Siege of Leningrad
On September 8, 1941 Hitler and the Germans, instead of invading immediately, surrounded the city of Leningrad Russia to watch the city crumble. Life as one knew it had changed as the siege began. The cold weather was coming and the resources were getting cut short due to lakes, such as the Karelian Isthmus, becoming frozen making it hard to transport goods and the Germans surrounding the city. In order to stay warm, civilians were willing to burn library books and anything made of wood , that lasted over 872 days due to the siege. As November came around, hunger sparked up as food supply was cut, leaving people starving and desperate enough that one would eat a zoo animal, a family pet, or another, dead or alive, human. The Germans wanted to see the city and people of Leningrad struggle, so they used air bombardment to destroy warehouses which held most of Leningrad's food supply. As a civilian of Leningrad, Major Lozak stated that one could never shut his or her eyes, because the Germans could strike any minute, in any part of the dreadful city of St. Petersburg.
Many people evacuated the city of Leningrad before the siege became (page 8). Germans came with their Ju88 and started to bomb the city unexpectedly causing everyone to be on the look out for bombs falling from the sky. The Germans didn't want to enter the city because it was too expensive to do so, but that didn't stop them from attacking from the air. They targeted buildings, many which held things that civilians of Leningrad could use to live a longer life than they are planned. The Germans targeted places such as warehouses that held a lot of Leningrad's food supply, and also people's homes which people who remain alive could have been hiding in. The Germans also bombed buildings that citizens once called home, and that made people devastated to see one's childhood memories go away so fast. In the book The City of Thieves, Lev lost his childhood home due to Germans dropping bombs. Once he found out he went to see the remains of it, which made him sad (page 81).
Cannibalism and Hunger
The people of Leningrad could only dream about a full meal. The animals from the local zoo and house pets were gone by November, leaving little to no meat (page 7). People were eating whatever they found and often had to share with family or friends. Lev and his friends could never have a whole onion to him or herself, they had to eat 1/3 of the average adult's meal amount. But an onion was a decent meal compared to eating library candy, made of library books, or ration bread, which were not "real" foods. The civilians were so hopeless they were guilty of cannibalism. One would eat the dead corpses found everywhere in the streets or one would try to kill the remaining citizens alive and then eat their meat, even if one was really scrawny, they took what they got.
The siege of Leningrad would have been a whole lot different if it was set in the summer. But it wasn't. The Germans hit the city hard not only with bombs but with the cold winter coming their way. People used all the flammable stuff they could find, library books and wood, such as wood signs that use to hang in front of stores (page 7). People were dying from being cold, and not only in Leningrad. Red Army soldiers were dying too. Soldiers would freeze to death standing too long in a foot or more of snow where the Germans would find them and be glad that one more of their many enemies were died (116 and 117). The cold was raging upon Lev and others, making them suit up in anything they could find. Due to the water pipes freezing they could not bath which results in reeking layers of clothes and the human wearing them. One situation that winter was a good thing was it had been easier to not be exposed under all the clothes one would wear. In the war, being completely exposed could tell someone who you were and would get you killed in less than a second.
Cannibalism and Hunger
Journal #1; Hardships of Hunger
As one of the main hardships of the siege of Leningrad, hunger was one of the main focuses in the book The City of Thieves. In the beginning one of the main characters, Lev, and his neighbors/friends Vera and the twins Oleg and Grisha taught people what it was like to live with hunger. As friends, they sat on the roof of their home, the Kirov, waiting and watching for the German bombers to come and ruin one more piece of the city of St. Petersburg (page 8). As hunger raged the city, family had to be family and friends had to be friends and share what they had found for food. Before going on the roof Vera found a half of an onion and they all shared it each receiving 1/4. With their onion, they also split some ration bread with summer oil, 4 ways (page 11) . Ration bread was a sawdust tasting bread and its recipe included anything around the city that could not poison humans. That was their meal, but if one got lucky they would of got some pigeon meat. People were so hungry they ate their own pets, and afterward they didn't cry, they laughed , hunger in the siege of Leningrad caused people to do unexpected things (page 7).
City of St. Petersburg also known as Piter
Journal #2- Emotional and Physical Challenges
The war brought pain among everyone, not just the people of Leningrad. One would get physically shot or burned, but others would become emotional due to experiences they went through. For example the siege, caused people emotional pain by the sound of the bombs, being hungry, or seeing people die or corpses piled on the ground. There were experiences which one would never forget. In the book The City Thieves Lev and Kolya went through a lot of experiences which caused him emotional and physical pain.
The Germans would train dogs to search for food under the Panzers and then not give them food and starve them, and once the tanks came they would let dogs free but the mines which were attached to them would blow up (page 111). When Kolya saw all the died dogs and one dog which was suffering, it caused him emotional pain. Kolya loved dogs, he told Lev that through his story The Courtyard Hound. At the end of the book the hound that the community loved died, and a man who never left his house for seven years who fed him and loved watching him guard, finally left his apartment and buried the dog. That connected to Kolya's challenge of seeing the sheepdog suffering, which Kolya later killed with a knife so it would stop aching (page 239 and 240). After walking through the never ending woods of the Russian borderline, Lev and Kolya found a farmhouse where they met four girls about their age. The girls were Russian slaves who were force to feed, clean, and "entertain" Germans in combat. Lev and Kolya asked why they haven't fled the house and leave for the city when the Germans weren't there, but the girls told them that there use to be five of them (page 129). Her name was Zoya. She was the prettiest of the five girls. She got raped every night by a German soldier and would cry herself to sleep if she even fell asleep. She got to the point where she couldn't take it anymore and tried to escape, but she was too slow and the German soldiers found her. Once they found her, they held her down and one of the officers of the group that was there, sawed her feet off leaving nothing but her the memory of her scream and blood all over (132 and 133). Lev couldn't believe what he heard. Throughout the rest of the journey of finding the eggs, all Lev would think about was Zoya, the Russian girl who got her feet sawed off by Germans. Every time Kolya would talk about the Germans, Lev got really emotional. Hearing Zoya's story only made Lev want to destroy the Germans even more. After the farmhouse Koyla, Lev, and Vika kept going on until they got only a few feet away from their target ,a German killer named Abendroth. Abendroth saw right threw their lies, Vika wasn't a boy, Lev was a Jew, and all three of them were capable of reading and writing (page 221). But what he didn't see was their plan on killing him. Their plan succeeded by physically killing Abendroth and his officers. That resulted in Lev going throught the pain of losing his top half of his left hand index finger (page 232). You'd think that after Lev killed multiple people he would be emotional, but Lev wasn't. He proved that he was capable of becoming a man.
World War II not only created great physical and emotional pain for some people, but it also showed one that life is not perfect and what started as a little conflict could spread in to a national phenomenon which killed not only soldiers but mostly innocent, civilians of countries. World War II also taught one how to be strong and fight, because in the end you are granted to still be alive, just like Lev.
Journal #3- Essential Question
Discrimination was a very big factor in World War II. If one believed that Jewish people are terrible and don't deserve to live, everyone else did. Hitler was famous for that during the War. If one believed that women are not capable of being a soldier, that results in all men fighting while females are home working and taking care of the house and kids. People such as Jews identity changed, while the females identity got destroyed. The Jewish people went from being able to live as any other human, but war and it's leaders changed that, resulting in about 5 million deaths of Jews! For females, they were never given a second look at to fight in the war, and if they wanted too they couldn't because no one was stupid enough to let a female fight for his country. In the book The City of Thieves Lev was Jewish, but he wasn't a terrible human being. Vika was a female sniper who was given an opportunity of fighting for the Red Army, and she took it because she was capable of doing it and the captains saw it in her. When Abendroth on page 221, stated that he could see that Lev was Jewish and Vika was a girl, he acted as if they were misfits of the world and just saying that one is a girl or one is Jewish was a sin. World War II is famous for discrimination, some still remains today, such as women not getting paid the amount men do, or people treating Muslims the way people treated the Jewish.