London; New York; Melbourn: Hutchinson, [1943?]. 136 pp., 15 ill. 18,5x12 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Very good. General wear, a couple of small tears and creases of the covers, some light soiling, foxing of the edges.
First edition. Scarce. Text in English.
This collection of eyewitness accounts of the siege of Leningrad gives a vivid insight into one of history's most notorious and brutal military sieges. The articles were assembled by Nikolay Tikhonov (1896-1979), a noted Soviet writer who served on the Finnish front in the Winter War and was in Leningrad during the city's blockade (from 1941 to January 1944). The edition was printed in 1943 (most likely) when the Red Army finally managed to break the blockade, but the siege was not yet lifted.
A remarkable piece of British and Soviet propaganda, this book includes 15 black and white illustrations depicting blockaded Leningrad, Soviet military equipment, German prisoners, etc. These illustrations are particularly important considering that photographs of the blockaded city were confiscated and banned from publishing (other than the official ones) after WWII ended. The book opens with a proclamation by Leningrad Defence Chiefs and Party Leaders K. Voroshilov, A. Zhdanov, P. Popkov. The edition consists of 4 sections: ‘Besieged’, ‘Leningrad Calendar 1942’, ‘Breaking the Blockade’, and ‘Leningrad Calendar 1943’. The first section offers 10 first-hand accounts of the siege written by people who lived in the city: Nikolay Tikhonov himself, Vissarion Sayanov, Sergei Ivanov, Nina Mironova, etc. In the sections ‘Leningrad 1942’ and ‘Leningrad 1943’, Nikolay Tikhonov describes life in the city month-by-month during the blockade and reveals unknown dramatic episodes from the siege. The section ‘Breaking the Blockade’ includes 4 texts by Nikolay Tikhonov (eyewitness account), Major-General K. Kulik (who wrote the account while on the Leningrad front), and the noted Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg. In the texts, the authors praise the Red Army men for their heroism and predict the Soviet victory in WWII.
Nikolay Tikhonov graduated from the Petersburg School of Commerce in 1911. Tikhonov entered the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Russian Civil War. He published his first collection of poems, Orda [i.e. Horde], in 1922. In 1944, Tikhonov became chair of the Union of Soviet Writers but was dismissed by Joseph Stalin in 1946 for tolerating Zoshchenko and Akhmatova. Still, he remained an important figure in Soviet literary circles and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1957.
The siege of Leningrad by German and Finnish forces lasted 872 days, from September 1941 to 27 January 1944. Up to 2 million lives were lost, including 800,000 civilians, or 40% of the city's population.