Thank you very much for the detailed reply. I was totally unaware of these facts. My reference book does not mention the bad damage caused by the war. I honestly thought that the Palace survived relatively unscathed, as it was so close to the city.
This is just another example of what really amazes me about the Soviet era.
They regarded the 300 year rule of the Romanovs and everything they stood for with utter contempt and try their best to obliterate that part of Russian history , sell off the priceless palace collections, and do their utmost to destory their culture, yet as soon as a beautiful Romanov building is damaged they spend years lovingly restoring it to its former glory ! No expense spared.
Thank God they did, but it is a total contradiction.