Jerusalem hosts dedication ceremony for heroes of besieged Leningrad

It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1.5 million people died in the course of the 900-day-long siege of Leningrad, tens of thousands of Jews among them.

Siege of Leningrad monument (photo credit: EURO-ASIAN JEWISH CONGRESS (EAJC))
Siege of Leningrad monument
(photo credit: EURO-ASIAN JEWISH CONGRESS (EAJC))
Jerusalem hosted a special cornerstone laying ceremony on Tuesday November 12, for the Memorial Candle Monument dedicated to the heroic defenders and residents of besieged Leningrad.
Attendees at the ceremony included Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Zeev Elkin, Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Knyaginin, Russian Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov and EAJC President, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili.
The project was initiated by Russian and Israeli leaders in January of 2017, at an event dedicated to International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Moscow. During Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Moscow in February of 2019, President Vladimir Putin accepted the invitation of the Israeli side to participate in this opening ceremony.
The monument was funded by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) and Viktor Vekselberg. Jewish National Fund (KKL), Keren ha-Yesod, and the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC).
The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, backed the initiative of former Knesset member, Leonid Litinetsky, the Council of World War II Veterans and the Association of the Victims of the Leningrad Siege in Israel wanted to establish this monument in memory of the heroes and victims of the Leningrad Siege in Jerusalem.
The monument was erected with the support of the authorities of St. Petersburg and Jerusalem. The opening of the steel stele bearing the symbols of Israel and St. Petersburg will take place in January of 2020, as part of the celebration of Leningrad Liberation Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day which both fall on January 27.
It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1.5 million people died in the course of the 900-day-long siege of Leningrad, tens of thousands of Jews among them. The majority of the Jewish population was drafted into the army or voluntarily joined the people’s militia.
“For many years, I lived in St. Petersburg and know firsthand what a deep scar the siege has left in the life of every Leningrad resident. Among the defenders and residents of the besieged city were around 150,000 Jews, tens of thousands of whom perished. Many Jews voluntarily took to arms and joined the ranks of the people’s militia. The Memorial Candle monument in Jerusalem not only appeals to our shared memory but also serves as a reminder that the world remains to be a precarious place. It is up to us to uphold the truth and preserve the memory of the terrible war so that the tragedy of our peoples never repeats,” said EAJC President Dr. Michael Mirilashvili.
Viktor Vekselberg said, “Time erases many things, especially painful memories of past tragedies. This is simply our coping mechanism. However, we cannot let ourselves forget about such horrific events in the past such as the Siege of Leningrad. Our shared task is to remind the present and future generations about the heroism of the people of Leningrad and about the trials and tribulations they had to endure during those endless 900 days and nights.
Daniil Granin, who fought on the Leningrad front, wrote in his “Siege Book” about “collecting the rocks of people’s memories” in order to return the debt of gratitude to the heroic acts and the lesson in bravery through which the people and defenders of the city taught the world. Today, here in Jerusalem, we are making the first step towards memorializing their heroism. I am confident that the Memorial Candle monument will be a sign of friendship between Russia and Israel for generations to come.”