The entire episode is dedicated to the terrifying siege of Leningrad, which was one of the most gruesome episodes of World War II.
The 70th anniversary of the siege of Leningrad that was to last for 872 days -- from September 1941 to January 1944 -- sparked a predictable cycle of controvercy whether the terrible human cost of resistance was reasonable. Nearly three million people endured it. By the end of the siege, the number of deaths is estimated as 1.5 million. The city was one of the primary targets of 'Operation Barbarossa' due to its enormous historical and geographical significance. By mid - September 1941 Leningrad was effectively cut-off from the rest of Russia with minimal food and energy supplies, enduring near-constant bombardment.
While it certainly wouldn't have been possible to provide every significant aspect of the siege in full detail, this episode features the story of particular geographical features of the region, describing combat and battlefields, military strategies and tactics. Archival footage gives a glimpse of the immense suffering and the degraded conditions of Leningraders who lived through the blocade. In a graphic and moving fashion the episode outlines that the people of Leningrad consistently fought back in the midst of their own daily struggles to survive in the temperatures that dipped below 30 degrees below zero, with no heat and no light. You see the street signs that read Гра́ждане! При артобстре́ле э́та сторона́ у́лицы наибо́лее опа́сна Citizens: during artillery bombing this side of the street is most dangerous; the victims of hunger disease (дистрофия) and corpses that accumulated in the city's streets, parks and other open areas.You learn the amount of bread each Leningrader got at certain points and hear the story of a survivor of German propaganda leaflets aimed to demoralize Leningraders and encourage them to surrender.
This impressive account however does not trace the causes in the tragedy of Leningrad. Treachery of Stalin's governmental policies that ultimately played into Hitler's plans for capturing the city remains a complete mystery. Likewise, the episode does not mention the atrocious Russian military failures in the first part of the siege. It might also have been helpful to know exactly how food and basic supplies were received and distributed among Leningraders, what the exact policies were. It seems that the authors of this episode deliberately chose not to mention the issues of responsibility and blame in a discussion of siege of Leningrad.
The aspects that are not picked up in this episode are the inspiring story of the first Leningrad performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony in August 1942 and the improbable circumstances of its composition, as well as the heartbreaking stories of cliff climbers who covered the golden spires of the Admiralty building and St. Peter and Paul Cathedral with camouflage cloths and coated the dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral with gray paint. Still, the episode provides a decent amount of insight into a tragedy of Leningrad.