Born: 1921, Leningrad. Passed Away: September 12th, 2011 Toronto, Ontario.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Medal for Defense of Leningrad
Siege Of Leningrad Survivor.
Nina was a teenager when The Siege of Leningrad began. She stayed in the city with her mother and sister after her father was arrested and her brothers were drafted:
“I was 18-19. And we wasn’t prepared. We hear war is starting with Poland. But we didn’t believe it comes to us. Everything changed. We left 3 women. Me, my mother and my sister. She was 9 years old. And then come war, then come this blockade.”
Nina describes death and starvation becoming routine as the blockade wore on:
“When I used to go at 4 o’clock in the morning, we lived on the 4th floor, we go to stairs, I see this er a woman who is working like superintendent, carrying 2 dead people by lakes and pushing them through the stairs. They had “boom-boom-boom-boom”. It was such a terrible feeling! I run back to the my apartment. And for a quite time I didn’t want to go out. I was very scared. Then I get used to this. But I took once my sister and she see this, she never want to go back out from the house, from apartment. And you go in the street, you see all over dead people. Sometimes you walking you see people cutting from dead people for food…They eating the Hamburger. You can go in a market and there you can exchange bread for a Hamburger from people.”
Nina helped evacuate children from Leningrad after the German lines were broken in 1943:
“They took us in a boats and they bomb us from “orudiye” (artillery guns). We was organizing this children to take from the Leningrad, because fathers was in army. And we were taking them out when they torn this blockade. And when they took us in the boat, little boat across the water “Finsky Zaliv” they was shooting on us and bombing us. But we survive somehow, they didn’t… Some of them, you know, because not just ours.”
Nina spent the rest of the war in Ulyanovsk working as a teacher, still dealing with hunger and the possibility of a German attack. She eventually immigrated to Canada with her husband, by way of Czechoslovakia.