Refugees in Leningrad and City Housing Policy in the Initial Stage of the War and the Blockade

Keywords: Great Patriotic War, blockade of Leningrad, refugees, housing policy


This article investigates refugees in Leningrad during the initial stage of the Great Patriotic War (June – December 1941). A significant number of scholarly papers consider the evacuation process of Leningrad residents in 1941–1942, but research on is inexistent. At the end of June 1941, an unregulated flow of people poured into Leningrad; this required not only their speedy evacuation inland, but also brought to the fore the problem of the temporary resettlement of tens of thousands of rural and urban residents. The city was not fully prepared to solve this issue. Considering the state of Leningrad housing stock on the eve of the war, the author emphasises that the city authorities relied on the regulatory framework, which meant that residential buildings had to be used not only by state, cooperative, and public organisations, but also by departmental structures. The appearance of refugees in large cities required appropriate decisions on the level of the highest authorities. The archival materials indicate that leaders on various levels adopted a set of resolutions aimed at preventing the concentration of refugees in Leningrad. Governmental structures dealing with this problem, in addition to prohibitive measures that made it difficult for refugees to enter the city, made several organisational decisions meant to provide the necessary documents, food, and housing. To accommodate people, schools were turned into dormitories. Refugees got the opportunity to obtain temporary residence permits and ration cards, without which existence in the besieged city was impossible. At the same time, the evacuation of refugees from Leningrad region and the occupied bordering territories was actively carried out. An analysis of the documents demonstrates that, despite the measures taken, it was not possible to solve the refugee problems. Neither their evacuation, nor placement in dormitories, nor moving in with relatives or occupying vacated apartments could prevent the mass death of people who were not provided with material supplies.

Author Biography

Mikhail Khodyakov

Dr. Hab. (History), Professor, St Petersburg State University.

7/9, Universitetskaya Embankment, 199034, St Petersburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0001-8469-2590


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How to Cite
Khodyakov, M. (2022). Refugees in Leningrad and City Housing Policy in the Initial Stage of the War and the Blockade. Quaestio Rossica, 10(2), 455–468.
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