Berta Tsirkina

Berta Tsirkina

Born January 1935 Leningrad, Soviet Union.

Interviewed In: Montreal, Quebec

Siege Of Leningrad Survivor.

“The city was doomed to die””

Tsirkina was 6 at the beginning of The Siege of Leningrad. Her father was drafted leaving her mother alone with Tsirkina and her month old sister:

“We lived in Shuvalovo, Leningrad’s suburbs, where the Tzar’s summer cottages were situated. To tell you the truth, they say there are 7 wonders of the world. Our surviving was the 8th one, everyone, the entire family who lived in Leningrad, died. Why did we survive? We survived thanks to my mother”

Bread became the most important item during the blockage:

“For 3 days there was a line in Leningrad to buy bread. I remember my mother sitting with her arms around a bag of dried crust. There were ration coupons for cologne or vodka, or something else. My mother used to trade those coupons for bread and bread and bread. She used to dry the bread she traded. And nothing in life mattered, nothing except bread! I remember her holding the bag full of bread with her arms around it.”

The family survived daily air raids but were dealing with damage caused from hunger once the siege was lifted:

“My baby sister Tomanka was taken to a paediatric hospital where she was kept for 2.5 years. When the siege was lifted on January 27, 1944 (crying) she was returned to my mother. They said, ‘Take away your baby, she’s turning into a monkey, we’re not sure she will survive’. I had stayed in a Lithuanian hospital for 1 month. Mother said that when she took me out of it she felt that I was turning into a human being”

Tskirkina moved to Canada in 1996.