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Football match in the “city of the dead”: how besieged Leningrad proved to be alive

In St. Petersburg there is a monument about which not everyone knows – a monument in memory of the football players of besieged Leningrad. The legendary football match, which took place 75 years ago, had a powerful ideological and psychological impact on the inhabitants of the besieged city and on the enemy. The famous Leningrad footballers of the time changed their tunics to T-shirts to prove that Leningrad was alive and would never surrender.

In August 1941, two months after the Great Patriotic War began, a powerful offensive of the fascist troops began in Leningrad. The German command hoped to capture the cradle of the revolution as soon as possible, and then move on to Moscow. But Leningraders – both adults and children – shoulder to shoulder to defend their native city.

But Leningrad did not succeed, and then the Nazis decided to strangle the city in a blockade. In August, the Germans managed to block the Moscow-Leningrad road and the blockade ring overland closed. There were 2.5 million people in the city, of which about 400 thousand are children. And even in the harshest conditions of the city and the bombing, Leningrad continued to work and fight. During the blockade, more than 640 thousand people died of hunger and more than 17 thousand died from shells and bombs.

In the spring of 1942, fascist airplanes periodically threw flyers over parts of the Red Army: “Leningrad is a city of the dead. We do not take it yet, because we are afraid of a deadly epidemic. We have wiped this city from the face of the earth. ” But to break the inhabitants of the city was not so easy.

Today it is difficult to say who first thought about football, but on May 6, 1942, the Leningrad Executive Committee decided to hold a football match at the Dynamo stadium. And on May 31, there was a football match between the team of the Leningrad Metal Plant and Dynamo. This match refuted all the arguments of fascist propaganda – the city did not just live, it also played football.

It was not easy to get 22 people to participate in the match. For participation in the match with the front line they recalled former football players. They understood that they would not only please the residents of the city with their game, but also show the whole country that the city was alive.

The Dynamo team included players who played for this club before the war, but the factory team turned out to be diverse – it was played by those who were still strong enough to enter the field and knew how to play football.

Not all sportsmen could enter the field. Many were so exhausted that they moved with difficulty. The first ball, which took on the head midfielder “Zenith” Mishuk, knocked him down. After all, he shortly before it was discharged from the hospital after being treated for dystrophy.

They played on the reserve field of the Dynamo stadium, since the main thing was simply “plowed up” by bomb craters. Fans were wounded from a nearby hospital. The mast was held in two shortened periods of 30 minutes, and the second half of the players had to spend under the bombing. It seems incredible that the exhausted and exhausted players would be able to hold out on the field for so long.

At first, the players moved so slowly that the action on the field was a little like sporting events. If a football player fell, then his comrades raised him – I could not get up myself. During the breaks, they did not sit on the lawn, because they knew that they could not get up. The athletes left the field in an embrace – it was much easier to go.

What to say – this match was a real feat! The fact of this match, and we learned, and the Germans, and residents of Leningrad. The last this match really lifted the spirit. Leningrad survived and won.

In 1991, a memorial plaque was installed at the Dynamo stadium in Leningrad with the words “Here, at the Dynamo stadium, on the hardest days of the blockade, on May 31, 1942, the Dynamo Leningrad team held a historic blockade match with the Metal Plant team” and football silhouettes. And in 2012 in St. Petersburg at the Dynamo stadium a monument was opened to the participants of a football match, the author of the monument is the People’s Artist of Russia Salavat Shcherbakov.

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