Monday, August 30, 2010

Micheal Jones's book on the Leningrad siege now in softback

Although there are lots of interesting books available on the Eastern Front of Europe during WW2, Michael Jones's account of the blockade of Leningrad (St Petersburg) is one of the most riveting. It was released in hardback two years ago and now a half price paperback is available.

Because of the high casualties suffered by German troops following their capture of Kiev when buildings were mined or timebombed by the retreating Soviets, Hitler resolved that the experience would not be repeated with Leningrad - instead it would be starved into submission. As a result in September 1941 the Wehrmacht and their Finnish allies blockaded the city, bombed and cut off its food supplies while maintaining daily bombardments of the city. The ineptitude of the Red Army whose leading talent had been victims of Stalin's blood purges of the 1930s considerably helped the Germans.

Jones's view, backed with quotes, is that Hitler planned to starve the entire city of 2.5 million to death, no doubt influenced by Stalin's deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainians over 1932-33.

For 872 days the blockade lasted, during which over 1 million inhabitants died (as is typical of communist regimes, the official death toll the Soviet government gave of 632,000 is now considered to be less than half the real figure). As well as the course of events, the experiences and anecdotes of inhabitants is presented in stark quotations from diaries and post-war interviews.

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