Leningrad: State of Siege

Overview


“All offers of surrender from Leningrad must be rejected,” wrote Adolph Hitler on September 29, 1941, at the outset of Operation Barbarossa. “In this struggle for survival, we have no interest in keeping even a proportion of the city’s population alive.”

During the famed 900-day siege of Leningrad, the German High Command deliberately planned to eradicate the city’s population through starvation. Viewing the Slavs as sub-human, Hitler embarked on a vicious program of ethnic cleansing. By the time the siege ended...

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Overview


“All offers of surrender from Leningrad must be rejected,” wrote Adolph Hitler on September 29, 1941, at the outset of Operation Barbarossa. “In this struggle for survival, we have no interest in keeping even a proportion of the city’s population alive.”

During the famed 900-day siege of Leningrad, the German High Command deliberately planned to eradicate the city’s population through starvation. Viewing the Slavs as sub-human, Hitler embarked on a vicious program of ethnic cleansing. By the time the siege ended in January 1944, almost a million people had died. Those who survived would be marked permanently by what they endured as the city descended into chaos.

In Leningrad, military historian Michael Jones chronicles the human story of this epic siege. Drawing on newly available eyewitness accounts and diaries, he reveals the true horrors of the ordeal—including stories long-suppressed by the Soviets of looting, criminal gangs, and cannibalism. But he also shows the immense psychological resources on which the citizens of Leningrad drew to survive against desperate odds. At the height of the siege, for instance, an extraordinary live performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony profoundly strengthened the city’s will to resist.

A riveting account of one of the most harrowing sieges of world history, Leningrad also portrays the astonishing power of the human will in the face of even the direst catastrophe.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Herald (Glasgow), May 17, 2007
“Jones charts the journey through moral and physical nightmare via the recollections of some who clung doggedly to life and from the diaries of many who did not see the end of the torment. It is a powerful narrative, evoking images of a descent into chaos few who had not experienced it could possibly imagine….Jones's gripping account is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit in circumstances where it might easily have been overwhelmed, not by German firepower, but by sheer horror.”
 

The HistorianLeningrad: State of Siege makes for compelling reading, and it is recommended to anyone who wants a better understanding of the human, and all too often tragic, dimension of the experience of ordinary people who lived in Leningrad and indeed much of Europe during the Second World War.”

Publishers Weekly

British military historian Jones (Stalingrad) explores the physical and psychological depths of the 872-day siege of Leningrad during WWII-"one of the most horrific sieges in history"-in this sobering chronicle. Leningrad, a city of 2.5 million, was a major objective of Hitler because of its economic, military and symbolic significance (as the "birthplace of the Bolshevik Revolution"). Besieged and poorly served by the corrupt and incompetent city administration, Leningrad descended into starvation, "widespread looting and cannibalism" and deadly epidemics. Despite the appalling conditions, says Jones, "a remarkable humanity still survived," and Leningrad miraculously managed to hold out until the Soviet Army liberated the city in January 1944. It's likely that more than one million civilians perished during the siege. Following in the footsteps of Harrison Salisbury's classic 1969 account, The 900 Days,Jones draws extensively from the diaries of siege victims and interviews with survivors for a harrowing portrait of life reduced to a single pursuit: "the hunt for food." Readers interested in military history, the Soviet Union or the psychology of survival will appreciate this unforgettable saga. 35 b&w illus., 5 maps. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465020355
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/11/2011
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 974,230
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Jones has a Ph.D. in history from Bristol University and has taught at Glasgow University and Winchester College. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has previously written books on Agincourt and Stalingrad. He lives in Croyden, England.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Maps

Timeline

Bread Rations

Introduction 1

1 'An Almost Scientific Method': The German Advance 11

2 'The Biggest Bag of Shit in the Army': Attempts to Defend 46

3 The Butcher's Hook: Ordinary Civilians' Experience 81

4 The Noose: The Blockade Is Not Broken 109

5 Elena's Sketchbook: The Emerging Horror 142

6 The Abortionist: The Onset of Mass Starvation 173

7 One Black Beret: The Authorities Lose Control 203

8 The Road of Life: Keeping Hope Alive 220

9 The Symphony: Finding the Will to Survive 238

10 Operation Spark: The Military Breakthrough 262

11 Something Necessary: The Siege is Lifted 277

Epilogue 293

Notes 297

Bibliography 306

Index 311

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