Siege of Leningrad

Izzy Usle

Background

The Siege of Leningrad was a German attack on the city of Leningrad, also known as Piter. It lasted approximately 900 days and killed around a total of an estimated 1,000,000 citizens. While the amount of deaths are staggering, the siege was mostly conducted by starving the residents into submission and cutting off supplies. This led to a huge amount of casualties due to starvation. In addition, a constant barrage of bombs hit the city, causing both physical and emotional damage.

Hardships

Journal #1-Hardships and Hunger

Many people in Leningrad consumed things such as pigeons and "family pets", stated in page 7. This was one of the many hardships faced by the people of Leningrad. People dealt with with the hunger with library candy and ration bread made with sawdust. One big problem was the cold, shown in page 15, where it's determined that the German pilot froze to death in the air. They dealt with it with burning books and furniture. They had to deal with the constant dogfighting and bombing as well, by learning to run to the bomb shelter. Lev, Vera and the twins of the Kirov all dealt with these hardships,
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Life Before War

In the book, Lev describes life before the war. On page 7, he talks of the "feasts" he had eaten prior to the war. He speaks of "buttered bread... potato dumplings... (and) sausage." He says he thought he was poor before, which shows Leningrad's mild prosperity.
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Life During the War

Lev's life during the war is clearly shown in the book. While he was walking through the streets, he talks of seeing bodies in the street, "...a small body wrapped in blankets... a bloodless bare foot dragging..." on page 42. This shows that life was very difficult during the war. After Lev and Kolya are sent on their mission for eggs, they are sent on mission that lasts about a week, they have to leave the city, only to face the dangers of opposing German troops, leaving Lev with only part of his finger, after the chess match with Abendroth.

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Life After War

Lev describes his life after the war in the book. On page 258, the character Vera brings eggs to Lev's home. They discuss making an omelette, which is a stark difference from the food-less days of the siege. As well as in the testament given by Anna Andreievna, which tells that while the hospital used to look like a "hospital- just hell" it looked finally like a hotel again. She also talked about her weight, which went from "seventy kilos to forty kilos... (to) sixty-two kilos (after the siege)."

Journal #2- Physical and Emotional Challenges

The horrors of war in the Siege of Leningrad caused both emotional and physical challenges. In the book, Lev and Kolya run into a sheepdog, which was maimed after it was trained to act as a bomb, resulting in it being shot. Kolya had to put the dog out of itś misery. The second horror of war was the story of Zoya, who was a young girl forced into prostitution. When she escaped, the Germans caught her and cut off her feet in punishment. The final challenge was the chess match with Abendroth. Lev had to kill Abendroth or be killed, and he was struggling on if he could kill him.

The physical challenges of the war stories is a very important side to see. The sheepdog had a physical challenge. The story of the sheepdog was physically taxing to the dog who was wounded, and dragged itself through the snow. The story of Zoya physical in the way that Zoya was mortally wounded by the loss of her feet. The chess game with Abendroth was possibly the most challenging physically. Lev had to kill Abendroth, using a lot of strength to end his life.

The mix of both emotional and physical challenges made war a very difficult scenario to live through, and the characters of City of Thieves are put through a very difficult and scarring series of events.

The emotionally challenging aspects of the war were equally atrocious. The sight of the sheepdog not only upset Lev, but forced Kolya to put it out of it's misery, which as upsetting. Zoya's story was also emotionally challenging, for both Zoya, who was emotionally broken, but the fear it put fear in Lev and Kolya's hearts. Lastly, the chess game was a huge emotional challenge. It forced Lev to kill someone, not to mention that the suspense of trying to figure it out when to kill someone.

Journal #3- Essential Questions

The war plays a role in creating and destroying national identities. Vika, who in the era would be seen as a subservient woman, becomes a hardened sniper. The war brings her into a role mostly reserved for men. Meanwhile, Lev, who before the war was a virgin teen, turns into a man by being forced into a tough role of a soldier. Kolya was also in a different role before the war. Before, he was a liar and was very full of himself. Through the war, he became became a mentor to Lev. Through the war, the people of the story create new roles and destroy old ones withthe war's influence.