I’m scared. I knew there was a war going on but I didn’t realise that it would affect me personally. My town is nearly surrounded by the Germans. Leningrad!! What would they want with Leningrad we’ve done nothing wrong!! We followed the rules I studied hard what more could I do? But like mum said we couldn’t and can’t do anything, this is just something that has to happen and all we can do is pray we survive it. But I wish she were coming with me tomorrow. It’s not fair that we be split from our families. And my school!! I have to leave in the middle of my studies, and I was doing so well. I would have graduated with honours!! They’ve knitted me the shoulder bag the same one as all the other children.
If only I were one year older I would be an adult and could stay here. It’s not fair, what if I leave and survive while my parents are here starving to death only to be put in a camp and be savagely murdered by those filthy Germans? That man that evil Hitler he thinks he can starve us into submission, we’ll show him. But I must leave tomorrow I’ll do it for mum I cant be delayed for we will be travelling on the last remaining train lines and who knows when they’ll be cut. I wonder what life outside Leningrad will hold for me I know not yet where I will be going, just that it will be somewhere safer than here. Oh but what a lonely existence even my friends remain behind for they are all older than me. What will I do out there all alone? But I must be strong I must hold together for my mum. I watch my father in wonder he’s under more stress that any of us but he still acts like it’s just another day if only I were more like him.
31st August 1941
We packed our bags and were ready to leave. We said our goodbyes; it was the worst moment of my life. Dad was trying to make pathetic little jokes to lighten the mood but I could still see his pain. Mum was hysterical. I didn’t dare look her in the eyes for fear that I would see all the warmth and love of my childhood and cling to her refusing to leave. I waved and left with a lump in my throat. I promised myself not to cry until I was out of her sight.
We loaded into the cars only to hear the end of a radio announcement ‘ …I repeat, all evacuations have been cancelled due to the Germans cutting our last railway lines, all evacuations cancelled.’ Following was a confusing mixture of feelings felt by all of us. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to leave mum and dad but at the same time terrified: we are completely surrounded by Germans now. There is no way out. I’m back home now and mum is making my favourite soup. Everyone is pretending to be fine but I can feel the anticipation in the city, the people and in every bone of my body. The siege has begun.
13th September 1941
How dare they!! I don’t understand why they are doing this to us? Seriously, what does war actually achieve? Yesterday they bombed our food supply. Almost every foodstuff is gone. The sugar that melted has turned into hard candy stuff and we’re so desperate for food that people are paying money for that disgusting rubbish!! Leningrad, with a population of three million has now been left with one months food supply. What are we going to do? How will we survive?
22nd November 1941
An air raid, the worst one yet. Like every other night I awoke to the sound of bombing and rushed to bundle up my belongings. I’m so clumsy, if only I wasn’t so clumsy. They were waiting for me, we could have died and they were waiting for me. It was the stupid shoes; who would make such ridiculous shoes with so many eyelets?! They take forever to put on at the best of times. “Quickly, quickly” mum rushed me. I desperately tried to tie the laces but after doing so I just pulled the second one on.
We rushed out of the house in the pitch-black darkness to the neighbouring house with the air raid shelter. I knew the path well but the road was marked with potholes from the shells. My foot got stuck in one and I tripped, we were panicking. Oh how we were panicking! We got there finally and found a tiny space in the centre of the room on the cold concrete floor to sit together. And now I sit here like a fool hiding my left foot underneath myself. How clumsy I am, I put on my Grandmother’s shoe and its five sizes too big. Suddenly there was a big explosion and in one swift moment we realised that we would never see our house again. My home is gone. I am homeless. Thank god I still have my family.
2nd January 1942
It’s real. This is really happening. It’s finally sinking in. I can’t believe we were in a bomb shelter for a month. Everything is different now. I watched four people die down there and as each one went I thanked god it wasn’t someone close to me. But then the fourth person died and it was Ana my best friends sister. My friend had managed to evacuate but Ana was too old and now she was dead. We are fighting for our lives. The food ration has dropped again we’re on 500cals a day. I’m so hungry, id give anything for a lump of chocolate right now. But still noone gives up. We will outlive Hitler if it’s the only thing we ever accomplish!! Those rats who try to evacuate while we remain here dying for our country!!! How dare they! We’re staying with the Smiths now.
It was very kind of them of offer their house to us. Especially considering they were already sharing it with six other families. Their house is one of the only ones still standing. It’s hard sharing such a confined space with so many people but I just thank god we have a roof over our heads and a healthy family. Dad tells me to stop worrying about what will happen to us ” its not your concern” he says. But I have to admit it; he’s right my grades are slipping and when this whole thing is finished with the one thing that will help me more than anything is my education. I must focus all my energies in my studies.
17th March 1942
I remember when my dad was and engineer. When my family had money and food. Now he pulls the wheelbarrow for the baker with my mother, we sleep in our overcoats and I am selling my schoolbooks for food. I am slowly recovering from my illness now and I’m so excited to be getting out of this bed I have been in for five weeks. Five weeks ago my mother was sick and I found myself working with the bread instead of her; Dad was out searching for food.
The bread was big and crusty and crumbs often fell over the edge to which the workers treated me. I had so much bread that day I thought it was heaven. However that night and for weeks following I felt like I was dying. Dads changed now and if he noticed he didn’t care, but mum took care of me. It’s passed now and I’m feeling better but I will never get rid of the stench of that bread. Its funny, you know dying is painful but it’s not so terrible. Tomorrow mum says I can go back to school.
10th July 1942
Today I graduated; I’ve finished high school. I was so excited I ran all the way home only to find my dad sitting on the floor sobbing. I hadn’t seen his face change for months but he was out of control now. My mother is dead. She died in an air raid. And I can’t even cry. After all these months my dad is finally showing emotion and my mother is dead and I can’t even cry! What kind of an animal am I? She’s gone and she’s never coming back and I’m emotionless. This is his fault. Hitler: that murderer I will make him pay if it’s the last thing I do.
15th July 1942
Dad came to wake my in the middle of the night. Only I was already awake I haven’t slept a wink since mum died. ” Come” he said, ” we’re leaving, we’re taking the road of life.” So we bundled up and got a car, followed by a train to Borisovaya Ridge. The Lorry’s came but the crowd had grown as the sun began to rise and the drivers gave preference to those with vodka. So we sat for hours waiting, waiting until finally it was our turn. The driver had not slept for three days and it was a silent trip across Lake Ladoga.
Then just as we went to drive across the other bank the driver fell asleep at the wheel and we crashed into a pine tree. Dad fell out of the Lorry and went flying across the ice. I climbed out of the lorry and rushed to him and helped him away from the wreckage. The next lorry drove towards us, he saw dad was injured (thank god) and squashed us in. Upon arriving at Moscow we were taken to the hospital where dad was treated for internal bleeding. We’re safe for now and I have my dad. I’m hoping things will be different now.
18th September 1942
Dad is dead. They said it had something to do with the lorry crash two months ago. I have noone now. I’m an orphan. What will happen next? Hitler… I’ll kill him. I swear to god ill make him pay for what he’s done if it’s the last thing I do. He’s taken everything away from me. EVERYTHING!!