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Strength Under Siege

Ramsey Hardin
The music you hear is
Leningrad, Dmitri Shostakovichs Requiem.
Seventh Symphony
The Leningrad premiere, on Aug.
9, 1942, was performed by
starving musicians and broadcast
over loudspeakers at the front to
defy the Nazis and hearten
Russian troops.
Abroad, it provided moral
redemption for Stalin and the
Soviet regime.
Shostakovichs music was not
merely a cry against the Nazis but
also against Stalinism: A
requiem for a noble city beset by
the twin monsters of the century.
The siege of Leningrad (the modern-day St.
Petersburg) lasted almost two and one-half
An estimated 1,000,000 city residents died.
Began on September 8, 1941 when German
troops completed their encirclement of the
The City of Peter and Lenin

Built by Peter the Great at the mouth

of the Neva River and on 42 delta
Provided access to the Baltic Sea.

In 1895, V. I. Lenin founded the Union for

the Struggle of the Working Class in St.
Petersburg; introduced Marxist Socialism
to citys workers movements.
The city was a focal point of revolution
including the Kronshtadt Mutiny on
November 8, 1904, and Bloody Sunday,
January 9, 1905.
Hitler explained the struggle
against Russia, March 1941:
It is a struggle between two
ideologies Communism
presents an enormous danger
for the future. A communist
has never been and never will
be our comrade. It is a
struggle for annihilation.
Soviet officials represent a
grave danger because they
have clearly proven through
their previous subversive and
seditious work that they reject
all European culture,
civilization, constitution, and
order. They are therefore to be
German Objectives

The capture of Leningrad satisfied three strategic goals in the

German Operation Barbarossa and Army Group North:
Occupy the former capital of Russia and symbolic capital of the
Russian Revolution.
Neutralize its military importance as a main base of the Soviet
Baltic Fleet.
Destroy its industrial strength, including numerous arms
"Hitler ordered us not
to enter the city to
avoid losses in street
battles, where tanks
were unable to take
part. Our German
troops, in fact, quite
comfortably and
easily, expected that
the coming famine
and cold would force
the city to surrender.
William Lubbeck,
German soldier
with Army Group
North; author of At
Leningrads Gates
Without Warning.
The blockade was sudden and unexpected, as much
as the war itself was unexpected for the country.
There were no reserves of fuel, no food... Then one
after another catastrophic event started to occur,
power supplies were stopped, there was no water, no
sewerage system operating, no central heating in
--Daniil Granin,
Russian writer and soldier; siege survivor
Hunger and cold
became the city's
Winter. greatest enemies. By
the end of September,
the city's oil and coal
supplies were
exhausted. The city was
without any central
heating. Water pipes
froze and broke, denying
the residents drinking
water. They cut through
ice to get water for their
One didn't worry; what was
Manners. the good? People didn't
wash for weeks; there were
no bath houses and no fuel.
But at least people were
urged to shave. And during
that winter I don't think I
ever saw a person smile. It
was frightful. And yet there
was a kind of inner
discipline that made people
carry on. A new code of
manners was evolved by
the hungry people. They
carefully avoided talking
about food.

Major Lozak, a staff officer

in the Red Army
Stalin ordered Marshal Georgy
Orders. Zhukov to save Leningrad.
If the city fell, 11% of the
national economy, the wealth of
the Hermitage Museum, and
the palaces of the Russian
tsars would be in enemy

German forces could unite with

the motivated Finnish forces,
drive through Northern Russia
and attack Moscow, which
might well win the war for
interference in the
organization of the
citys defense as
the Germans
hindered the
ground troops.
He saw plots
especially when
his generals
Leningrad and its suburbs,
Zhukov: with a population of 3.5
million, were flooded by
Three Tasks. 460,000 refugees from the
Nazi-occupied provinces.
Shortages of food and
munitions were critical.
Zhukov must
1. Stop the offensive before it
entered Leningrad city
2. Protect the fleeing civilians.
3. Reorganize the joint
command and civilian
resistance to prepare for a
lengthy siege
Zhukovs Executed inadequate
First Steps Strengthened the siege
Organized a special armed
regiment to shoot anyone
who retreated from the
Ordered the laying of dense
minefields and the
deployment of artillery
batteries in all critical
Redeployed fifty thousand
Navy men from the Baltic
Fleet for additional infantry
and reinforcements.
Zhukov launched attacks
and counterattacks to
harass and exhaust the
German and Finnish forces
on the siege perimeter to
the north and south.
These counteroffensives
stopped the enemy forces
after they had penetrated
the defense lines near the
seaport of Leningrad.
Zhukov's unceasing efforts
produced resultsthe
attack was stopped in its
tracks, but the fierce battle
was transformed into a
deadly siege.
For a Crust of Bread
One hard night in December 1941, at the bakery across from our house,
there was a bread line. People wrapped themselves in pieces of cloth. All
you could see were the tips of noses sharp from hunger. In the deep
silence people stood and patiently waited for their priceless pieces of
bread. They baked the bread in enormous ovens. The crusts fell over
and fell off in crumbs. The workers treated me to the crusts. I dont
remember how many crusts I ate. The smell of that bread has remained
with me forever. --Lyudmila Anopova, 11 years old during the Siege
"In those days there was
Something something in a man's
face which told you that
in a mans he would die within the
next twenty-four hours. I
remember how I'd walk
face every day from my house
to the center of the city.
Many a time I saw a man
suddenly collapse on the
snow. There was nothing
I could do. One just
walked on. And, on the
way back, I would see a
vague human form
covered with snow on
the spot where, in the
morning, I had seen a
man fall down.
--Major Lozak, staff
officer, Red Army
So many people died we had to
bury them without coffins.
People had their feelings
blunted and never seemed to
weep at the burials...It was all
done in complete silence,
without any display of emotion.
--Anna Petrova Ostroumova, staff
of Architects Institute
Road of Life

During winter there was

only one way out of the
city: across frozen Lake
Lagoda. It was the 'Road
of Life,' but it was also a
very perilous trip. Food
was brought into the city
across the ice and more
than one million people
were able to escape.
We got on a train at
Frozen. the Finland railway
station to take us to
Lake Ladoga. And
when we got off the
train, there were
crowds all sitting down,
all covered with ice, ice
pools everywhere. No
trucks came to take us
across Lake Ladoga;
there was a shortage of
them. Under the ice in a
puddle, in a hole, in a
Vladimir Klyucharev crater there was a
recalls when, in 1942, frozen woman with a
at the age of 11, he baby in her hands.
left the besieged

With fierce resolve, Leningrads citizens went

on with their lives. They worked together,
even clearing the streets of snow.
Childrens sleds carried the
School was held in bomb
Women dug trenches around
the city.
Broken. In January 1943,
Red Army soldiers
broke through the
German line,
rupturing the
blockade and
creating a more
efficient supply
route along the
shores of Lake

In early 1944, Soviet forces approached

Leningrad, forcing German forces to retreat
southward from the city on January 27. The siege
was over. A giant Soviet offensive to sweep the
USSR clean of its invaders began in May.
Nazi Aggression or Soviet Blunders?

Stalin willfully refused to prepare for an invasion, despite

countless warnings;
The delayed evacuation of Tallinn, which led to the
worst-ever Soviet naval disaster, with 65 ships sunk;
Deaths of thousands of young conscripts in the People's
Levy, who were thrown into the front-line with no training;
Failure to evacuate Leningrad until too late;
Criminal negligence in not stockpiling food.