19

Red Sky at Sundown


Do you remember, my quiet one, our long walks through the forest—through the forest of that dying August? The silvery trunks of the birch trees stretched up like palms, with their gold-green crowns fresh-dipped in blood pressed close to the red and purple aspens. And the fine-textured hazels branching over the surface of the land like green gauze. A holy solemnity breathed beneath the vaulted arches of that cathedral.

Do you remember our deep-searching conversations, my distant but always present friend? The Holy Spirit, and the teachings of Christ against what is opposite to them—that was what interested us most. And we walked along through the cornfield near that forbidden grove, intoxicated by the blazing sunset, rejoicing that the question had been settled, that we had both arrived separately at the same conclusion. Then our thoughts flowed like the blazing streams of the firmament and we caught each thought with half a word. The roots of our hair tingled with an inspired, cold, yet flaming rapture. Shivers ran up our spines.

Do you remember, my like-minded brother, the bulrushes in the black creeks? We stood silently on the steep bank and listened to the mysterious whispers of the evening. An unspeakable, exultant secret grew in our souls. Yet we did not say a word about it, speaking to one another only by our silence. And then . . .

Now it is winter outside. I am working beside a lamp and the evening light in the window is blue and grand, like Death. And as if faced by death I am tracing the whole past once more; once more I am stirred by an otherworldly joy.1


Pavel Aleksandrovich Florensky, the young Russian who wrote this introduction to an article sent to a friend was one among many who saw a red sky in the 1920’s. One among many to ponder spiritually inspiring times in the past, imminent death, and the joy of eternal life. And after he wrote this, Pavel was one among untold millions to disappear in the Gulag, “his identity a nameless number, on a list that later got mislaid.”

Yet for the time being, during the 1920s, Russian believers did what they could.

Go!

By 1921 foreign relief organizations had come to the rescue of Russia’s starving millions. Lenin introduced a new economic policy and for a time it appeared that the revolution had indeed brought changes for the better.

Seeing nothing but open doors, the believers in Petrograd (after Lenin’s death, the city became Leningrad) mailed out fifteen thousand monthly copies of Khristianin and their Bible School grew to accomodate over two hundred students at a time. For lack of teachers no more could be accepted and those who came could only stay one year to make room for more.

In the years following the first graduation in 1922, four hundred and twenty students who completed their classes at the Bible School went out as full time evangelists. But the Russians’ hunger for the truth was so great that far more than “trained missionaries” had to do the work. Andrey Petrovich Sukkau of Samara in the Saratov region was one of them.

Boots from Jesus

Andrey attended a Mennonite school for seven years as a child. He married young and began to farm. But when he met Christ it became clear to him what he needed to do. He sold his farm and set out with his wife and children to bring the message of Christ to the villagers. Wearing a rubashka and cord belt he learned how to thatch straw and plaster mud walls with his hands. From the Saratov region he worked his way through peasant villages in Orenburg and Tashkent, to the city of Ufa, and eastward through Siberia.

Everywhere he went, Andrey found the people so anxious about their salvation they made it hard to work among them. In low-ceilinged stuffy rooms, packed to where people sat on the furniture and in the windows, he often spoke about Christ until ten in the evening, only to have them beg with tears to keep on longer. Even at midnight or two in the morning they sometimes begged him to keep on to the break of day.

On Days of the Resurrection he normally spoke to crowds of villagers in the morning, to young people in the afternoon and during the night he got “Nicodemus” calls.

On a cold day (38 degrees below zero) in Siberia a messenger brought Andrey a telegram calling him to come at once to a far distant village. A congregation of believers had fallen into disunity and wanted Andrey to come and restore peace. He hesitated. The cold was murderous, and he had only poor clothes. “Lord Jesus,” he caught himself praying, “If you want me to go, please send me a pair of felt boots.”

The next morning, still undecided what he should do, he saw a horse and sleigh coming down the snow-covered street. A man he did not know called out, “Is this where Andrey Petrovich lives? Someone has sent him this pair of boots.”

Andrey was ashamed, not so much for what sounded like a selfish prayer, as for how much its direct answer startled him. He went at once to the village and after three days of common fasting and prayer the division was healed.

The North

Evangelical believers came to know far northern Russia through an unusual “accident.” An itinerant carpenter, a German speaking Baptist, who used his trade to spread the Gospel, had his wallet stolen while traveling east on the Trans-Siberian railroad in the fall of 1917. After that he went to sleep and missed the station where he had planned to get off. Without money and not knowing where to go he wandered into a large village.

It was the Lord’s day. A group of refugees from Volhynia (Russian territory taken by Austria-Hungary during the World War) had camped in the village and some believers were holding a service among them. In the service, the carpenter met a newly married man, Ivan Peters.

While stooking grain the week before, Ivan and his wife had discussed what they should do. “Should we leave our work on the farm and go out among the people?” they wondered. “If so, when should we start, and where?”

Their answer came from the carpenter. He told them about people in the far north to whom the Gospel of Christ had never come. With Ivan’s sister Yelena, a young man named Vanya Kehler, and several others, the Peters set out for the east. This is the story in their own words:


Our brothers accompanied us to the train station with prayers and singing on May 24, 1918. It was during the revolution, and some bridges in the Ural mountains had been bombed out. Soldiers at Zlatoust held up our train for two weeks until we could proceed to Chelyabinsk. After a night in the train under constant bombardment as we crossed the front into territory held by the tsarist army we travelled on again and came to Tomsk. Here we met with believers. They gave us copies of the Gospels in Russian and helped us get passage on a river steamer.

The steamer headed north to the Narym region. In Tomsk we had learned that a believer lived about 450 verst north of the city. We asked the Lord where we should get off the steamer, and soon discovered that the believer’s brother was on board with us. He told us exactly how to get to the man’s house. The believer and his wife received us with great joy. They told us about the Ostyaks that live on the smaller tributaries of the Ob River. It was time for the yearly market and many of them had come on rafts with their families, to trade animal pelts and fish for flour and clothes.

At this place we bought a large covered raft and loaded our family with all our belongings onto it. None of us had any navigating experience and we needed to learn how to steer with a rudder. This voyage was especially hard because of the plague of mosquitos. The mosquitos came upon us in thick black clouds. At first we tried to slap them and chase them off, but we soon became weak and tired, especially the children. We travelled on the raft four days and nights until we got to the Ostyak camp of Sayspayevo.

No one took us in. They were afraid of us because the authorities had warned them that we might be criminals on the loose. So we had to sleep among the mosquitos on the raft, moored to the side of the river. But the next day, when they cast a big net into the water they let us help to pull it in and freely shared the fish they caught.

After that we found a place to stay. Semyon, an Ostyak fisherman and hunter, lived with his young family in a larger house. One half of the house was not done. We offered to finish it for him for the privilege of staying there for the winter.

In the name of Christ we took up the work and the fear of the people was soon overcome. We began to love one another. They came to trust us so completely that when they left for several weeks to gather hay they let us use the whole house. They learned to love the truth and were soon singing Christian songs with us.

In one of the biggest houses at Sayspayevo we began to hold regular meetings. A group of children let themselves be convinced to learn how to read and write. But it was bad to live here with our family because of the immorality. After nine months at this place some of us felt we should move further north into the taiga. We built ourselves a wooden house without nails or glass, for such could not be found here. We put cow stomache over the windows. From this place we travelled through the entire region, on horseback, on foot and on snowshoes in the winter. In the summer we travelled much by raft. Vanya Kehler and I did most of this traveling while the rest stayed at home.

We worked among both Russians and Ostyaks in the region, giving the few Gospels we had to those who loved the truth and who could read. The first joy in our work came with the conversion of a Russian neighbour who could read and who studied the Bible. His two grown daughters also got converted. But their mother was against them and persecuted them shamelessly.

Both in the Narym and Surgut regions we also found Old Believers who got banished to Siberia over the last three hundred years. They live in isolated places along the tributaries of the Ob river, far removed from roads and civilization. They hold the old traditions, such as not eating with outsiders and keeping their dishes clean. They spend much time in prayer and fasting and there are many good-living people among them. They work hard, raising cattle, tending bees, and farming, so that many of them live comfortably. A number of them have gotten baptized and are serving as witnesses for Christ among their own people.

For two years we stayed in the Narym region without hearing from anyone. No letters nor supplies came here from the outside, so we soon depended on the work of our hands. The great change from living on the steppes to living in the virgin forest required much learning and experiment. We began to earn our living by cutting lumber into boards and making furniture. Most people tanned leather and made their own footwear, so we also became tanners and shoemakers. The Lord gave grace for everything. Since no cloth found its way into this place, the people plant their own flax and make their own linen. My wife and sister learned how to make linen sheets and clothing for the family. Many times until late the whirring of their spinning wheels could be heard in front of the fireplace. We had no lights for lack of oil. Besides the spinning, my wife also taught our children how to read and write.

When the Ostyaks left on long periods to fish or hunt for cedar nuts we went with them. We worked all day. Then in the evening large crowds would gather around a fire. We would sing and I would speak to them. Some of them would stay until late at night to learn more about Christ. We made smoke with rotten wood to keep off the mosquitos. Dressed only in linen clothes during the cedar nut harvest, or during the ice fishing when it was thirty or forty degrees below zero, these meetings took place every night.

After five years the Lord enabled us to make a long trip. We travelled around one thousand five hundred verst in seventy two days. Many we met heard the Gospel for the first time. Some asked us to write down the words of Christ. They could not read but they said traders come through sometimes and could read the words for them.

On our trip we met difficulties not only through the wickedness of some, but also the great swamps and the snow. We found our way through the forest along the Chezhabka and Vasyugan rivers. Our only horse had to haul our tents and supplies through the deep unbroken snow. We walked either ahead or behind him. But when we came to the Ob river we could both sit on the sleigh and ride along on the ice, if the cold did not keep us from it.

After traveling a thousand verst we came to some believers who had heard of Christ through a shoemaker from the Chumensh region. The meeting gave us great joy. We stayed here ten days and fasted and prayed together. One brother who had lived in a comfortable two story house, but who had given it up to live in the north and work among the people decided to join us with his own horse and sleigh. He accompanied us for the remaining five hundred verst and stayed with us for some time at our home.

When we came back the women told us that someone wanted to buy our house. He wanted to pay us with grain which was worth much. So we took it and bought a raft capable of holding 300 pud. By May 2, 1923, with the Lord’s help, we had a roof built over the raft. We loaded our family and belongings, the supplies we needed, some sheep and chickens onto it. Before we left we had numerous meetings with all the Christians. Some begged us to stay, but we told them: “You have already heard the Gospel, and others need to hear it too.” So, after five years in the Narym region we travelled north along the Parabel and Ob rivers until we came into the Surgutsky region.

The water after the spring breakup was higher than it had been for thirty years. For long distances the forest stood in water. The trip took a month and ten days. Storms from the north caused high waves and the river carried many houses with it. On such days we had to tie our raft in a sheltered place among the trees. But one storm caught us unawares. We could not stop when it got dark and were carried along at the mercy of the waves so high they threatened to tip our raft over. God helped us where no human hand could come to our rescue, and after traveling five hundred verst we came to Aleksandrovsk where we decided to settle. During the first days at our new home we made a vegetable garden because it was already high time to plant. Then we visited the believers within a radius of about fifty verst and invited them to our first meeting at Melipulsky where we held communion.

Fifty verst north of Aleksandrovo my wife and I and a single sister stayed for some time in an Ostyak camp not far from the village of Lower Pasyol. We stayed with a young woman that could read Russian, in a tiny, very smoky house, heated by a small stove and that had only two small windows and a door. Her ninety year old grandparents lived with her. The old man still made sleighs, and the old woman spent her time spinning nettle fibres into fish nets.

The Ostyaks are peace loving people. In the Narym region most of them have joined the Old Believers. But in Surgut and elsewhere they still worship a god they call Torim and live in constant fear. They also worship the water god Yukur, and the forest god Lunkur. They offer horses to their gods, hanging the horse’s hide in some out-of-the-way place on a tree, and eating its flesh together. Deep in the forest they make wooden enclosures in which they set up carved statues, and make offerings to them. But they freely say: “Our gods do not help us. Who knows whether your God would do any more?”

These people line their fur or leather boots with soft grass instead of wearing stockings. They use soft pieces of Cheremucha bark for handkerchiefs. Instead of diapers they dry white rotted wood and stamp it into powder. They pack their babies into wooden boxes filled with this wood powder, and wrap them up, somewhat.

It did not take long until the young woman, a gentle and quiet person, loved Christ very much. She read the Gospels and translated them for her people. She learned how to sing Christian songs and we gave her a copy of the Gospels and a small songbook to keep. She greatly appreciated these gifts.

Our work in the Pasyol area was not fruitless. The Lord brought about an awakening and the number of those who believed rose to more than twenty. From that place we travelled two hundred verst to Surgut and another forty werst to the west to bring the Gospel to other villages and Ostyak camps. We walked long distances on foot because our horse could not pull us. On some days it was forty or forty five degrees below zero. But the Lord was good to us. In the old Russian town of Surgut it took two weeks for us to get permission to have a public meeting. First we had to consent to hold a debate, but after prayer and fasting the Lord opened the door for us and we had large meetings. The whole town was stirred and numerous people dug a Bible or a copy of the Gospels out of some chest to see whether what we said was true. We found a believing sister living in this town.

Other people we met here were the Tungus, who belong to the Mongolian race. They worship spirits and even the devil, yet one learns to love them. They come from the east, from the Yesey river, following their reindeer herds from swamp to swamp. They live in leather tents all year and survive from hunting and fishing. North of Surgut, up toward the Arctic Ocean live the Samoyeds and the Siryans.

During the time of high water in the spring of 1924 we traveled on our raft to visit the new Christians two hundred verst north on the Ob river. On this trip the Lord blessed us with a great catch of fish. We salted the fish and packed them into wooden crates we made for the purpose. Then the Lord answered our prayers and the first steamer that came by took us and our salted fish to Tobolsk. From there we travelled on a smaller steamer to Tyumen where the believers welcomed us. We sold our fish and were able to pay for our train fare to Orenburg. There we had a happy reunion with the brothers but our sixteen-year-old daughter died on this trip. Now we are back in the north and pray that the Lord would yet awaken many.

Why should thousands, even millions, die without having seen the Light? Has the grace of God become scarce? No, there is a scarcity of messengers, of the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation, of true love and compassion, and of a longing for Christ's coming again. Dear brothers and sisters, shall not the tribes of the north rise on the day of judgment and accuse us for not having been more prompt in obeying the call of Christ?

It is our responsibility, those of us who are the people of God in Russia, to work as long as it is day. Let us work in holy zeal to pay off our debt to our unbelieving neighbours so that we may go out with free consciences to meet Christ on the great day when he comes again!


The words you have just read are the last known record of Ivan Peters. He sent this letter south to Slavgorod in Siberia in the fall of 1925, but the “sky was red” and like Andrey Petrovich Sukkau and innumerable others he disappeared into the twilight of the Siberian winter leaving no trace behind him.

Pieces Together

While the Peters struggled to build the Kingdom of Heaven in the far north, those who desired to build it in central Russia faced no lesser obstacles.

Central Russia, after its Revolution and Civil War, lay in shambles. But in joyful contrast to its devastation, Boris Mazurin, Yefim Serzhanov, a Zavadsky family, two girls from Ryazan, and a handful of others discovered new life at Shestakovka, near Moscow, in 1921. Like Lev Tolstoy, they believed in peace and life together. Like him they wanted to live simply. And that, under the circumstances, was not difficult.

The “Tolstoyan” community at Shestakovka began in a huddle of abandoned buildings. Without tools, without seeds, without money, and nothing to start farming with than a team of seventeen-year-old horses and a dilapidated military cart the future could have looked grim. It did look grim, in fact, to everyone but the serious-minded, dedicated young people who set out to turn the teachings of Jesus Christ into action.

The Shestakovka people began by dismantling an old log building, cutting it up for firewood, and trading it on the streets of Moscow for food and supplies. From this they went to raising vegetables, cutting hay, and eventually selling milk to a government hospital. The community prospered at once. Within a few years dozens of others like it took shape and soviet officials noted with alarm how they surpassed in every way—in production, in morale, and in self sufficiency—what their collective farms had accomplished.

Yevangelsk

What soviet officials watched with growing uneasiness, Ivan Prokhanov saw with unbounded delight. Travelling through Russia he visited new communities and house churches everywhere—in the Don region, in the Caucasus, and in the far south along the border with Iran. “Everywhere,” he reported, “I heard people praying in their own language. They confessed that they had been robbers, immoral sinners or atheists. But everywhere they rejoiced for having found Christ.” In Odessa and Kiev, congregations of believing Jews took shape. And in Turkestan, Christian believers were asked to speak in mosques.

Only one thing troubled Ivan. Hundreds of new believers lived and sought to bring up their families in Russian cities. With this in mind, and remembering what had begun to happen at Vertograd, he wrote:


I feared it would be impossible for believers to realise the Christian way of life in the cities, with their many vices and irregularities and their fixed way of doing things. Perhaps some time the Holy Spirit will enable us to fully conquer and reshape these cells of the old life, but in the beginning it seemed to me that a suitable place should be found where our ideal of a new life could be realised in the form of a standard city, with standard villages and standard agricultural and industrial enterprises.


In a careful plan to be published in Khristianin, Ivan (making use of his skills as an engineer) described what he had in mind: a new city for believers in Russia. He proposed to call it Yevangelsk, City of the Gospel, or for its novel plan, City of the Sun.

From a large round park, over a mile in diameter, the streets of Yevangelsk were to radiate like sunbeams through surrounding urban and agricultural areas. Its only law was to be the Sermon on the Mount. Its only residents, members of the evangelical Church. Along the wide streets of Yevangelsk, bordered with fruit trees and many flowers, hospitals, schools, meetinghouses and dwelling places—all neat but modest, and none more showy than the rest—would stand. No firearms, no guns of any kind should ever enter Yevangelsk. Its people would live from the industry of their own hands, sharing what they produced, and in the land around it, believers would farm. If Christ would truly remain in the centre of the city, and the life of its society would revolve around him, their example would lead to more and more Christian cities throughout Russia and, Ivan believed, throughout the world.

Some Soviet officials, remembering Pyotr Kropotkin and perhaps feeling a touch of remorse for their bloody revolution, showed interest in Yevangelsk. They had already allowed a group of Molokans, returning from America, to begin an obshina in Central Russia. And since the idea did not seem incompatible with their ideals they even suggested a site for Yevangelsk at the foot of the Altai Mountains near the border between Siberia and Mongolia.

In August, 1927, Ivan left with great anticipation for Siberia. He met crowds of believers in every city along the way: Kazan, Yekaterinburg (later Sverdlovsk), Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novonikolayevsk (later Novosibirsk) and Barnaul. Everywhere the believers rejoiced with him as he showed them the officially approved plans for Yevangelsk. From Barnaul two brothers accompanied him south to great empty plains at the foot of the mountains where the Katun River flows into the Biya. There, with the brothers and local Soviet officials at his side he dedicated the centre of the great Sun City to Christ and planted three oak trees.2

It was September 11, 1927. Ivan felt lightheaded. Was this the greatest moment of Christianity in Russia? The beginning of a new dispensation for Christ’s Kingdom? But the sun, a ball of red, was going down.

A New Law

Not nearly all Soviet officials felt pleased about Yevangelsk and the fast-growing Christian community interest in Russia. They were not afraid of it being “visionary” or “impractical.” They were afraid it would work!

In a few years nonconformed believers had grown to perhaps five hundred thousand baptised members. (Some thought more.) All over Russia, they had become a familiar sight—neatly but modestly dressed families, women with their heads covered and bright-eyed well-trained children, singing on the streets, holding open air meetings or passing out literature. They did not drink or smoke. They lived frugal lives and worked hard.

“Are these people already doing what enlightened atheism is to accomplish?” Russians began to wonder. Particularly the “League of the Militant Godless” and the head of the Communist party, Yosef Stalin, looked at nonconformed Christianity with alarm. Then, on April 8, 1929, the Communist party passed a new law to govern religion.

Under the new law, Muslims, Christians, and Jews could meet as “religious societies” and the state would provide them with buildings—only after twenty or more people had applied and the local soviet had given its approval. Unregistered meeting places would be closed down. Minors could no longer be baptised nor subjected to religious propaganda. Pastors and teachers could speak only in the registered building of the congregation to which they belonged.

Sixteen of Leningrad’s seventeen evangelical meeting places closed down at once. Food and ration cards for ministers were withdrawn. Raduga fell into state hands and got closed down. All evangelism became illegal. And as in times that Russians remembered only too well, streams of people flowed east and north into prison camps in Siberia.

After the Communist takeover several million people (including twenty-five thousand Mennonites) had emigrated from Russia. Now emigration was impossible. People simply became “un-people” as they disappeared into the Gulag (the prison camp system) and their relatives feared to speak of them lest they get in trouble and sent off too.

Tens of thousands of believers died in the camps. Working unreasonable hours, without proper food or clothes, taking turns to lie on one another to keep warm in concrete rooms without toilets or beds, the camps were meant to kill. Separated parents and children usually did not hear from one another again.

During the dry years of 1932 and 1933 some Spirit Christians escaped on foot, by night, into Persia. From there they walked the full length of Turkey, found their way from Constantinople to Argentina, and walked across the Andes to Chile. But most could not escape. Perhaps as many as seven million people starved to death in the drought, but the Soviet government refused to admit a state of famine or accept relief from the outside.

On October 6, 1935 Ivan Prokhanov died in exile, in Berlin.

Purged

After Sergey Kirov a Communist leader got assasinated in the mid1930s, a great purge began. Yosef Stalin’s officials arrested, interrogated, tortured and sent to prison camps perhaps as many as twenty-five million people. In some camps officials shot a dozen, or as many as thirty people a day, to keep the rest fearful. Possibly ten million died—among them train loads of people set loose in far northern meadows “to graze”—while those at home applauded (out of fear) the end of the “enemies of the people.”

Children learned to spy on parents, husbands and wives on each other. Some who dared keep Bibles hidden did so with the knowledge of no one else in the house. Ten or twelve-year sentences for “religious offence” were rare. Believers usually got twenty-five years in the Gulag, and that was a death sentence. Even to pray silently before a meal could bring it upon one.

After a Mennonite funeral on the Molochna where an ex-minister dared to speak to the family about God in their back bedroom (a legal activity), he was reported by a neighbour for having left the door open a crack for others to hear. Neighbours reported one another if they heard a snatch from a Christian song. Only in registered meeting places could God be mentioned, and those in most Russian towns had disappeared.

Then things got worse.

Another War

On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler’s army invaded Russia. During the first two days the Germans shot down two thousand Soviet planes. They sprayed retreating troops with machine gun fire, and under incessant bombing, city after city fell.

A man named Willi used to help us on the farm, when I was a little boy, in Canada. He had been a Nazi soldier and we listened to him with wide eyes when he told stories: “After weeks of bombing, Kiev fell. We moved rapidly ahead. The Crimea fell, then we got to the Volga. In our first year in Russia we lost one million two hundred and fifty thousand men, but the Russians lost many more. At first we had it good. We went from farm to farm. When they had dinner ready we shot the people, stacked up the bodies, and sat on them to eat their food. Then we got to Stalingrad. . . .”

Willi saw, from one point of view, what all Russians had to see during the second World War. By 1941 the Germans had cut off supplies from Leningrad. Perhaps a million died from starvation in that city alone.3 Then, as tanks rolled in from Axis-controlled Poland and Austria-Hungary, Stalin ordered the evacuation of the German colonists from the Ukraine. Soldiers hustled six hundred and fifty thousand people, Lutherans, Catholics, and Mennonites east to Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of young men from Tolstoyan communities still existing in Siberia lost their lives for refusing to carry guns. But the tide turned at Stalingrad.

Where the Moravians had planted their peach trees and mustard fields at the Sarepta colony, the city now called Stalingrad4 had become an industrial metropolis. Not only the Red army, but its factory workers, women and children struggled to defend it against the Germans. The battle lasted seven months, until General Friedrich Paulus (disobeying Hitler) surrendered in February 1943 and the Germans, like Napoleon years before, began a hasty retreat. Winter roads were bad. They suffered from hunger and disease. With them, in open train cars, on foot, or in long caravans of skinny horses pulling wagons, the Germans who remained in the Ukraine (including the Khortitsa and Molochna colonists) fled west.

Stalin’s troops caught up with most of those who survived, and sent them to Siberia.

On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide and Germany fell. Russia had not fallen, but its suffering was comparable. Newspapers said twenty million Russians had died in the war. The number was too large to comprehend. The people were stunned. Silent among the ruins.

For many there was no way to turn, but to Christ . . .

1 The Pillar and Ground Of Truth

2 The Russian city of Biysk now stands on this location.

3 The siege of Leningrad lasted nine hundred days—the longest siege in modern history.

4 Volgograd today