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Wordpower: diarist who survived the worst siege

The hours ran silently after one another like grey rats, disappearing into the darkness.

Very probably, you have never heard of the author of the first post in this category.

Here are two more, separate, sentences from her…

as saturated with obedience as a sponge with water.

From below silence rose like steam, condensing on the staircase. 


Yelena Kochina (aka Elena Kochina) survived the world’s longest, most lethal siege.

The death toll in Leningrad (St Petersburg) was around twice that suffered by the entire USA in all of World War Two.

Published in 2011, Anna Reid’s Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944 is surely the definitive book on the subject – thoroughly researched, well annotated and vividly written.

Reading it in 2016, I thus “discovered” Kochina; Reid many times quotes Kochina’s Blockade Diary.

Obviously, Kochina was uncommonly eloquent.

Samuel Ramer’s translation of Blockade Diary was published in 1990.

It is still in print.

note: the image atop this post shows an old woman towing a young man in Leningrad, February 1942.

Published in prose fiction word power

One Comment

  1. Peter Gifford Peter Gifford

    Doug, your readers should also be aware of Helen Dunmore’s two excellent novels dealing with the siege of Leningrad and its aftermath, The Siege and The Betrayal. For anyone not famliiar with the subject, it would probably be better to read Reid and Kochina first, for background of the highest order.
    Congratulations incidentally on getting the blog up.

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