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The Leningrad Blockade, 1941-1944

The Leningrad Blockade, 1941-1944: A New Documentary History from the Soviet Archives

Richard Bidlack
Nikita Lomagin
Translations by Marian Schwartz
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    The Leningrad Blockade, 1941-1944
    Book Description:

    Based largely on formerly top-secret Soviet archival documents (including 66 reproduced documents and 70 illustrations), this book portrays the inner workings of the communist party and secret police during Germany's horrific 1941-44 siege of Leningrad, during which close to one million citizens perished. It shows how the city's inhabitants responded to the extraordinary demands placed upon them, encompassing both the activities of the political, security, and military elite as well as the actions and attitudes of ordinary Leningraders.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18330-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Richard Bidlack
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Note on the Documents
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Soviet Terminology, Acronyms, and Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. List of Documents
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  9. Chronology of the Leningrad Blockade
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  10. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The battle for Leningrad and the 872-day blockade of the city by German armies and their Finnish allies during the Second World War rank among the most horrific events in world history. Next to the Holocaust, the Leningrad siege was the greatest act of genocide in Europe during the Second World War, as Germany, and to a lesser extent Finland, tried to bombard and starve Leningrad into submission. No city ever suffered more over a comparable period of time than did Leningrad during its epic struggle to survive.¹ Among the Soviet population, somewhere between about 1.6 and 2.0 million perished...

  11. CHAPTER 1 Leningrad During the Second World War and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 15-77)

    A traveler who happened to return to Leningrad in the spring of 1941, after having left the city at the start of the First World War, at the time of the October Revolution, or even as late as Stalin’s rise to power in the late 1920s, would have found it vastly changed. Although building façades in the core of the city, including those of famous historical landmarks, were much the same, almost nothing else was. Most dimensions of life in Leningrad, from political power to the economy, education system, mass media, culture, religious practice, and family relations, had been radically...

  12. CHAPTER 2 Who Ruled Leningrad?
    (pp. 78-183)

    The process of making major decisions regarding Leningrad was complicated. That Stalin’s word was absolute in the wartime USSR is beyond dispute, and almost without exception Stalin had the final say in important matters affecting Leningrad—but sometimes not before those executing policy in Leningrad had sharply differed with thevozhd’and his associates in the Kremlin. A great deal of tension also existed within Leningrad’s power elite. Party, military, and security organs were all part of the decision-making process, and each of these three branches acquired a stronger or weaker voice depending on the type of crisis facing the...

  13. CHAPTER 3 Policies of Total War
    (pp. 184-261)

    Perhaps no other city in history experienced the phenomenon of total war to the extent that Leningrad’sblokadnikidid. City leaders sought to control the people’s actions and shape their thoughts as completely as possible, especially during the first six months of the war, in order to keep the city from being erased from the face of the earth and to send weaponry and ammunition to other threatened fronts. The party, military, and NKVD went to extraordinary lengths to mobilize and propagandize the population and compel its strict obedience. Taken as a whole, their policies mobilized around two million people...

  14. CHAPTER 4 The Struggle to Survive: The Dying City
    (pp. 262-328)

    On 24 June 1941, a workshop cafeteria in the Kirov factory delayed serving lunch for over an hour because its shipment of bread had not arrived. An informant for the Kirovskyraikomoverheard one worker say to another: “It’s only the second day of the war and already there is no bread. If we fight for a year, we’ll die of hunger.”¹ The off-hand comment would become an eerie prophesy for many in half that time.

    Leningrad had experienced food shortages prior to the German invasion, and food and livestock had been diverted from the city in the war’s first...

  15. Photo gallery
    (pp. None)
  16. CHAPTER 5 The Popular Mood
    (pp. 329-367)

    This chapter describes the public’s response to the enemy’s siege tactics and to the official policies of total war examined in chapter 3.¹ The siege of Leningrad was a pivotal period in Soviet history. The city’s defense was precarious and strategically important. It is hard to imagine that the vast majority of Leningraders did not realize that the siege had ushered in a defining, existential moment for their city and perhaps for their nation. Staunch defenders of Soviet ideology and power were put to the supreme test, while those who had never internalized communist ideology and Soviet policies had their...

  17. CHAPTER 6 The Question of Organized Opposition
    (pp. 368-403)

    The existence of fluctuating degrees of pro-German and anti-Soviet sentiment in wartime Leningrad naturally raises the question to what extent those attitudes coalesced into active organized opposition to Soviet power through instigation either by enemy agents or by Leningraders themselves. That, in turn, raises another question: How reliable are NKVD assessments of KR activity?

    In Document 45 Kubatkin stated that from 22 June 1941, through the end of September 1942, the NKVD arrested a total of “1,246 spies and saboteurs planted by the enemy,” though it is unclear from this information how many were arrested in the city rather than...

  18. Conclusions
    (pp. 404-412)

    Access to Soviet-era archives in Russia and to other unpublished and published primary source materials, such as diaries and memoirs, and periodicals printed in the blockaded territory, affords a sharper and deeper understanding of a range of critical historical issues regarding the siege. It is now known with certainty that despite Leningrad’s isolation during the ordeal, the Kremlin was well briefed on a regular basis on major developments within the blockade zone. Even though Stalin taunted Zhdanov on 1 December 1941 that he contacted Moscow so infrequently that it seemed as if he and Leningrad were in the Pacific Ocean,...

  19. APPENDIX A. Daily Bread Rations
    (pp. 413-413)
  20. APPENDIX B. Official Monthly Rations for Food Other than Bread
    (pp. 414-415)
  21. APPENDIX C. Rations Actually Distributed Other than Bread, 1 January–31 March 1942,According to Leningradskaia Pravda
    (pp. 416-418)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 419-460)
  23. Bibliography of Sources Cited
    (pp. 461-474)
  24. Index
    (pp. 475-486)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 487-487)