Paris/Leningrad: Coffee & Croissants or Honor & Pride?

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Michail Michailov


Quite recently I tweeted one remarkable historical photo, in which the French gendarmes show the way to soldiers of the Wehrmacht in Paris, helping the occupational army to take the capital of their country under control. While 74 years ago, soldiers of two Soviet fronts, in cold, in snow, broke through the Blockade of Leningrad. Broken through at the price of many lives; accomplished a mass feat, knowing that behind them there was a city dying of cold and hunger, but hadn’t surrendered. A city that was eating bread crumbs, that was cutting down trees, and was burning furniture to stay warm; a city in which hungry children were extinguishing firebombing; a city in which bakers were dying of hunger whilst baking bread for their citizens. And the city survived. And won. Won at a terrible price, while somewhere in Paris people were drinking coffee and were eating their croissants. Yes, being under the German boot, but they considered that coffee with croissant was worth it. But how paradoxical it would look – Paris at this time was dead, but Leningrad was alive. Because Leningrad had honor, pride, and a conscience.

And Paris had only coffee with croissants.

French Gendarmes show the way to the Wehrmacht entering in Paris. In 1945, France will appear amongst the state-winners.

“Spark” of Life & Hope: How the Blockade of Leningrad was Broken

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