Have you ever heard of the Leningrad Siege? Leningrad was a city in Russia that was attacked and surrounded by the Nazi Army during WWII. The Nazis set up a blockade not allowing food in or anyone out from September 8, 1941 until January 7, 1944. For a total of 872 days the people fought and starved. One million of the civilians and resistance fighters died. Freezing temperatures prevented the burial of the dead. Starvation finally gave way to cannibalism. And yet they held on, and survived.
Rachael was 8 years old when the attacks began. She remembers the bombing attacks.
“Bomb! Bomb! Bomb, bomb! Bomb! It just would not stop! Oh, it was loud and would shake the buildings. We would run underground to a building with a wall this thick [indicating with her arms a wall about three feet thick.] We thought surely this wall would survive the bombs. And it did. We survived by standing next to it.
Today even at 87 years of age she became agitated to remember and tell of those days.
“My aunt who lived with us died of starvation. It was so cold her body became frozen stiff. When the men came to get her body they just threw it [on the cart] and it just rolled and bounced…! Oh, it was so terrible!
“We were all so hungry! Food was rationed and we each got the same amount of bread, the size of these two cookies, each day. That was all we had to eat. It was so, so terrible. Terrible!”
Rachael does not remember the end of the siege. But even today the memories she does retain, the stark realities of an 8 year old in the midst of constant bombing, starvation and death, make her shudder.