria Fyodorovna
Burgova, Boris Nikolaevich Mironov helped us with evacuation across
Lake Ladoga along the Road of Life, to the North Caucasus.
It was in
Lermontov’s former haunts that the Leningraders were fed and treated,
so they could then be sent to their final destination of evacuation.
The Institute of cinema engineers was moved to old Samarkand, and the
Lenfilm studio (like Mosfilm and other studios) was moved to Alma-Ata
The journey had
everything: terrible cold, a risky car race across the melting ice of
Lake Lago, and then diarrhea from starvation – outside the blockade
ring. We were transported in heated freight cars. I slept in the top
bunk, and Mama, Aunt Mika and Uncle Slava slept below. At a railway
station in Belorussia, Uncle Slava went as usual to exchange clothes
for sour milk and bread. I was asleep. But I still thought I could hear
Mama calling me. When I woke up and went down to her bunk, she was
From the memoirs of my uncle Vyacheslav Eduarovich Volk
Then Aunt Mika also died during the journey (Lyudmila Alexeevna
Burgova). Only 10-year-old Slava and my grandfather, Vyacheslav
Alexeevich Burgov, made it to Samarkand.