Siege and Survival: The Odyssey of a Leningrader

Siege and Survival: The Odyssey of a Leningrader

Siege and Survival: The Odyssey of a Leningrader

Siege and Survival: The Odyssey of a Leningrader

Synopsis

To be a Leningrader is to have a " distinction which is as rare as any human being possesses. "- Fromthe Foreword

In the siege of Leningrad, August 1941–January 1944, between 1,100,000and 1,500,000persons died, of hunger, of cold, of disease, of German bullets, bombs, and shells. The unprecedented magnitude and suffering of this most devastating of all episodes of war has been told by Harrison E. Salisbury in his recent best-seller, The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad. Yet, as Mr. Salisbury notes in his Foreword to this book, "the best way to feel the Leningrad epic is to read it in one of the diaries and that of Madame Skrjabina is outstanding in this regard."

Elena Skrjabina, a young graduate student and mother of two boys, had lived in Leningrad most of her life. Her eyewitness account covers the first winter of the siege, her escape over frozen Lake Ladoga with her mother, two children, and old nurse, and the odyssey of her flight for survival to the Caucasus, where in August 1942she was captured by the Germans and again faced an uncertain future.

Excerpt

When the 900-day siege of Leningrad was finally lifted and the gaunt, brave survivors had basked a bit in the fitful spring sunshine, the Soviet government made one of its rare graceful gestures to these heroic people. It awarded to the survivors (and to some who did not) the Medal for Defense of Leningrad.

So far as I know it played no favorites in this. Those who had chanced to come through alive got the medal (many of them to their great surprise). in all more than 300,000 medals were passed out -- and it may sound like a very large total. But when you consider the fact that something like 3,300,000 persons were trapped within the siege lines when the long blockade began on September 8, 1941, the number is not so large. of course, between 1,100,000 and 1,500,000 persons died during the siege -- of hunger, of cold, of disease, of German bullets, bombs, and shells.

The Leningrad medal does not seem to have been awarded to Leningraders who spent the terrifying months of November and December 1941, and the incredible January, February, and March of 1942 in the city but who were toward the end of that period evacuated at enormous peril and under such hardships that tens of thousands froze to death or . . .

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