"Soviet Signalman Petting A Kitten On The Breastwork Trenches"

In a staged photo, a Red Army signalman pets a kitten in a trench. Leningrad was cut off from the Soviet Union on September 8, 1941. The city administration concentrated the food stores in locations that were bombed in November 1941 by the Germans, wiping out the city's rations. The city's pets went into the pot when the cupboards were bare and the black market ran out of food; small pets sold for a month's wage or a kilogram of sugar or flour. The administration did not discourage these activities, but forbade discussion fearing a loss of morale. The city's rat population did not explode with the absence of cats; front line soldiers believed the rats moved into the trenches because there was more food there. Probably rats were being eaten by the Leningraders as well. Rats in the trenches became a serious problem, especially in the summer of 1942. As the rats spread disease and ate up or contaminated rations, cats from all over The Soviet Union were shipped to Leningrad to combat the rat population. The first shipment arrived on February 7, 1943 with the first train to arrive after the blockade was lifted. This photo was probably staged to show the compassion of the average Red Army soldier.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Archival Identifier: 
Leningrad Oblast
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics