Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jonathan Petropoulos

Reader 2

Andrew Aisenberg

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“The Führer has decided to erase the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth.” Adolf Hitler published this directive on 22 September 1941, a month after he officially laid siege to the Soviet city, Leningrad, which he referred to by its Germanized name. In 900 days, between one and two million civilians perished, over half of the city’s population. German artillery forces transformed the landscape of the old Russian capital, while minuscule rations thrust the population into the depths of starvation. Yet—Hitler did not fulfill his objective. On 27 January 1944, the Red Army pierced the blockade, releasing Leningraders from the grips of their German tormentors and the struggles of siege life. The Soviet effort proved victorious, and the citizens of Leningrad, after more than two years of unimaginable suffering, were named victors. In the press and then in history books, they were deemed altruistic “citizen-soldiers” dedicated to the defense of their city and their nation. As such, their tragic experiences of disorientation, loss, and shame were swiftly detached from national memory and cloaked by this persuasive and omnipresent myth.

The siege, an indescribably tragic event, has been re-remembered since it happened. Frenzied and hopeless acts of survival were traded for patriotic altruism, bolstering a broader legend of the Soviet savior, who rescued their nation, the West, and the world. Tracing the state narratives, or myths, of the blockade, from the years before, during, and after, elucidated the current Russian states’ genocidal actions enacted on Ukraine.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.