Belgoritz in the Great Siege

  On August 22, 1941, Olga Belgoritz (1910-1975, Soviet poetess) entered the Leningrad Broadcasting Committee’s literature-drama editorial department. Leningrad was almost completely surrounded by the German army, and the panicked citizens heard her on the radio for the first time. Without this job, Bergoritz would probably end her life as a “second-rate Soviet poet” and “girlfriend of Anna Akhmatova”; but the 872-day siege of Leningrad changed her life. Fate, she was called the “Muse of the Siege” and “The Voice of Hope of the Siege of Leningrad”, and she entered the textbook of Soviet literature and history. Her name became a symbol after World War II. It was not until 2010, on the centennial of Bergoritz’s birth, that the publication of a “Diary of the Imprisoned” enabled the poetess from the entire history of the siege. It is stripped out, showing a flesh-and-blood side.

  Bergoritz was born into a revolutionary family, and her father had participated in the civil war as a Red Army. Like all Soviet children who were educated in Soviet collectivism, she regarded self-sacrifice and dedication as a life creed very early on. In 1923, when she was 13 years old, she wrote in her diary: “I hope that my singing can spread everywhere, and that these simple songs can heal those tired and overworked people, and that all those who read them can Looking at life from the optimistic side again… What I want most is not glory, but to give people some help, help from the heart.” She firmly supports the communist faith, even when her father made a statement at home. She also fiercely criticized him for being short-sighted in her diary when she made critical remarks. She criticized current affairs from the standpoint of the protagonist, showed great enthusiasm for various public undertakings, and often reflected on her own thoughts. From the early diaries of Belgoritz, one can glimpse the exploration path of a standard “Soviet New Intellectual”.
  The term “new Soviet intellectuals” is related to the socialist construction that was in full swing in the 1930s. Generally speaking, this group refers to intellectuals who have grown up in the political context after the establishment of the Soviet regime and have recognized and practiced new morals and concepts represented by collectivism. Although there is no official name, the meaning of this allegation has long been reflected in official documents. At the 18th Congress of the All-Soviet Communist Party (Bolshevik) held in 1939, Stalin declared the victory of socialism in the Soviet Union and used some materials that could show that the social structure had undergone a fundamental renewal to confirm this conclusion. He pointed out that new and people’s intellectuals have emerged in the Soviet Union. They have shown a friendly attitude towards the workers and peasantry. They generally support intellectual workers, fully support the ideals and goals of the working class, and respect the policies of the Communist Party. . And these aspects are exactly the ideals established by the young Belgoritz in his diary.
  It is not difficult to understand how strong fighting feelings would be filled in his heart when the siege broke out in 1941, and when Bergoritz went to work at the radio station. She was full of indignation at the brutality of fascists and sympathized with the people of Leningrad. At the same time, the propaganda work for the siege brought her endless pride. On September 13, 1941, she wrote in her diary: “I worked hard like a beast, writing poems and articles that’inspired’-and from the heart, from the heart, this is amazing!”

The Great Siege of Leningrad

  Today, at the entrance of the St. Petersburg Broadcasting Building, there is still a full-body bronze statue of Belgoritz. Belgoritz was thin, and his voice was not high but very stable. When it comes to emotions, his voice would tremble. This was the most recognizable voice in Leningrad during the entire siege. Due to the “German iron clamp” blockade, more than 2.5 million residents endured extreme situations of power outages, water shortages, heating, and food shortages (by the time the siege was lifted, the city’s population had plummeted to 560,000). For every hungry and cold family, Bergoritz’s voice is the spiritual food they look forward to every day.
  She broadcasts it almost every day. The content of the broadcast includes reports from the front lines, as well as comments written by herself, or poems she dedicated to the Great Siege. Usually, she would start her announcement like this: “Comrades, we live like years and endure unprecedented disasters, but we have not been forgotten. We are not fighting alone-this is already a victory.”

  In fact, compared to the girlhood full of ideals and convictions, Bergoritz has gained a lot of “social experience” at this time. The political high pressure of the Stalin system and the negative phenomena in socialist construction began to appear in her diary, and the tone of her writing has changed a lot. In 1938, Bergoritz’s first husband and poet Boris Karnilov was shot for counter-revolutionary crimes. Soon after, she was also arrested and imprisoned for “participation in counter-revolutionary activities” and “conspiracy to kill day”. Danov”. The prison experience left an indelible shadow in her heart. In particular, Bergoritz was pregnant before she went to prison. The poor conditions of the prison and the continuous interrogation led to the child’s death in her abdomen. Therefore, after 171 days of imprisonment, Bergoritz, who devoted herself to the broadcasting industry, was not a “mike” inspired by the Soviet regime. Her dedication stems more from her willingness to contribute and being fascist. The righteous indignation inspired by actions to defend the homeland.
  It is necessary to represent the ordinary citizens of Leningrad in the “Great Siege” and to represent the Soviet authorities, which makes Bergoritz often trapped in contradictory situations in his work. The unfavorable situation on the front line and the encounters of the people around her made her anxious about the future, which could not have affected her emotions; however, these emotions could not be revealed on the radio, so the diary became Belgoritz’s greatest spiritual sustenance.
  On December 1, 1941, Bergoritz had been encouraging the citizens of Leningrad with her uncertain prospects for more than three months. She gradually felt confused: “My writing, my poetry, and even those not long ago Let the commanders of an army shed tears after reading it, for Leningrad, it can even be said to be insignificant in importance. They will not exchange a piece of bread, a bullet, or a piece of bread for the city. Weapons-and these are the only things that ultimately determine the difference. If the Leningradans stop reading my poems, their lives will not change in any way.”
  This winter was one of the coldest winters in the 20th century, when the outdoor temperature dropped to -34°C. On November 7, when the Germans approached the city of Moscow, the Soviet Union still organized the Red Square military parade on time. This is one of the most famous military parades in history. After the military parade ended, the troops under the parade went directly to the front line. However, the mighty force of the capital army cannot conceal the bad situation in the Leningrad Theater. While blocking all land transportation routes, the German army also carried out large-scale bombings in the city, which caused a large amount of food reserves in the city to be depleted. In addition, due to the sudden drop in temperature and interruption of hot water and heating, a large number of Leningrad citizens were frozen to death in their homes. People began to burn furniture, books, and wooden building materials to keep warm. According to the ration supply standard at this time, the average worker who could receive 400 grams of bread per day was reduced to 250 grams from November to December, and the share of the elderly and children was even greater. It was down to 125 grams. During this period, the Soviet authorities began to deliver food to Leningrad along the frozen Lake Ladoga, and at the same time began the evacuation of citizens.

  On December 8, Bergoritz had a foreboding that there would be an evacuation. She wrote in her diary expectantly: “Obviously, tomorrow I will be included in the (evacuation list), so let my voice ring through the dying, besieged streets of beautiful Leningrad for the last time. This It’s all I can do for it, I know, it doesn’t need these…” But she soon understood that she was wrong, her name did not appear on the evacuation list, and her fate had to be with Leninger. Le tied together. Then in the diary on the 20th, her mood was a little depressed: “It seems-still have to persist, have to work… Yes, you have to live until you can’t stand up. If you know the situation is not bad, Since December 5th, the Germans have stopped shelling us, just machine guns…”
  These ups and downs only appear in Bergoritz’s diary, she has never expressed it on the radio or in her poems written by herself. Over the desire to evacuate. Just like the name of one of her poems, the lyrical protagonist of the poem wants to “breathe with Leningrad.” Although there is no sufficient food, no drinking water, no fuel for heating, there are people every day because of hunger or fascist shells. And died. In front of the public, Bergoritz is a brave warrior who put an end to all desires to survive, and a defender who coexists and perishes with Leningrad:
  I am still your consciousness to this day. /I will not hide anything from you. /I share all your pain,/just like once shared your solemnity.
  (“Four Years of Autumn”)

  Before Belgoritz could get out of the mixed emotions, he suddenly received an order from his superiors-the new year is approaching, to prepare for a special party. The Soviet authorities hope that Leningrad will persist in the siege at all costs, maintain a stable social order, and “stand guard for the motherland.” After experiencing an extremely deteriorating living environment, the citizens of Leningrad and the fighters on the front line were generally depressed and desperately needed a shot of “stimulant” to boost morale, and Bergoritz was the best candidate to complete this “political order.” In the diary, Bergoritz described the process of preparing for the party in detail: She was sitting in her home, the temperature around was -4℃, and there was no water supply in the room. She wrapped her legs in a sheepskin coat and put it on her hands. A pair of dirty gloves, thinking about the frame of the party.
  The party finally achieved unprecedented success. On December 29, Bergoritz, as the protagonist of the party, read to the audience the poem “Letter to Kama” to parents outside the besieged city. In the poem, Bergoritz played a consistent optimistic and positive manner, inspiring the citizens of Leningrad not to retreat, to survive, to resist resolutely, and not to allow German fascists to trample on their sacred city. The most exciting thing in the poem is the last few lines:
  This is a song to the Leningrad people-they are swollen, stubborn, and kind. / In their name, I sent a telegram to outside the siege: “We are alive. We will hold on. We will win!”
  Such verses have typical characteristics of Belgoritz and most of the mainstream poems of the Great Siege : Replace the monologue of the lyrical protagonist with the characteristics of dialogue, and use the title “we” to strengthen the collective identity in the state of siege. It undoubtedly drew the hearts of all the residents of the besieged city and greatly encouraged them. According to the memories of those who witnessed the Great Siege, the New Year’s Party in 1942 gave them a deep impression. After broadcasting this episode, Bergoritz received a large number of letters from Leningrad citizens and frontline fighters, who expressed their admiration for this goddess-like figure. Bergoritz read the letter with excitement. She sincerely felt the value of sticking to her, and even completely forgot her own needs:
  This is indeed very spectacular: Leningrad people, a large number of Leningrad people lying in a dark, damp corner, their beds trembling, they are weak and listless in the dark (God, how well I know I lost The only connection with the world is broadcasting. At this time, verses, my verses came from the outside world to this dark, isolated corner. In an instant, the hungry and desperate people in these corners became relaxed. If I can bring them this happy moment, even if it is fleeting, even if it is illusory, it also means that my existence is worthwhile.
  (Diary on May 13, 1942)

  The authorities entrusted Bergoritz with an important task, but this does not mean that she can arrange radio programs completely according to her own ideas; even in the extreme situation of the siege, the censorship of the propaganda department has not weakened in the slightest. On December 5, 1941, Bergoritz wrote the poem “A Conversation with a Female Neighbor”. The main content of this poem is the heart-to-heart conversation between the lyrical protagonist and the female neighbor Dalia Vlasievna about the siege. It is simple, natural and infectious. She wanted to read it aloud on the radio, but failed to pass the qualification examination. It was not until November 1942 that the Soviet army achieved a phased victory on the battlefield, and the poem was agreed to be broadcast by the superiors. The reason is that the relevant departments of the Soviet Union believed that the lack of bread mentioned in the poem would have a bad influence on the mood of the audience. Bergoritz expressed his dissatisfaction in his diary. Her starting point at this time is completely personal: as a poet, she believes that this excellent poem should not be treated like this.
  It was almost the same situation. From January to February of 1942, during the most difficult stage of the Great Siege, Bergoritz wrote the poem “February Diary” affectionately. She commented in her diary that this was her best work of the entire war years. The poem was quickly sent to the censors of the Smolny Party, and the first feedback given was that the poem should be printed separately as a pamphlet immediately. However, when the poem was returned to the Broadcasting Committee, the above instructions were “needs to be revised.” Bergoritz made a simple change to the poem, and the chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, V.A. Khodorenko, sent it to the secretary of the City Party Committee Propaganda Committee НД. Shumilov for review. On February 22, 15 minutes before the start of the 195th issue of “Broadcast Communications”, Smolny sent a request from Smolny to the Broadcasting Committee to “remove the poem”. The reason for the revocation was almost absurd: Belgo could not be allowed. Liz spoke on behalf of the entire Leningrad.
  We are now living two kinds of lives: / in the siege, in the darkness, in hunger, in sorrow, / we breathe tomorrow, / free and generous air, / we have seized this day.
  (“February Diary”)
  However, in the end, this magnificent poem escaped the harsh eyes of the censors. On July 5, 1942, the “Communist Youth League Pravda” published the “February Diary” in its entirety without any deletion. Bergoritz let out a long sigh of relief. As you can see from her diary on July 9th, she is still very satisfied with the result-“These poems, frankly speaking, are very good. I was reading in the newspaper, and I couldn’t help being excited and tears in my eyes.”

  Bergoritz has been engaged in broadcasting work in such an environment for a long time, but he has developed political consciousness to some extent. Although she has doubts, she still composes the radio manuscript according to the requirements of the superior review department. At the same time, she cherished the self in the diary even more, and all the “negative energy” emotions that could not be expressed to the public were kept in the diary. Some Russian scholars pointed out that Bergoritz is accustomed to writing with “two codes”-for the public, imitating and copying the discourse of the state, and monologue writing for private spaces. This strategy preserved her personality to the greatest extent, and at the same time guaranteed her place in the hearts of the besieged people in Leningrad, so that they could get a steady stream of vitality from it.

  Of all the unknown experiences during her siege, the most tragic one was related to her second husband, Nikolai Morchanov. Morchanov was a journalist who was very weak during the siege. On December 16, 1941, two days after the evacuation list was announced, Bergoritz wrote in his diary: “We did not leave on December 14. In every way, this is better-we will be dying of exhaustion, and Corica (Nikola) may die on the road.” January 29, 1942, just after planning the New Year’s party Soon, Morchanov died of excessive weakness. With sorrow, Bergoritz asked the people in the hospital to bury him in the trench, “We are on the front line, let him be buried as a soldier.”
  It takes 250 grams of bread to make a wooden box, 800 grams to dig a tomb, and then use a sleigh to pull him across the city, to the government department that bullies people, and pass by the Civil Affairs Bureau and other places-why? Does he need this, or does it somehow express my love for him? Could it help him by doing this now? It’s better to give these breads to the puffy Maruzia, so that she can eat something, and pray for him to rest in peace with the bread.
  He will strongly support me in doing this. “I want to tell him this,” I thought about it, and made a decision, “He will support me.”
  (January 30, 1942)
  It can be seen from the “Diary of the Imprisoned”, Morciano The shadow of her husband’s death on Bergoritz has never dissipated. In her diary in July 1942, she mentioned that she could not forget the people who died in the siege, her husband in those figures, and the little girl who had met by chance on the street and asked her for help. But in the same period of the broadcast, she never mentioned these traumas publicly. In other words, she transformed these “guilt” experiences into epic “Soviet People’s Passion”, even rising to the level of religion. For example, on November 22, 1942, Bergoritz read his poem “Autumn in Leningrad” on the radio. In the poem, he restored a woman holding wooden planks on the road into a religious scene for heating. The wood is part of the cross:
  a woman stands with a plank in her arms; /sullen lips are closed, /the plank full of nails-like a part of the crucifixion of Jesus / a huge remnant of the Russian cross.
  In fact, it is not only the citizens who moved the planks that were religiousized, but Bergoritz himself was also canonized during the siege, becoming a “political/religious” symbol that unifies the civil and official power (in the Memoirs of the Great Siege) In, she was once called the “Virgin Mary” in the world). On January 8, 1943, when the siege of Leningrad was finally lifted, Bergoritz did not immediately end her work on the radio station. She was appointed by her superiors to continue her work for several months, mainly responsible for broadcasting the post-war construction in Leningrad. .
  In the post-war peace era, faced with a reality that is difficult to explain in a word, Bergoritz chose to remain silent for a long time. “Siege” is no longer the theme of the times. She and the history she was proud of have been shrouded in dust. Until her death in 1975, she had published very few works, let alone diaries, which were the most incompatible with the image of this public intellectual.
  Today, in the Belgoritz archives kept in the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art, 71 notebooks are diaries and notes. Before she was alive, the Soviet government had been protecting them as special files. It was not until the disintegration in 1991 that all the archives were opened to the outside world.
  As part of the myth, “The Voice of Hope in the Siege of Leningrad”, Bergoritz was re-empowered with flesh and blood in the depths of history. Those voices that are different from mainstream propaganda also corresponded to the verse she once wrote: “Listen to the voices of those stones. You have to know that no one will be forgotten, and nothing will be forgotten.”

Belgoritz’s verse “No one will be forgotten, nothing will be forgotten” is carved on the wall behind the statue of the motherland mother in the Piskalev Cemetery in St. Petersburg, becoming Russia’s slogan to commemorate the “World War II”.