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Emotional reactions to the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1944

Student: Iana Gorbatenko

Supervisor: Pavel Vasilyev

Faculty: School of Arts and Humanities

Educational Programme: Applied and Interdisciplinary History "Usable Pasts" (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

The Siege of Leningrad – a prolonged military blockade, which lasted for 900 days, from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944, is considered to be one of the longest and most destructive in the world. Military policy and propaganda of the Communist Party and Soviet state made people sacrifice their labor and other resources to provide the Red Army with arms and useful goods. Starvation, extreme weather conditions of winter 1941-1942 together with the absence of electricity, water, and central heating in the houses deprived Leningraders of their basic human needs leading to mass diseases and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Isolation of the city and continuous bombardment by the German army also had a great influence on Leningrad citizens. This new besieged reality changed all aspects of Leningraders' lives. Since the city was isolated from other parts of the country, it made the influence of these changes stronger and more local. Therefore, I hypothesize that all these factors had a great effect on Leningraders’ emotional state, creating a special emotional community with its own spectrums of emotions. I highlighted three main periods of the Siege connected with changes of the emotional spectrums: July – middle of November of the year 1941; End of November, 1941 – February, 1942; and March, 1942 – January, 1944. Each the period was characterized by certain dominant emotions, formation of which was influenced by both the besieged conditions and Soviet propaganda. I demonstrated that, despite propagandized emotions, Leningraders created their own emotional spectrum. As a result, the control of the Soviet officials became weaker, since citizens formed their own emotional community that could not fit into the Soviet regime anymore.

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