RYBLOVA M.A. Children of Stalingrad: Wartime Food Practices

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2015.4.16

Marina Aleksandrovna Ryblova

Doctor of Sciences (History),

Leading Researcher, Southern Scientific Center, RAN,

Professor, Department of International Relations and Foreign Area Studies,

Volgograd State University

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Prosp. Chekhova, 41, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation


Abstract. This article gives analysis of food practices of children in Stalingrad during the War, based on an earlier published memories and also results of 264 interviews of Volgograd and Volgograd region citizens, whose childhood took place during the Great Patriotic War. Based on historical and anthropological approach, this study reveals and characterizes dramatic changes, which took place in those children’ dietary ration, methods of getting food, its processing and consumption during their life in the city ruined by bombardments, sieged and later occupied by enemy forces. 

The conducted analysis revealed that in most cases children of Stalingrad copied the experience of adults in their attempts to get food for themselves and provide it to their relatives. So, in a wide use there were such deviant practices of survival as marauding and stealing; archaic feeding methods as gathering and natural economy revival; and feeding anomalies as eating for such products that have been never used in the past. At the same time experience of previous generations who lived through wars and hunger and who preserved in their collective memory information about folk traditions of survival in the extreme circumstances, has been preserved and actualized in the life support system of all Stalingrad citizens.

At the war time food practices of Stalingrad citizens downgraded were often to the level of simple physical satisfaction, traditions of feats settings were curtailed, and rules and restrictions related to the previous had disappeared. But even in difficult conditions of ruined and sieged city Stalingrad citizens and their children widely used methods and ways of hunger and its effects overcoming, that were formed in the Russian national environment, i.e. neighbours mutual aid traditions, caring attitude towards food, and methods of its search and consumption.

Key words: anthropology of wartime childhood, children’s strategies and practices of survival during the war, food practices in extreme conditions, “children of wartime Stalingrad”, mutual assistance.

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Children of Stalingrad: Wartime Food Practices by Ryblova M.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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