From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.3, Summer 1964, p.94.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Siege of Leningrad
by Leon Goure
Stanford University Press, McGraw-Hill Paperback, New York, 1964. 363 pp. with bibl. and index. $2.95.
The life, and near death, of the city of Leningrad, during the encirclement and siege by the Nazi Wehrmacht, is the subject matter of this Rand Corporation study. It details the horrors which took the lives of approximately a million people: famine, freezing and bombings; and describes the memorable supply line across the ice of Lake Ladoga. Goure’s research, drawn mainly from Soviet and German sources, is impressive. But, the author makes numerous questionable evaluations and political estimates. He is openly contradictory on several occasions and balances his material poorly on others.
One crucial point, however, is made clear. The suffering of the USSR in general, and Leningrad in particular, was gravely exacerbated by the unpreparedness of their defenses. Stalin and the bureaucracy believed, and used the resources of the state to try to convince the Soviet citizenry, that the Nazi-Soviet Pact was a guarantee against surprise invasion. When precisely that invasion occurred, the country had to pay dearly for the folly of the bureaucrats. If read critically, The Siege of Leningrad is a vivid picture of what was, for the Soviet people, both a devastating and heroic chapter in its history.
Last updated on 3 June 2009