Maria Koronatova Ralph's story

04 November 2014

By Pan Macmillan

My grandmother, Raisa Kotova Naidovich, was one of the women trapped inside of Leningrad as the Nazi army encircled the city and began a 900 day siege. My grandfather, Aaron Naidovich, was fighting on the front and would collect crusts from the bread of his fellow soldiers and sneak this precious cargo to my grandmother, before the city was completely shut down.

When Aaron was no longer able to get the small packages of stale bread to Raisa, she was left on her own with a child on the way and a six-year-old boy, Boris, to keep alive.

Boris, my uncle, tells the story of his mother’s iron will. He says their food allotment was one piece of dark bread for the day. Raisa would take the bread and cut it into three even pieces. One for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner. No amount of begging, pleading or tears would allow the small piece of bread to be rewarded before its time. Raisa and Boris survived. The baby did not.

My grandmother once said that the hardest thing she ever did was eat that small piece of bread. She wanted to give it to her child who was starving. The reason she ate it was that if she did not live, nor would Boris.

She was an amazing woman. Her strength and will to live are what make my mother, myself and my daughter proud to be Russian, to be women and to carry her memory with us always.

Edge of Eternity