Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad now known as Saint Petersburg, lasted close to 2 1/2 years, 872 days. The German troops encircled the city September 8,1941. By encircling the city, food and resource supplies were cut off. In just one month the cities coal and oil supplies had been spent. Cold and hunger were the cities greatest enemies, civilians resorted to using anything and everything to stay alive. Buildings were stripped of access wood and floor boards to use as heat and even things such as saw dust, pages of books and cannibalism were resources for nutrition. Russian civilians mot only battled hunger and the cold but Germans bombarded them with air and artillery attacks. The siege killed an estimated 1,000,000 people, and was a major event in World War II.
Eye Witness History
Waiting for what was to come played a huge part in everyone's sanity, on both sides of the siege. Citizens of Leningrad had to keep sheltered not knowing when the next attack would be. There was little time for leisure, those that were eligible were enlisted in war, those that were not stayed inside and under the radar. German troops would sometimes force their way into homes and have a little "fun" with the girls in the house. For example Abendroth went into the home where the girls were staying and raped them for his own pleasure (pg. 130).
The winter was brutal, extreme temperatures killed many people. Civilians used anything they could to stay alive, buildings were first stripped of excess wood, such as furniture and shutters, then torn apart little by little, floorboards, wall paper anything that could burn and would provide heat. For example Lev explained that there was no more wood in Leningrad, all of the signs, wood slats and park benches had been removed and used as firewood(pg. 7).
Hunger and Cannabalism
Hunger was among the greatest enemies of the Russians. Cannibalism was common, when a family couldn't afford to feed a pet anymore, the pet fed them. People did not want to die and would eat others to keep from dying of starvation. The "food" that people were eating sometimes did not contain any simple food materials, like wheat and sugar. The ration bread that they were given was usually made out of sawdust and water, containing no nutritional value. For example Kolya wasn't able to poop for close to two weeks, because of the lack of nutrition in his diet (pg.241).
Hunger and Cannabalism
Before the War
Before the war Lev lived with his family in an apartment in the city. His father was a poet, making an income and putting food on the table. They would host parties and his father's friends would get drunk and smoke, while discussing literature (pg. 165). Lev was not treated any differently than the other kids his age, he lived a normal life.
During the War
During the war Lev had to man up. Kolya had a great influence on him, his manly ways and experiences made Lev want to be just like him. Lev dealt with hunger and the great task from Colonel Grechko to find the eggs (pg.34). Because Lev was a small and scrawny boy he didn't have the strength to bare arms and trek long hours. Pre war Lev did not have to take responsibility for anything he was not the man of the house, he was just a small regular old teenage boy.
Post war Lev had to deal with the loss of Kolya, and his missing half of a finger (pg.255). Life after the war was as normal as normal was ever going to come, Lev shared an apartment, strolled through the city streets on state holidays, and eventually met up with Vika again(pg.257). Pre war Lev lived with his family, and led a reserved life, similar to his post war living conditions. Any living conditions would have been better than the starvation and freezing during the siege.
Before the War
During the War
Journal #2-Emotional & Physical Challenges
Throughout the journey of finding the eggs there was a major strain on Lev and Kolya's physical and emotional capabilities of dealing with the war. The war played a huge part in Lev becoming a man and Kolya freeing himself as an author, having the courage to kill Abendroth, and the bravery to claim the courtyard hound as his own. From setting the sheepdogs out of there misery, to playing chess with the cruel man who tortured Zoya, they experienced it all.
Kolya had a heart for dogs, his story the courtyard hound made that very apparent. When Lev and Kolya saw the suffering sheepdog, Kolya intuitively set the dog out of his misery by killing him. This was an emotional and a physical challenge for Kolya because of his great love of dogs, but by slicing this dogs neck he was helping him, and releasing him from his suffering. The story of Zoya was a nightmare that will live on in Lev and Kolya's mind. Zoya stood up and tried to run away because she was sick of the sexual torture, due to the weather and malnutrition she didn't make it very far. When Abendroth found her he punished her and sawed off her ankles. This was an excruciating physical challenge for Zoya, but also emotional, being tied down and unable to stop what was going on. Playing chess with Abendroth was an emotional strain for Lev. Lev was very good at chess and knew all the right moves to win, when Lev recived the signal from Vika and Kolya that it was time. launching himself across the room, heart racing, adrenaline pumping, he killed Abendroth. He had never killed anyone, and the picture left in is head after that would never be erased.
Journal # 3- Essential question
Lev a Jew posing as a gentile, Vika a girl posing as a boy and the three of them literates posing as illiterates. The war changed each of these peoples identities. Being able to read and write is not something that you would want to hide, but because this would set them apart they hid there talent. Levs religion wouldn't have mattered in before the war but because they were viewed as different during the war he wanted to diminish any Jewish signs about himself. Vika's gender also not important in everyday life, during the war women were usually used for sexual pleasures, so posing as a boy would spare her from that experience. During the war people changed and lied about there identities to stay alive and fit the mold of the person who will experience the least hardships.