The diary of a teenaged Russian schoolgirl who survived the 872-day siege of Leningrad during World War II has been published for the first time, leading some to compare her to Anne Frank.
Historians and literary experts have hailed the publication of Lena Mukhina’s diary, published in Russian under the title “Keep my Sad Story,” as a sensation in both its vividness and the quality of the writing, according to The Telegraph.
But unlike Anne, the Jewish teen who died in a Nazi concentration camp, Lena survived World War II despite being subjected to one of the worst sieges in human history. As many as 1.5 million people perished during the siege, which began in September 1941 and didn’t end until January 1944.
Lena was 16 when she began her diary; she suffered starvation, survived countless Nazi bombing raids and witnessed the death of her mother.
As one might imagine given the gravity of the Leningrad siege, there are numerous troubling passages.
In one The Telegraph recounts, Lena describes how her family had to kill their cat and cook it for food.
“Today we had delicious soup with meat and macaroni. The cat meat will be enough for two more meals. It would be good to get hold of another cat somewhere. I never thought cat meat would be so good and tender,” she wrote.
The diary was placed in the Soviet Union’s state archive in 1962 by an unknown donor where it lay undisturbed before it was discovered by historian Sergey Yarov.
Yarov, an academic at the European University of St. Petersburg, said he was struck by its quality and decided to get it published, the paper reported.
Editors assumed Lena had died in the blockade because the diary ended abruptly in 1942. It later emerged that she had actually survived however, and died in Moscow in 1991 without fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer.