Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad: Sonnets

Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad: Sonnets

by Jonathan Fink
Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad: Sonnets

Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad: Sonnets

by Jonathan Fink


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The German invasion of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941. Over the next four years—from the initial invasion and sweep of the German army through the western Soviet Union, through the siege of Leningrad and the battle for Stalingrad—between 1.6 million and 2 million Soviet citizens perished. A citizen’s daily ration at the height of the siege was a square of bread the size of two fingers.

In Barbarossa, award-winning poet Jonathan Fink presents a collection of sonnets focusing on the individual lives of Leningrad citizens during the first year of the siege, from the initial German invasion of the Soviet Union to the formation of supply routes over the frozen Lake Ladoga. With precise language and breathless power, Fink illuminates the tension, complexity, and singularity of one of most colossal operations of World War II and the lives it transformed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941088555
Publisher: Dzanc Books
Publication date: 11/15/2016
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Fink is an Associate Professor and the Director of Creative Writing at the University of West Florida. His poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, TriQuarterly, Slate, Witness, The Southern Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications.

He has received the Editors’ Prize in Poetry from The Missouri Review, the McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Nonfiction/Essay from Southwest Review, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and Emory University, among other institutions. His first book, The Crossing, was also recently published by Dzanc Books. He lives in Pensacola, FL.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface xi

I Invasion

Shelling Begins on the Russo-German Border 3

German Motorcyclists Surprise Russian Infantry Soldiers Still Undergoing Drill Instruction 4

A Section of Horse-Drawn Field Artillery Crossing a Stream; Photograph 5

General Dmitry Pavlov, at a Comedic Play in the Officers' Club in Minsk, Refuses to Believe the Invasion Has Begun 6

German Soldiers Practicing Formations with Canvas Tanks: Photograph 7

Panzer Grenadiers Rush to Open Fire on a Blazing Soviet Farmhouse Where Russian Sharpshooters Have Taken Refuge During the German Advance to Smolensk: Photograph 8

A German Engineering Platoon, Wearing Russian Uniforms and Driving Four Captured Russian Trucks, Attempts to Secure the Dvinsk Road Bridge 9

Expecting a Transmission with Information about the Invasion, Russian Soldiers Assemble and Instead Receive Agricultural Reports and Instructions for Daily Exercise 10

Citizens in Minsk Seize a Bottle Factory to Construct Molotov Cocktails 11

Russian General Ivan B. Boldin Observes a Wealthy Official Fleeing in a Limousine Just Before It Is Strafed by a German Plane 12

A Polish Worker, on Seeing a Ditch Filled with Bodies Before He Is Shot, Remembers a River from His Childhood 13

Writing in His Journal, Helmut Schreiber, a German Soldier in the Ukraine, Recalls Mistaking a Peasant's Manure Wagon for a Russian Tank 14

Rumors Circulate among German Troops of Beautiful Russian Girls Found

Dead after Battle, Their Automatic Weapons Still in Hand 15

Captured by the Germans, Stalin's Oldest Son, Yakov Djugashvili, Speaks of His Father's Refusal to Negotiate His Release in Exchange for a German POW 16

A 12-Piece German Band Performs in a Ukrainian Village Square Where Soldiers and Citizens Have Gathered: Photograph 17

A Ukrainian Man and Woman Search for a Neighbor Among Corpses: Photograph 18

Stalin, in a State of Depression and Psychic Collapse, Withdraws 19

II Russian Resistance and the Fall of the Luga Line

Russian Partisans Resist 1 23

Russian Partisans Resist 2 24

Camouflage Nets Are Strung over Buildings on the Neva River 25

Evacuating the Hermitage Museum 26

A Russian Farmer Coming Upon German Paratroopers 27

A Citizen Firefighter Surveys Leningrad from a Rooftop 28

Paper Strips, Pasted on Windows to Help Prevent Shattering During the Bombings, Frequently Were Arranged into Elaborate Scenes 29

A Worker Speaks of Transporting the White Bull Sculptures from the Leningrad Packing Plant 30

Thirty Thousand Leningraders, Mostly Women, Attempt to Return on Foot After Helping to Fortify the Luga Line 31

Colonel Bychevsky, Directing the Construction of the Luga Line, Discusses Where to Place Mines 32

Colonel Bychevsky, on Being Presented with Paper-Mache Decoys of Guns and Tanks Constructed by the Scenic Artists at the Mariinski Theater 33

A Russian Partisan, Running Through a Field, Removes a Machine Gun from Beside the Body of a Dead German: Photograph 34

The German Offensive to Breach the Luga Line 35

Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya Sets Fire to a German Stable 36

One Russian Soldier from the People's Volunteer Army Discusses the Enclosing German Army 37

The Evacuation of Children from Leningrad 38

An Aerial View of the German Army Closing Around Leningrad 39

III The Battle for Leningrad

The Battle for Leningrad Begins 43

The Air Raids 44

The Badayev Food Warehouses Burn 45

Accusations 46

To Protect Their Belongings, Some Leningraders Wear Their Finest Clothes 47

Taking Cover Under Railway Cars 48

In the Workshops 49

Bombs Fall Near a Zoo 50

A Woman Travels Outside of Leningrad to Attempt to Exchange Vodka and Cigarettes for Food 51

A Student Speaks of the Arrival of Winter 52

The Mouse 53

Imitation 54

A Pigskin Briefcase Is Converted into Pork Aspic 55

To Barter for Food, a Girl Removes Her Deceased Father's Gold Teeth 56

With Their Grandmother's Assistance, Two Children Hide the Bodies of Their Deceased Parents in the Attic 57

One Man, Claiming that He Received an Extra Food Ration for Helping to Build Grenades, Gives His Daily Food Allowance to His Wife 58

The Aggressor's Plight 59

IV The Ice Road

The Children's Sleds 63

The Ice Road across Lake Ladoga 64

A Stolen Ration Card 65

Parachute Flares Are Dropped above Russian Supply Trucks Crossing the Lake at Night: Photograph 66

One Leningrader Discovers in a Snowdrift the Discarded Heads of a Man, Woman, and Young Girl 67

Through the Ice 68

The Cannibals 69

Losing the Path on Lake Ladoga 70

A Reporter Is Dismissed from His Job at Leningradsksya Pravda and Expelled from the Communist Party for Using a Newspaper Car to Transport a Sick Colleague across Lake Ladoga 71

Whom None Command 72

The Supply Chain Is Established 73

Professor A.D. Bezzubov Cfeates a Cure for Scurvy By Extracting Vitamin C from Pine Needles 74

Two Shoots of Green 75

Russian Tank Crewmen Accept Chocolate from a First-Aid Worker: Photograph 76

While Flying First-Aid Supplies from Moscow to Leningrad Over Nazi Lines, a Pilot Also Transports the Score of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 77

Russian Engineers Cut German Barbed-Wire Barricades to Clear the Way for Soviet Ski Troops and Cavalry: Photograph 78

The Dream of Summer 79

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