The Tragic WWII Siege When St. Petersburg was Called Leningrad
By Anna Reid
Walker & Company, $30.00, 492 pages
This is the tragic story of the siege of Leningrad, Russia by the German Nazi army during World War II. It is well written and thoroughly researched. Cut off from the outside world, food quickly became scarce or non-existent for all but the privileged few. This is a story of numbers; four times more people died at Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg, than the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima together. By December 1941, 100,000 people were dying of starvation each month. By January 1943, the death toll reached between 700,000 and 800,000. The old and young were the first to go. People ate anything that might be considered food to at least try to fill their empty stomachs. Late in the siege, cannibalism was being reported.
“We’re winning but the Germans are advancing.”
The author, Anna Reid, does a good job of moving back and forth from what was happening during the war outside of Leningrad and then highlighting the struggles of those that were trapped. Leningrad is on the same latitude as Anchorage and is located on the North Sea. The winters are fierce which added to the misery of those trying to stay alive. At the end of January 1944, the siege was broken. The story behind those who lived and survived is inspiring. The city was nearly destroyed by 15,000 heavy artillery shells and 10,000 bombs. Unfortunately, more trouble lay ahead. With Stalin in power, the purges of the ‘intelligentsia’ began. Readers of World War II history should add this book to their reading list. It is a tragic piece of history that received little attention.
Reviewed By Brian Taylor