Siege of Leningrad

Taylor Winter


The Siege of Leningrad was a horrific event that lead to the death of an estimated one million people. The Siege started September 8, 1941 and lasted about two and a half years. Hitler made the decision to strangle the city into submission rather than use their valuable resources on a direct attack. Not only were people dying due to attacks by the troops, but they were also dying of hunger, the cold, and just poor living in general. When people turned to cannibalism, the corpses could not be buried due to the cold winter, so they just accumulated in the streets and any other open areas. An estimated 11,000 died from being victims of cannibalism in November, and that number grew by about 42,000 in the span of about a month being about 53,000 by December.


Journal #1: Hardships or Hunger

In the book "City of Thieves" by David Benioff, Lev starts off his narration of the book by saying "You have never been so hungry; you have never been so cold. When we slept, if we slept, we dreamed of feasts we had carelessly eaten seven months earlier-all that buttered bread, the potato dumplings, the sausages- eaten with disregard, swallowing without tasting, leaving great crumbs on out plates, scraps of fat." (Benioff/Pg 7) Right off the bat Lev starts by telling about one of the many poor aspects of this time mentioned in the book, this one being hunger, and in this particular passage, about how him and other people took that food they once had for granted.

City of St. Petersburg also known as Piter

One way Lev described Leningrad was how they thought their lives were bad at one point (before the Germans arrived), and how that was nothing compared to what they were going to deal with. Before the Germans came, Lev described Leningrad as what appeared to be like any other place, there was nothing really special about it, but it wasn't a terrible place either. Lev then goes on to say how people thought Leningrad was "paradise" compared to what Leningrad turned into once the Germans came. "In June of 1941, before the Germans came, we thought we were poor. But June seemed like paradise by winter." (Benioff/Pg 7)

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During the War

Leningrad during the war was a very dark time when the people were fearing for their lives and were being treated like how the Germans felt they were, and had no respect for the people of Leningrad, and most people ended up dying for one reason or another, whether it was because they were killed by the Germans or because they starved to death. This quote (to me) shows how the people were thought of by the Germans and this thought reflected the way the people of Leningrad were being treated. "The Nazis had printed thousands of invitation cards to a grand victory party Hitler intended to throw at the Astoria Hotel after conquering what he had called, in a speech to his torch-bearing storm troopers, "the birthplace of Bolshevism, that city of thieves and maggots." (Benioff/Pg 89)

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Post War

After the siege ends, Leningrad celebrates and becomes a happy place again, despite what had happened 3 years before. Lev goes on to say how he continued to live his life as a free man who had grown to be the man he was by the end of the book because of all the things he had gone through during the siege and on his journey to find the dozen eggs. Lev had grown into an actual man, and he shows his new self in the last chapter of the book. "On the night of January 27,1944, more than tree hundred cannons fired an hour-long fusillade of white, blue, and red rockets, the brilliant, glittering tails lighting up all of Leningrad,the Russian colors reflected in the gold dome of Saint Isaac's and the two thousand windows of the winter palace. The siege was over" (Benioff/Pg 255)

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Journal #2: Enotional and physical challenges

The story of the sheepdogs told to Lev and Kolya could have had various challenges to be dealt with just because of what the story is about. The story of the sheepdogs was said to be about the dogs who were trained to search for bombs and were blown up. Not only could this be disturbing in a physical sense because these dogs were killed and probably had no idea it was coming, but also emotionally hard to understand because these dogs were used to help others but were killed in the process and that was ok to the people using them. Either way, this story was probably a hard one for Lev and Kolya to listen.

Journal #3: Essential Question

War can cause people to change, or at least say they are not who they say they are, and sometimes its to save themselves from what could happen if they said who they really were. Like in the book, Lev and Kolya are saying they are not who they are so that they do not suffer the punishments they may receive. This is not only a problem for Lev and Kolya, but also other people during this time period who knew they had to lie about who they were in order to survive or be free. Like in the movie "The Pianist" he says he is polish rather than mention he was a jew because he knew that he would probably been killed had he said he was a jew.