The Story of Leningrad

How celebrating our histories are a form of resistance. Read the whole thing.

I was visiting the Museum of Russian History in Moscow last week, and a few days prior, in Paris, I joined my parents, sister and a few friends at a reading of Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic poem, Leningrad. This is the poem Dmitri wrote when he arrived in Leningrad in 1927 to complete his two-year-long program. By the time he was 20 years old, Leningrad had become the center of the Soviet Union, and he had already written more than 60 poems under various names.

Shostakovich died in 1931, and Dmitri was only 18 at the time he died. But his poem was a direct reflection of the spirit of that place, and of the people who lived there. I left that reading that night with a strong desire to share it with my son. That desire developed into something more, and now, I’m writing this blog, with hopes that it will be of some help to someone.

I first visited the Museum of Russian History in Moscow in August of 2011. I spent the day with some of the staff, and was surprised to learn that the museum had acquired the first film shown there. “It is a film that tells the story of Leningrad,” one of the Museum’s staffers, Marina, tells me, as we sit down for a coffee and conversation. As she explains the film, I realize what a treasure it is. It is an amazing, if brief, documentary on the work of the city’s citizens. The film begins with a series of drawings and paintings showing the city’s architecture. This is followed by a montage of still photographs taken in the city in the 1920s, showing the city’s streets, buildings and landmarks. The montage then moves on to films from the 1920s and 1930s, showing scenes from the Soviet period, and finally,

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