The Black Decade

The first years after WWII were the most dramatic in the history of the museum. On January 6, 1945, the Leningrad authorities decided to transfer nearly everything within the premises of the Winter Palace to the State Hermitage. As a result, in February 1946 the collections of the museum were urgently packed into boxes and evacuated from the Winter Palace. For a long ten years, most of the exhibits were packed away in the Peter and Paul Fortress and attics in the Marble Palace. Now one can only guess at the scale of losses the museum experienced in these years. This was one of the most challenging and tragic periods for the museum. Endless seizing of the museum's resources, known as “cleansing,” began with "vicious and politically harmful materials." These included documents, leaflets and posters of the non-Bolshevik parties and white movement, and photographs of "enemies of the people." In total, in the first post-WWII decade the museum lost more than 110 thousand exhibits and artifacts.