In Belgium, the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad were congratulated on the liberation of the besieged city
On the eve of January 27, the day when Leningrad was liberated from the Nazi blockade, the Volunteers of the Victory visited the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad to thank them for their contribution to the liberation of the city.
Representatives of the organization “The Volunteers of Victory in Belgium” visited Vera Alexandrovna Kovaleva, who lives in the Belgian city of Liège with her daughter Tatiana, and expressed their gratitude for the role her family played in the liberation of Leningrad from the Nazi blockade.
These were their words of gratitude:
The defence of a besieged city is a legendary example of strength and bravery that instils admiration and astonishment among its contemporaries and respect among its opponents. It is something that the future generations will never forget.
We will never forget and we honour the courage shown by your generation and the role it played in our Great Victory. You are a true example for modern Russian society. With sincere and deep gratitude, we wish you good health, happiness and long life!
Vera Alexandrovna Kovaleva was born in Leningrad on August 27, 1932.
Here is Vera’s story:
Vera’s father was an engineer on a military shipyard and her mother was a kindergarten teacher. Vera was only 9 years old when the war broke out and when the city of Leningrad was besieged by the Nazis. The terrible memories of this period will remain with her forever.
When winter came, the city had neither light nor water and the sewers were no longer functional. Winter was really cold. The streets were filled with dead bodies. Her parents worked and Vera, who was only 9 years old, had to walk over dead bodies to go to the Neva and collect water. One day, a “half-dead” man attacked her with a knife. She managed to escape, leaving her bucket near a hole in the ice.
Every day, she would queue to buy bread and then she would hide it on her chest on her way home. Several times, people tried to take her bread from her, but she always found the courage to run away.
When the weather was warmer, she and her little brother would go to the village where their mother’s relatives lived, 20 kilometres away from their home, to buy potatoes and milk. One day, as they were returning to the city late at night, they encountered a wolf in the forest. Fortunately, the wolf did not attack the children, but they were terrified.
When the cold autumn came, the siege was still not over. Her father and her little brother fell very ill. Their legs and their arms were swollen from the cold. Her father could no longer work on the shipyard anymore. Her mother continued to work as a kindergarten teacher. Every day, Vera would cross almost the entire city to go to her mother’s working place and bring back pokhlebka, a kind of soup made with bran, to the entire family. Then, winter came and things got worse. Her father could not even get up.
At the beginning of March 1942, Vera’s father’s boss decided that the family should take the Road of Life, which crossed the Lake Ladoga, to reach the unoccupied lands. Vera will never forget this journey. Because of the bombings, the car could not stop. People had to climb into the car while it was moving. Her father was the first to climb into the car and he reached out to them, but her mother and little brother could not climb into the car and they had to
wait for the next one. The car was riding on ice in a five-car convoy. The car was driving between the holes in the ice, in one of which they saw the hot headlamps of a car that had sunk. The driver drove between the holes, standing on the footboard of the car, and not on the passenger compartment of the car, so that he could jump out of the car if it ever fell in the ice. Vera, her father and the other passengers were shaken back and forth in the trunk of the car. The Germans were shooting canon shot all the time and a shell fell on one of the vehicles in front of them. In the evening, they managed to reach the meeting point on the other side of the lake. Her mother and her little brother were missing. Her father left her luggage to Vera and went to look for them, with his crutches, in other meeting points. There, there were several meeting points. After several hours of searching, he found them in an abandoned church. When the family was finally reunited, they boarded teplouchkas, wagons assigned to transport passengers. There were no bunks. There was only straw on the floor. Vera’s family was placed at the back of the wagon. After a few days, they arrived in Saratov, where the shipyard had been moved.
At that time, Saratov was near the front line. Her father continued to work on the shipyard. Vera’s family lived in terrible conditions, starving and cold. But the most important thing is that everyone is alive and that they are all together. At the end of the war, Vera’s family returned to live in Leningrad.