In besieged Leningrad, some ate corpses, others – caviar
Petersburg is preparing to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the breakthrough blockdy, held in January 1943. Another date will not be forgotten: also in January, only a year earlier, Leningrad experienced, perhaps, the most terrible period in its history, when over 80 thousand people died due to a terrible famine in a month. However, they suffered from starvation in blockthe bottom of the city is far from everything.
Start date blockdy is considered September 8, 1941, when the German and Finnish troops closed the ring around Leningrad. At the same time, in fact, for Leningraders blockYes, it began at the end of August, after the troops of the Sever group, having occupied the Mga station, cut off the railway communication between Leningrad and the rest of the country. Because of this, about 40 thousand people accumulated at the stations, waiting for evacuation to the east. The situation was aggravated by the fact that since the beginning of the war, about 300 thousand refugees arrived in Leningrad from the Baltic states, as well as the Pskov and Novgorod regions. Thus, the almost three million population of the city at once increased by 10%.
It is now obvious that the leadership of the country and Leningrad, even in theory, did not provide for the option that a huge city could be left without food for 900 days. The commission of the State Defense Committee, which arrived in August, determined that the formed three-month supply of food would be quite enough – given that the outcome of the war still seemed quick and victorious, the decision looked more or less justified. Alas, the commission did not take into account two factors. Firstly, historically the northern capital was provided with food due to their continuous supply from neighboring territories, and therefore even a slight reduction in supplies immediately created a food shortage. Secondly, the city leadership, having decided that it was better to keep food supplies under control, ordered them to be brought to one place – to the Badaev warehouses.
On September 8, German aviation made a massive raid, dropping incendiary bombs on wooden warehouses. There was no one to extinguish the fire – the fire brigade was sent to dig trenches. In 38 burned warehouses, 3,000 tons of flour and 2,500 tons of sugar burned down.
Thanks to deliveries through Ladoga, Leningrad somehow survived September and October. However, in November, frosts broke out and food receipts dropped sharply. In this regard, from November 13, the Military Council of the front reduced the norms for issuing bread to the residents of the city. Workers and engineers began to receive 300, and all other categories of the population – 150 grams of bread per day. Two weeks later, cases of exhaustion began to be recorded – only 1,626 people turned to polyclinic No. 23 with complaints of a painful condition.
Doctor of Historical Sciences Nikita Lomagin cites in his book the reports of the head of the NKVD department of the Leningrad Region Kubatkin found in the FSB archive. They clearly show how almost every day the situation in blockthe bottom of the city became harder and harder. So, on December 3, Kubatkin reported: “1/XII, in a fainting state, Pilov, a 38-year-old turner returning from work, was picked up on the street, who died on the same day. In polyclinic No. 30, worker Ivanov, worker Mikheev and pensioner Ikonen, delivered in a fainting state, died. In a number of documents confiscated by the Military Censorship, it is indicated that the population eats not only surrogates, but also the meat of cats, dogs and dead horses.
The announcement of December 13 sounded more alarming. “In connection with food difficulties among the population, especially among women, there is an increase in negative sentiments. Typical excerpts from the correspondence: “Thank you to our leaders! It is a shame that in such a short time of the war we are already in such need. We got ourselves a radio, but we don’t believe what they say. There is no one to take care of us, we have died and we will not see victory.”
Further, Kubatkin reported that the lack of food caused a sharp increase in mortality. If in April 3694 people died in the city, and in May 3873, then in 10 days of December – 9280. At the same time, in just a week, 841 people died from exhaustion right on the streets. In addition, the Chekist noted, hunger led to an increase in crime. On Vasilyevsky Island, under the threat of a cut-off, the bandits took several loaves of bread from the bakery, and when they tried to detain them, they started a shootout. An 18-year-old teenager, fired for petty theft (that is, no longer receiving a worker’s bread ration. – Ed.), Killed his brothers aged 2 and 15 in order to take possession of food cards and wounded his mother. For the same purpose, the foreman of the workshop of plant No. 371 attacked the sleeping workers with a hammer. At the end of the report, Kubatkin stated: for the first time in the city, there were nine cases of cannibalism.
“K., the wife of a Red Army soldier, strangled her youngest daughter at the age of one and a half years. The corpse was used for cooking for herself and her three children, he described. – Factory worker K. Marx A. and his son committed the murder of evacuated women temporarily living in their apartment, cut the corpses with an ax into pieces and hid them in a barn. A. testified that he and his son had eaten the missing part of the corpse. On December 6, a bag was found in a tram car, which contained human bones and a charred head. The examination established that the bones were boiled, the soft part of them was cut off and partly gnawed. December 9 this year in the restroom of the Lenenergo hostel, in a clogged vent pipe, body parts belonging to a person were found. It was established that citizen B., who lives with her husband, son and two nieces, disappeared in this house. The detainee B. confessed that he had killed his wife, dismembered the corpse, cooked and ate parts of it. B. told his son and nieces that he had bought and slaughtered a dog, the meat of which he feeds them. December 1 rationing plant them. Sverdlov, in the absence of his wife, killed with an ax two sons at the age of 4 years and 10 months. The corpse of the youngest son was eaten. All criminals accused of cannibalism are arrested and are being handed over to the court of the Military Tribunal.
However, even the threat of execution turned out to be less terrible than the excruciating feeling of hunger. January 1942 turned out to be the most terrible month of the Leningrad blockdy – for many residents, the only food was the ration of black bread. Grain reserves of Leningrad on January 1, 1942 amounted to only 980 tons of flour, 2.9 tons of barley, 81.5 tons of soybeans, 11 tons of malt, 427.7 tons of cake, 1.1 tons of bran. Even according to the minimum norms, this did not provide for the two-day needs of the city’s population. If in December 1941 52,612 people died in the city, then only in 25 days of January 77,279 died. Against this background, by the end of the month, the number of detected cases of cannibalism increased to 179. Even “serial” cannibals appeared. So, after the discovery on the street. The police detained the family of A in the Bolshoy Obyezdnaya part of the corpse. As it turned out, the eldest daughter lured passers-by, weakened from hunger, into the apartment by deceit, after which the father and mother killed the unfortunate, boiled the body and ate the whole family. The number of those killed remained unknown.
February, which turned out to be no less terrible, increased the statistics even more – within a month, 311 people were arrested for cannibalism in Leningrad and suburban areas. At the same time, in his subsequent reports, Kubatkin made it clear that many sometimes went to cannibalism, not having even a ghostly opportunity to find food in any other way. “January 20 in the village. Pargolovo, about 10 women attacked the cart, which was transporting corpses to the cemetery, drove away the escorts and began to cut the corpses into pieces. Police detained 4 women who were evacuated, unemployed,” he wrote. – Up to 25 students lived in the dormitory of the vocational school on Mokhovaya Street. The students were left on their own, they were not provided with ration cards for December. For a month they ate the meat of dead cats and dogs.
On December 24, due to malnutrition, student H. died, whose corpse was partially eaten by the students. On December 27, the second student died, whose corpse was also eaten. 11 students were arrested on charges of cannibalism, all pleaded guilty.”
In mid-February, with the establishment of the work of the Road of Life, it was possible not only to increase rations, but also to launch the sale of cereals, bread, meat and sugar. However, food shortages continued to be felt. It manifested itself especially clearly against the backdrop of a flourishing black market, where the exchange and sale of products went at fabulous prices. So, for a women’s rabbit coat they gave 16 kilograms of potatoes, for an expensive pocket watch – 1.5 kilograms of bread, for felt boots with galoshes – 4 kilograms of cake. A separate price was for art and jewelry, which instantly lost their price: a painting by a famous artist could be exchanged for 2 kilograms of fat, and a diamond ring for a kilogram of rice. The buyers were speculators who immediately appeared from among the employees of state organizations who had access to the products. “This is the most fraudulent part of the population: they weigh, measure, cut out extra coupons, drag food home, feed their friends and relatives without coupons, give them cans of food to take away. Any barmaid has a full staff for taking food out of the canteen, security works together – this is the first, small batch of crooks. The second, larger one is zavy, pom. chiefs, leading cooks, storekeepers. Here there is a larger game, acts are drawn up for damage, loss, shrinkage, shrinkage. Food workers can be immediately distinguished from all other people who live only on their card. First of all, this is a fat, well-fed carcass, dressed in silks, velvet, fashionable shoes, shoes. Gold in the ears, on the fingers, and necessarily a watch – depending on the scale of theft, gold or simple, ”wrote engineer I.A. Savinkov.
It is not surprising that this striking inequality angered the starving Leningraders. “Military censorship notes the growth of anti-Soviet sentiment. If in early January the correspondence of citizens with negative sentiments ranged from 6 to 9%, then in recent days such correspondence has been 20%, ”Kubatkin wrote in his message. At the same time, it was especially noted that the dissatisfaction of citizens is caused not only by speculators, but, above all, by party officials. “No leader dies. Those sitting in Smolny are full and can shout about victories, ”cited the censor of citations from the delayed messages.
Apparently, it was about anti-Soviet sentiments, and not about slander, because the words of the indignant authors of the intercepted letters were true. The leading elite of Leningrad really ate according to completely different standards. As the researcher wrote blockdy Doctor of Historical Sciences Mikhail Khodyakov, on December 17, 1941, a decision of the Leningrad City Council appeared, in accordance with which a special procedure was established in the canteens for “food holidays” for party and Soviet workers. Under the new procedure, secretaries of district committees, chairmen of district councils, as well as their deputies and secretaries of the executive committees of councils of deputies, received food without ration cards and for a nominal fee of 3 rubles per dinner (the cost of 100 grams of bread on the black market at that time was 30–50 rubles). ).
In addition, subsidized meals were established for employees of other party and Komsomol organizations. At the same time, it was not at all about a dozen or two leaders. So, 476 people were attached to canteen No. 18. Canteen No. 19 served 300 members of the party activists, and canteen No. 8 served 321 employees of the district committee. You can imagine the diet of officials thanks to the preserved diary of Nikolai Ribkovsky – at the beginning of the war he was a party leader in Vyborg, then he was evacuated to Leningrad and got a job in Smolny. “Now I don’t feel much need for food,” he wrote in early December 1941. – Breakfast in the morning – pasta, or noodles, or porridge with butter and two glasses of sweet tea. In the afternoon, lunch is the first cabbage soup or soup, the second meat every day. Yesterday, for example, I ate green cabbage soup with sour cream for the first, a cutlet with vermicelli for the second, and today for the first soup with vermicelli, for the second pork with stewed cabbage. The quality of the meals in the Smolny canteen is much better than in the canteens in which I had to dine during the period of idleness and waiting. In March 1943, Ribkovsky was sent to the city committee sanatorium to improve his health. “The food here is like in peacetime in a good rest home,” the diary says. – Meat every day – lamb, ham, chicken, goose, turkey, sausage; fish – bream, herring, smelt. Caviar, salmon, cheese, pies, cocoa, coffee, tea, 300 grams of white and the same amount of black bread per day, 30 grams of butter and to all this, 50 grams of grape wine, good port wine for lunch and dinner.
Production managers were in the same special position. But scientists, artists and other representatives of the scientific and creative elite, including those who had world names, had to knock out improved nutrition for themselves. In fairness, it should be noted that increased nutritional standards also worked for workers in hot shops and production leaders, but their diet clearly could not be compared with that used by managers. Apparently, not without reason, as Nikita Lomagin writes, at one of the meetings of the city committee bureau in 1942, Alexei Kuznetsov, deputy chairman of the Leningrad Defense Commission, directly called on the party activists to “enter the position of citizens of the city,” since for party functionaries the problems of everyday life are not so acute, “After all, we eat better, sleep in warmth, and they will wash and iron our linen, and we will be in the light.”