Monday, November 26, 2012

A Sickle Story

A Sickle Story, P173-174
Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder, 2010, 417 pages.


If the Germans were unable to take a Soviet city in their WWII offensive against the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, they laid siege to the cities instead.

The Germans were never able to execute their "Hunger Plan" whereby they'd starve the conquered Soviet citizens by the millions.

Yet starvation was a major reason for death among the innocents caught in their Eastern front.

Many innocents caught in-between the Germans and Soviets starved to death in these sieges, and the author explains that cannibalism was common.

He [Hitler] wanted to remove it [Leningrad] from the face of the earth.

Hitler wanted the population of Leningrad exterminated, the city razed to the ground, and then its territory handed over to the Finns.


Within the great city [Leningrad] Russians (and others) faced the same dilemmas that Ukrainians and Kazakhs (and others) had faced ten years before, during the collectivization famines.

Wanda Zvierieva, a girl in Leningrad during the siege, later remembered her mother with great love and admiration.

She "was a beautiful woman.  I would compare her face to the Mona Lisa."

Her father was a physicist with artistic inclinations who would carve wooden sculptures of Greek goddesses with his pocketknife.

Late in 1941, as the family was starving, her father went to his office, in the hope of finding a ration card that would allow the family to procure food.  He stayed away for several days.

One night Wanda awakened to see her mother standing over her with a sickle.  She struggled with and overcame her mother, or "the shadow that was left of her."  

She gave her mother's actions the charitable interpretation: that her mother wished to spare her the suffering of starvation by killing her quickly.

Her father returned with food the following day, but is was too late for her mother, who died a few hours later.

The family sewed her in blankets and left her in the kitchen until the ground was soft enough to bury her.  It was so cold in the apartment that her body did not decompose.

That spring Wanda's father died of pneumonia.

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