Exhibit Categories: CensorshipSocial PhilatelyWorld War II
The Mail of Leningrad Blockade
The goal of this exhibit is to explore the life of Leningraders and defenders of the city by means of social philately. The exhibit includes postally used picture postcards printed before and during the siege, letters, covers, and official documents that went through postal system and whose origin, destination, or both were either within the city or in the military fighting the enemy.
The blockade of Leningrad by German, Finnish, and Spanish armies during WWII resulted in unprecedented loss of life. Most of these deaths occurred among civilians and were caused by catastrophic starvation. Despite the deterioration of services in the city and difficult situation of the troops, the delivery of mail remained a high priority for Soviet leadership, and it operated rather well throughout the blockade. In addition, during the blockade, Leningrad publishing facilities produced about 1,500 different picture postcards and stationery, and these postcards and letter sheets were often used for communication. The city was defended by three Fronts (Groups of Armies in American terminology): Karel ian Front, including Northern Fleet; Leningrad Front, including Baltic Fleet; and Volkhov Front east of Shlisselburg and the Ladoga Lake. Mail to and from all these military formations is represented in the exhibit.
Almost all printed materials and private messages were censored and did not mention the suffering, destruction and gory details of survival and death in the city and at the frontline. Nevertheless, the material on display shows the human side of the siege, the heroism and the courage of the Leningrad defenders. Research of postal history of the displayed items includes the identification of censormarks and other markings, of Army and Navy field postal stations (FPSs and NPSs which existed before 1943) and offices (FPOs), the location of military units, as well as identification of individual correspondents whenever possible.
The organization of the exhibit illustrates the following stages and aspects of the blockade:
I. Before the siege
II. During the siege: 1. Army and Navy; 2. Symbols of tragedy; 3. Remembering the pre-war past; 4. City defense; 5. Everyday life; 6. Evacuation
III. After the siege