President Vladimir Putin: I congratulate you on this great and momentous celebration – the anniversary of the day Leningrad was freed from the blockade. The defence of Leningrad during the blockade was a special page not only in this city’s history but also in that of the whole country and of our all entire people, for it was the people who saved Leningrad, who saved their beloved city.
The enemy broke through towards Leningrad in September 1941, and it seemed then that they had calculated everything: the number of shells, cannons, aircraft. But there was one thing they did not take into account, evidently because they could not, and that was our national character, the unequalled courage of the people of Leningrad, the devotion with which they carried out their duty and their great love for their native city.
Each of the city’s residents made their contribution to Leningrad’s defence. Some fought at the front, some baked bread, some treated the sick and wounded, and they all had their part in the victory over the enemy. But this victory came at an extremely high price – it cost the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Leningraders who now lie in the quiet graves of Piskaryovskoye Cemetery.
Not only did the people of Leningrad turn their city into an impenetrable fortress, they transformed it into a real defence enterprise, gave it a full arsenal of weapons, produced tanks, arms, cartridges, ammunition. I recall one fact with amazement: there was one episode when the enemy attacked the Kirov Plant and part of the workers took up their arms, while the rest continued making tanks.
It sounds incredible, but it is a fact. Even more incredible is that when the battle for Moscow began, Leningrad, under the blockade and surrounded by the enemy, sent arms to Moscow, ammunition, cartridges, mines. It is quite simply incredible and amazing. I think that this is partly because then, as has always been the case, the people of Leningrad thought not just of themselves but thought above all of the whole country.
They realised the full importance of this battle taking place for Moscow and understood what significance it had for the entire Soviet Union. They thought about the country and the state! We should never forget Leningrad’s heroic deed, and our children must also never forget it. I am certain that not only our generation will remember it. It is our duty to do all we can to ensure that our children remember it and instil in their own children that they must never ever forget Leningrad’s great deed.