Starvation spreads in Leningrad

Leningrad began to see widespread civilian deaths from starvation as the siege took hold.

It was now nearly two months since the Germans had cut off Leningrad and begun a siege intended to starve the population to death. One of their first actions had been to deliberately bomb the city’s centralised food warehouses – cutting the food supplies for the city at a stroke.

What limited food that remained was strictly rationed – at about a third of normal daily nutritional requirements. Rations were cut again during November. Alternative supplies of food had rapidly been used up, pets had disappeared, the zoo animals were killed, the burnout remains of the warehouses dug up and sifted through. People everywhere were weakened by hunger and now, as the really cold weather arrived, the death toll began to rise dramatically.

People are so weak from hunger that they are completely indifferent to death. They die as if they are falling asleep. Those half-dead people who are still around do not even pay any attention to them.

Death has become an everyday phenomenon and people are used to it. They are apathetic, knowing that such a fate awaits everyone, if not today then tomorrow.

When you leave the house in the morning, you come upon corpses lying in the street. They lie there for a long time, since there is no one to take them away.

See Elena Skrjabina: Siege and Survival – The Odyssey of a Leningrader

Over 11,000 people would die this month. It was just the beginning.

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: