Siege of Leningrad

Mj Chouinard

Background

The siege of Leningrad was a horrific event in history. The siege lasted almost 2 and a half years, 872 days to be exact. It started on September 8, 1941 when the German troops had successfully encircled the entirety of the city. The siege cost the lives of over 1,000,000 citizens of Leningrad, or Piter. Rather than attack the city head on, Hitler decided to starve it out, and cut off food supplies and items needed for survival. The city went without heat, food and drinkable water as the harsh winter approached. Eventually the citizens of Leningrad turned on their pets as well as each other, and used cannibalism as a way for survival because rations were low and only made up 1/3 of the nutrients needed daily for an adult. During the siege, german bombers crowded the air and raids happened often. The decrease in population because of the deaths allowed the remaining citizens to have less strain and eventually the city celebrated the end of the siege in January 1944, when the Red Army pushed the Germans back far enough.

Hardships

Journal 1- Hardships and Hunger

Lev and the others had to deal with hunger in ways that many people don't understand. Many citizens had to eat their pets (pg 7) and things that had no nutritional value whatsoever just so they could keep their bodies functioning and keep themselves alive. Library candy (pg 46), ration bread, and rats were a common thing people of Leningrad, including Lev and the others ate.

Journal 2- Emotional and Physical Challenges

Horrors of War

List and describe the emotional and physical challenges behind the story of the sheepdog, Zoya, and playing chess with Abernoth


3 paragraphs

There were many emotional and physical challenges in the book City of Thieves that also reflected how many emotional and physical challenges there are realistically in war. Zoya, the sheepdogs and playing chess with Abernoth are examples from City of Thieves of emotional and physical challenges that Lev had to experience and others had to experience.

Zoya was an extreme case of both physical and emotional abuse. She was a young girl who was forced into captivity with other girls. They had to please German soldiers whenever the soldiers went to the house they were forced to stay at. Zoya went through more trauma as the soldiers really liked her. When she finally had enough, she tried to run away but got caught and had her feet sawn off by the soldier. Another exapmle of physical and emotioanl trauma is that of the Sheepdogs. The sheepdogs were trained to run after tanks and German deployemnts after they've been starved, and they would detonate any bombs. Killing the sheepdogs and scarring those who saw. The emotional side of things is that the opposing sides were literally sending dogs to their death. Playing chess with Abernoth was another emotinal challenge in the book. Lev had to play chess with a man he knew killed many innocent people. He also had to play chess with someone he needed to kill. He was in an emotional battle between killing him and not, and when he finally decided, he was too slow and ended up having to phsically fight him off. This resulted in pain on both ends of the spectrum.

In conclusion, physical and emotioanl problems arise a lot in City of Thieves, and in war. They can create battles within a person and completely destroy them but they can also make someone stronger. Fortunately, all of these problems helped shape Lev into the man he is now.

Journal 3- Essential Question

Essential Question:

What role does war play in creating and destroying national identities? Abernoth states: "Don't bother. You passed Keufer's test, good. I respect that. You are survivors. But I am not a stupid man. One of you is a Jew posing as a Gentile; one is a girl posing as a boy; all of you, I assume, are literates posing as illiterate. And despite the attentions of our vigilant mountain rangers and our esteemed Obersturmfuhrer Keufer, all of these ruses have succeeded," - Excerpt from City of Thieves, page 221


War plays a huge role in creating and destroying cultural and national identities. This is because war ends up being your entire life when it is occurring in your nation. It is what you hear most about and it is what you live in. Citizens who are in war have to become strong, and prepared for anything, this often means they have to drop their morals and values in order to survive. This destroys who they once were, and forces them to grow into someone who can handle war, if that's even possible. Examples in City of Thieves include Lev himself. He would never of had to choose whether or not to kill someone if it weren't for war breaking out. He went from a prepubescent child to a man in a short amount of time, which was forced upon him because of war. He turns into a man thanks to the gudiance of Kolya and the challenges he faced. Kolya went from a free spirited "deserter" to a deep thinking war hero becuase of the war and the challenges he himself faced. This is similar to almost anyone who goes through a war in their lifetime. Your original identity is destroyed and replaced by a new one because of all that you end up going through. Which is unfortunate because that contributes to countries getting completely made over in terms of identity. People get stereotyped even more and countries end up with biases.