Siege of Leningrad
The city of Leningrad was constantly under attack by the Germans. Air raids by Junkers 88 and other German planes had attacked the city daily. THe citizens of Leningrad were losing shelter, food supply warehouses and important buildings fast, and had to be on the move or prepared to move in case an air raid occurred above their heads. In the book 'City of Thieves' Lev loses his old apartment building thanks to a German air raid that occurred while he was locked in The Crosses. This shows how unpredictable and dangerous these raids were and how they could kill, and take away homes within a day.
Cannibalism and Starvation
Cannibalism and starvation were huge problems in Leningrad. The citizens of the Russian city were starving because the Germans had cut off all of their food supplies and made it almost impossible for them to get more food. Many of the citizens had resorted to eating their pets like in the book 'City of Thieves' on page 7 , and when the pets were gone, people resorted to eating people. In the book Lev had found a couple who hung human skin and meat up in the rooms of their apartment(pg 59). The only way for many of the Russians to get enough food, they had to resort to eating humans or they would too die.
The citizens of Leningrad were used to the winters of Russia but unfortunately they were not used to being in the midst of them with no heat or food because of the Germans cutting off their supply routes and forcing a shortage of coal and oil on the city. Many citizens died of hypothermia and freezing to death. Throughout the book, Lev complains of cold, and how even though he is dressed in a large coat, it still is very cold. In the book, the Red Coats often wrapped wool around their feet to try to counter the freezing conditions.
Cannibalism and Starvation
Journal 1- Hardships and Hunger
Before the War
Leningrad before the war was a pleasant city. Lev describes parties that his family had when he was still alive and still was a famous poet. His father and mother often had intelligent conversation on literature whilst drinking.
Leningrad during war was a mess. You'd see and hear bombers, you could hear the war and there were starving people everywhere. Lev describes Leningrad during war as if it were separated from the rest of Russia, and it was because of the siege, Lev also describes it, in a way, as barren but also crowded. The city was full of bombed down buildings and people on the streets looking for food.
The remaining people who survived the siege of Leningrad, had tried to rebuild it. Many people were offered new jobs and were able to find places to live. At the end of the book, Lev is now a journalist and is living in an apartment. He has rebuilt his life and has matured as an adult now that he has gone through all that he did, aka Kolya dying, the siege and killing other people.
Before the War
Journal 2- Emotional and Physical Challenges
List and describe the emotional and physical challenges behind the story of the sheepdog, Zoya, and playing chess with Abernoth
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.