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German Siege on Leningrad: Dark Times for all Comrades

The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest of the Second World War. In September 1941, around 400,000 civilians were evacuated from the city most of which being children. The civilians were assured that this siege would not be long as the enemies “were incurring heavy losses.” However, this was not the case, every able-bodied civilian was called to fight or dig trenches to fortify the city. The above photo depicts the soldiers using an Anti-Aircraft gun to defend against German Bomber planes.

Times were tough for the citizens of Leningrad as food and other resources like electricity became scarce. The Germans made sure to destroy all the railroads to cut off resources to the city. Rations became extremely rare and citizens were forced to eat anything including rats, birds, bark, and in some instances human flesh. At the end of the siege around 800,000 died of starvation and another 200,000 were killed in bombing or combat.

This seems extremely dark however in order to keep morale up the state turned to a unique style of propaganda. They would organize games and athletic events with extra rations as a prize. They also would film fit men and women competing and broadcast it to show the citizens that they remained strong. Another form of moral was poetry. Concerts and poetry sessions were broadcasted to keep people interested and busy. While some people remained positive there was also more grim forms of poems depicting the gruesome events occurring. In order to keep public morale high, the state was sure to shut down those who opposed the movement.

This was a dark time for the Comrades however, throughout the city there remains a plethora of stone monuments containing the words and poems of those who chose to write during this time.

Sources: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1943-2/900-days/ https://jacket2.org/article/poetry-after-siege-leningrad

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/91/Anti_aircraft_Leningrad_1941.JPG/800px-Anti_aircraft_Leningrad_1941.JP

4 replies on “German Siege on Leningrad: Dark Times for all Comrades”

The siege of Leningrad certainly ranks among the most dramatic and tragic episode of the war. Which of the framing questions for this week seems most applicable here and why? And how does the reading from Fuller (in the Freeze text) inform your take on the siege?

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I believe that the question regarding how Stalin’s Soviet Union was ill-prepared for war applies here. This brutal siege showed that they were unprepared for mainland attacks as well as food and other essential supplies were sent elsewhere instead of the city. Fuller also talks on how the Soviet army’s unpreparedness comes from a strong German enemy which applies in this case. Also, the lack of morale and leadership plays a role. After Stalin purged the officer corps in the 1930’s military leadership was impacted in a negative light causing more stress on the foot soldiers.

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I feel this can relate to how we are quarantined right now haha. We are cut off from other people, sources of income are gone, and in order to keep moral up, we listen to music and watch TV. While we are not in a war and still have access to supplies, we are still forced to stay inside and some people’s moral is low. People have lost their jobs and are unable to find new work. The people during the Siege of Leningrad definitely had it worse and I am surprised that people kept their heads up during it. We could definitely look at them as examples on how to deal with a crisis.

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I completely agree, the times we are facing now are crazy and it is interesting to look back and see how other people have lived especially during hard times. It is hard to keep motivated through these times and it makes you respect what others had to go through during their hard times.

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