Thousands watch Leningrad siege re-enactment

Gunfire crackled and tank shells boomed in a snowy field outside St. Petersburg on Sunday as hundreds of people re-enacted the World War II battle that broke the Siege of Leningrad, marking the battle's 65th anniversary.

About 4,000 spectators, including survivors of the 900-day Nazi blockade, gathered near the village of Nikolskoye to watch the re-enactment.

The siege began Sept. 9, 1941. German troops surrounded the city, then known as Leningrad, choking off supply routes. An estimated 1.5 million people perished — most through starvation.

The re-enactment replicated Marshal Georgy Zhukov's offensive of Jan. 27, 1944, part of the operation that created a supply channel to the besieged city, ending the siege.

The re-enactment was organized by St. Petersburg's Epoch, an association that unites hundreds of people fond of re-staging famous battles and other events. In Russia, and particularly in St. Petersburg, the date of the end of the siege is widely celebrated

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