Leningrad in 1950sThe war was not yet over, but Leningrad had already started to recover from the tragic years of the Siege and all the damage it brought to the city. Some of the museums, like the Cabin of Peter the Great for instance, reopened as early as 1944. By the time the victorious Soviet army marched back into the city, Leningrad looked fresh and clean, and the ruins of some world-famous buildings were covered with cardboard walls, depicting their pre-war appearance. The whole city, the whole country, had dreamt of a revival and it did come.

Despite all the enthusiasm of the people, a significant part of national economy was ruined by the war and most of the nation had to live in rather primitive conditions, work hard and keep faith in a brighter future. Food rationing was a common feature throughout the 1940s. Since 2.8 million sq. meters of city housing was destroyed and another 2.2 million sq. meters damaged, housing became a major problem. Until the 1960s most of the people in Leningrad lived in so-called "communal" (i.e. shared) apartments.

Against all the odds the city was transformed. Unlike many other cities Leningrad was not modernized, but restored to the highest pre-war standards. The palaces of Peterhof and Pushkin had to be almost fully rebuilt. The careful restoration took some time and tremendous amounts of money.

Peterhof 1944   Peterhof now

Some of the suburban palaces, like the Aleksandrovsky Palace of Nicholas II in Pushkin, still await restoration. The city museums had reopened swiftly after fixing most of the war damage. But a blue sign of Bombardment Warning on Nevsky Prospect and the green mounds of the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery still remind us of the tragic past of Leningrad.

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