I recall a film of some years ago that took place during the siege of Leningrad, but I never really knew how comprehensive and devastating an episode it was. Then, a couple weeks ago, my book club chose a novel where the siege was part of the plot line - though the book wasn’t very good, it did prompt me to pick up a couple more novels set around the era, and reading some of the historical background.
Basically, during WWII, Leningrad was attacked by Germany and the prolonged blockade, exacerbated by the city’s geography and the severe winter, resulted in mass starvation and a death toll that may have exceeded a million. The descriptions of what the citizens endured was devastating. If you’re not familiar with this WWII episode, I recommend Salisbury’s “The 900 Days” or Helen Dunmore’s novel (which wasn’t our book club pick) “The Siege.”
And if you are not inclined to read laborious non-fiction, watch the movie “Enemy at the Gates.” It is fiction based on fact, but it does give a pretty accurate and grim view of what those Russians endured.
The 900 days was a good book or so I thought, but I enjoy that type of reading. I agree with Samm on the film as well. Either way most today have no idea about many things that happened then.
Never underestimate Russian ability to defeat you by wasting your bullets.
That was abot Stalingrad, not Leningrad, but it was still a good depiction of how grim things were for Russia and a good movie.
There is another book on Leningrad that is worth reading it’s Leningrad: State of Siege by Michael Jones, who has also wrote 3 other good books on the war in the east that I recommend…
Maybe not so much here. But I think people in the west greatly underestimate the soviet contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Although few know they tried to join the German alliance against England in Nov 41.
Antony Beevor’s book, Stalingrad is a very good read. Beevor has written a number of worthwhile books on WWII.
3 million soviet died at Leningrad.
The western soviet Stalingrad.
If Leningrad had fallen, the Germans might have cut off the supply line from Murmansk.
The scale of the destruction across the Soviet Union was mind boggling. There was literally no city, township, or village west of Moscow that wasn’t blasted into oblivion by the Wehrmacht.
I agree that is a very good book,apparently he was going to write a book on Lenningrad but found it too grim after completing the Stalingrad book.
I love Beevor’s work. My favorite is The Fall of Berlin 1945.
Me too, it is a superb book,it led to his work being banned in Russia,apparently they refuse to believe that the Red Army were involved in mass rapes in Germany in WW2.
I haven’t got round to reading his book on the Ardennes yet.
Every country that participated in the world wars suffered pretty bad. But there are two who suffered even worse.
In World War II it was without a doubt the USSR. The scale of the destruction was unprecedented and the world hasn’t seen anything like it since. So many people were killed that it took the USSR’s population three decades to return to prewar status. It set the stage for the Soviet actions in the post war era and the Cold War. Every action the USSR took after the Great Patriotic War was based around never letting it happen on their soil ever again.
In World War I it was France. The Republic conscripted more men, suffered more fatalities, and lost more economic assets than any other power during the war itself. An entire generation of young French men, aged 18-30 was wiped out. The entire generation was either killed, crippled, or mentally shattered by the experience. And I’d argue it led directly to the fall of France in the second world war. Even though France was the great victor they never really recovered from the trauma.
In terms of suffering in a single battle that didn’t involve civilians I would say the British and Canadian experience at Passchendaele tops the list. That was a mind numbingly awful battle and it blows my mind that the high command didn’t stop that god awful slaughter after it became clear that the Germans weren’t going to withdraw.
Passchendale did inspire Iron Maiden to write an awesome song about the battle.
It’s really good. He puts particular focus on the Allied political machinations and blindness that led to that entire debacle.
It also goes into great detail about just how damaged the Wehrmacht was by that point in the war. It’s insane that Hitler even tried Watch on the Rhine considering the poor state of German forces by December of 1944. When your operation literally depends on capturing enemy fuel depots to even have a 10% chance of success you should realize that the jig is up.
Hmm. My memory is spotty. What was the title?
I’m a huge fan of “The Trooper.” I didn’t know anything about the charge of the light brigade until I heard that song for the first time as a teenager and decided to research what it was about.
Its just called Passchendaele. Another great historical song of theirs us Empire of the Clouds.