Siege of Leningrad
The siege of Leningrad was an absolutely horrific time in history. It lasted nearly two and a half years from September 8th 1941 until January 27th 1944, killing an estimated 1,000,000 city residents due to starvation, cannibalism, bombardments, the cold, or Nazi soldiers. The Germans were trying to purify their nation in a way by getting rid of all Jews and people with deformities. Hunger and the cold were the biggest issues people faced. Many of the peoples rations were cut 1/3 of the daily amount forcing them to find other ways to satisfy their hunger. Coal and oil supplies were cut by September so there was no heat and not many warm clothes to wear. A lot of them froze to death. The Germans were constantly bombing the city so the people never knew if they were going to be next or if they would make it to another day. As more people died the struggle lessened because for example, there was more food to go around and rations wouldn't need to get cut more.
On page 11 (second paragraph) in City of Thieves it talks about the bombardments of the city and how beautiful they were at night. Lev describes how the Ju88's and the Junkers were entertaining at night time to watch flying around until they got shot down by the German bombers. In chapter 2, on page 19 (second paragraph) Lev talks about his cell in the Crosses and how it really is the only silent place he's been in a while. The Crosses were very quiet compared to his usual environment with German lines constantly firing, people dying and groaning around. He says how those noises are really something that lets you know you're still there and alive. Page 110 Lev hears tanks heading his way and is filled with anxiety about it since he knows they are enemy tanks. Lev is told about his apartment building getting bombed on page 128, he creates a visual of what it was like for the people inside with some ambiguous ideas as to what happened to the people he had known. He was thinking about the concrete walls slamming down on them and the smoke and gas choking them as they 'beg for help'. Lev talks about the bombardments in such a way that it creates a very dark and gloomy feeling for the reader, almost like a 'wow I wish I didn't read' that because of the guilt one feels for them. Not only were the people cold and hungry but they were anxious for if the Germans were going to blow them up next so to say.
On page 55 Lev and Kolya meet a man that says he has eggs for them and makes them go up to his apartment to get them because "that's how he runs his business". A few minutes later on page 59 they get into the apartment only to find out this man has no eggs and nothing for Kolya or Lev. They spot big slabs of meat hanging from the ceiling which confuse Lev and Kolya because that is rare to find that much meat, then they realize the big slabs of meat are human legs. This sparks a fight between the man, his wife, Kolya, and Lev. They fight to escape these people, who are obviously driven insane due to hunger. Throughout the siege there were many other people just like these ones Lev and Kolya just so fortunately ran into.
Right on the first page of the book Lev talks about how cold it was and how the wind blew so viscously. Again on page 116 Lev talks about seeing a soldier far away standing knee-deep in the snow completely still. Lev couldn't even see the guys face but he knew he must've been dead because "No living man could pose like a statue in cold this severe." On page 118 and 119 Lev and Kolya approach a farmhouse close to the German border which they don't know who lives there or is staying there. They risk knocking to invite themselves in, this is very risky because if a German soldier had been staying there they would have been killed on the spot. They figure the need for warmth is much more important then the question as to if there is a German in the farmhouse or not. The severe cold has pushed people do to scary things like this. Also the emotional struggles of seeing a soldier or anybody for that matter frozen to death is horrifying.
Journal #1 Hardships or Hunger
According to City of Thieves, they which included Lev, Vera, and the twins consumed items like pigeons, family pets (page 7), others turn to cannibalism (page 59), or tiny scraps of bread (page 202), or muddy water (page 57) and things like that. The people of Leningrad had their daily rations cut down 1/3 of the daily amount. That's like eating only one meal a day instead of the three; breakfast, lunch, and dinner, mind you these meals would be small since they had to share with others and there wasn't very much food in the first place. The people were starving and not getting enough nutrients or anything that they needed to act normal and think right. The lack of food caused people to do unthinkable things like eat the family pets or kill their neighbors and chop them up for dinner. Now as you can imagine this has a major affect on their mental and emotional state.
City of St. Petersburg also known as Piter
Before the War
According to Lev from City of Thieves, life before the war was no piece of cake. People were hungry and cold all the time. Lev and his family talked about what was going to happen with the Nazis and such. They talked about who they thought would be better off restricting the amount of food they eat (page 7). Before the war the people were really antsy about how they would attempt to survive the siege like for example how Levs' mother asking him to leave Piter with her and his little sister (page 8).
During the War
During the war the city was what one would call a bit sketchy. People had to be careful where you walked in case they got caught or seen by a Nazi soldier. Like for example when Lev and Kolya were running away from the cannibals (page 61) and Nazi soldiers saw them and yelled at them. So many of the people were constantly scared; not only of the Nazi soldiers, but of each other too really. They never know if somebody is going to try and eat them or try and get them into some sort of trouble.
After the War (post war)
Lev says that after the war the city was beautiful. Everyone celebrated by watching red, white, and blue rockets, (page 255) like fireworks. The feeling was better then the way the actual city looked though. The feeling of finally being safe and okay, not worrying about somebody coming and taking the people away to a camp or killing them. The city became peaceful for once, which is something they all missed and needed.
Before the War
During the War
After the War (post war)
Journal #2- Emotional & Physical challenges
Throughout the war Lev and Kolya faced many challenges, physical along with emotional. Challenges like these can do many things to a person like help them grow into a better, tougher person. The challenges that Lev experienced really changed him into a 'man' and made him tougher in a way, but maybe these challenges were so horrifying that they weren't really worth it.
Some of the emotional and physical Lev and Kolya faced were the story of the sheepdog, Zoya, and playing chess with Abendroth. The sheepdog was a story that Kolya was writing, to sum it up, it's about a stray dog that lived in an apartment which the tenants were fine with and were actually taking care of him. One day an old man that had been feeding the dog and had never stepped foot outside of the building looks out to see the dog dead in the street and the man goes outside to get the dog. It was very powerful the way that Kolya had talked about it and was sort of a sad thing for him to be writing and talking to Lev about during their trip to find eggs. The story of Zoya, a young girl that was taken to get raped by German soldiers and had run away that got tortured, is really emotional. It's disgusting to think about that men would be that gross to rape a girl then when she runs away and they know she is going to die any way because of the cold they waste their time just to torture her even more. When Kolya and Lev heard that story they were probably so appalled by it, anyone would've been, or should've been. Playing chess with Abendroth was a whole lot of thinking and 'manning up' for Lev. Deciding on how to kill him because he knew he had to and what to do about it.
War caused a lot of physical and emotional challenges for Lev and Kolya, but not all of them were directed at Lev and Kolya. These challenges helped Lev grow into a man.
Journal #3- Essential Question
War destroys national identities by making certain people that are capable of things or just are some things such as a Jew try to change it or lie about it. Abendroth states: "Don't bother you passed Kuefer'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 the esteemed Obersturmfuhrer Kuefer, all these ruses have succeeded." -Excerpt from City of Thieves, page 221. Lev, Kolya, and Vika are all posing as things that they aren't to survive in the camps. They knew that if they let any of the German soldiers know that they were literate they would have been killed right away, so they pose as illiterate, if it was known that Vika was a girl they would have been separated, and if they knew that Lev was a Jew he would have been killed. It is very smart to pose as something that you aren't because it increases your chances of surviving.