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“Writing the Siege of Leningrad” with Anna Reid – Friday, 5 March at 19:00 (GMT)
Friday 5 March, 2021, 20:00 - 21:30
27 January 1944 is a sacred date in the memory of most Leningraders. On this day, seventy-seven years ago, the siege of Leningrad was finally lifted after 872 days of total blockade imposed on the city by the Axis powers during the Second World War.
This year marks 80 years since the outbreak of the deadliest of human tragedies of the 20th century, which took the lives of over 800,000 people. Anna Reid dedicated several years to her research about the siege, placing the focus on personal encounters of its witnesses and survivors. Her publication “LENINGRAD: Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941-44” tells a moving story of “the depths and heights of human behaviour” in unprecedented circumstances. This year will be the 10th anniversary of its first publication. Anna kindly agreed to talk to us about her work, share her personal encounters from the meetings with the blokadniki and their families and other insights into her extensive research in Russia.
“The siege’s most eloquent victims – the diarists whose voices form the core of this book – are easy to relate to. They are not faceless poor-world peasants but educated city-dwelling Europeans – writers, artists, university lecturers, librarians, museum curators, factory managers, bookkeepers, pensioners, housewives, students and schoolchildren; owners of the best coats, gramophones, favourite novels, pet dogs – people, in short, much like ourselves. Some did turn out to be heroes, others to be selfish and callous, most to be a mixture of both. As a memoirist puts it of the Party representatives in the wartime military hospital, “There were good ones, bad ones, and the usual”. “Their words are their best memorial.” (Anna Reid)
Leningrad is magnificent living history: all life and death is in these burning pages (The Guardian Review, 2011)
WHEN: Friday, 5 March 2021, 19:00 (GMT)
Please register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
About the speaker
Anna Reid is an English journalist and author whose work focuses primarily on the history of Eastern Europe. She read law at Oxford University and studied Russian History at the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies. After working as a consultant and business journalist, she moved to Kiev, where she acted as the Ukraine correspondent for the Economist from 1993 to 1995. From 2003 to 2007 she worked for the British think-tank Policy Exchange, editing several of their publications and running the foreign affairs programme.
Her first book, Borderland: A Journey through the History of the Ukraine, was published to wide acclaim in 1997. She is also the author of The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia (Bloomsbury, 2003) and is currently working on The Russia Stunt which is forthcoming from John Murray.
“LENINGRAD: Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941-44” is currently available on amazon.co.uk
CamRuSS held an art exhibition “Elena Marttila: Art and Endurance in the Siege of Leningrad,” at Darwin College, Cambridge, accompanied by a series of talks and film screenings in 2017. Video recordings of the talks are available in the programme section of the exhibition’s website.
On the theme of Russian WWII Poetry, you can view the presentation slides of a talk by Dr Maria Bloshteyn (22 October 2020) with some of the poems included in the bilingual book of poetry “Russia is Burning: Poems of the Great Patriotic War.” Dr Bloshteyn’s edited volume can be purchased from its publisher Smockestack Books or from various bookshops: Blackwell’s (Heffers), Waterstones, Poetry Book Society, or Amazon.
You can also read two book reviews “Comrade, Shed No Tears” in magazine Literary Review by Robert Chandler and “Russia’s Great Patriotic War” in The Postil Magazine by N. Dass.