Officially, Shostakovich dedicates his 7th Symphony to his beloved city of Leningrad and depicts 'the historic days of its defence against fascist oppressors'. But in reality, it is his personal indictment of the Soviet regime's violence against its own citizens and a tribute to its victims.
After the German army's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Shostakovich wants to roll up his sleeves: he digs anti-tank trenches around Leningrad and erects barricades, meanwhile working frantically on the start of what will become his 7th Symphony. And then the German blockade of Leningrad begins. Nearly a million people are dying of deprivation and famine – after the Holocaust, this will become the greatest tragedy of WWII.
“It's so unfair. People suffered, worked, thought. So much wisdom, so much talent. And they're forgotten as soon as they die. We must do everything possible to keep their memories alive, because we will be treated in the same way ourselves.” ― Dmitri Shostakovich, Testimony: The Memoirs
Symphony No. 7, op. 60, ‘Leningrad’