Academic journal article Military Review

Leningrad 1943: Inside a City under Siege

Academic journal article Military Review

Leningrad 1943: Inside a City under Siege

Article excerpt

LENINGRAD 1943: Inside a City Under Siege

Alexander Werth, L.B. Tauris, New York, 2015, 256 pages

Alexander Werth's gripping narrative delves into the siege of Leningrad. It presents a poignant example of the cruelty and horrors that are unique to military operations in a city. Alexander Werth, a correspondent for the London Sunday Times and the British Broadcasting Corporation, was the first Western correspondent allowed into the city immediately after the blockade was broken by Soviet forces in September 1943. The book presents a graphic story of the viciousness and destruction produced during the battle within the city.

It must be remembered that Werth's visit was after the worst of the siege and while Leningrad was starting to recover; he did not directly experience the siege. However, he visited a number of buildings, including the apartment he had lived in as a youth, and conducted a mixture of formal and informal interviews with the people there (both civilians and soldiers). In this manner, he was able to hear their experiences directly and weave them into an enlightening, comprehensive narrative. With its firsthand accounts, the book secures two positions in literature: first, as an authoritative historical document, and second, as a journalistic narrative of the overpowering grief and the futility of modern urban warfare. The book provides an unparalleled look at the conduct of modern warfare in heavily urbanized terrain.

Leningrad 1943 is written in Werth's perspective. He grew up in Leningrad and left Russia at the age of fifteen with his father, Adolph, in 1917, but he returned immediately after the "blockade" had been broken by the Soviet army in 1943. At that time, the German army was only three kilometers away in the suburbs south of the city. …

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