Lessons from Russian History for the Prepper Community (Part 1-of-3)

Guest Post: by Brad

Modern Survival Blog is one of the six websites that I visit on a daily basis. The information and comments on this forum are a treasure trove of warnings, practical advice and food for thought. With respect to the latter, I was struck by the article and comments from the June 13, 2011 article entitled “Houston We Have A Problem.” The article itself, as well as the comments thereto, highlight the fact that there is a (growing) community in the world of people who are aware of just how precarious “civilization” is, what can happen when one of the underpinnings that holds “civilization” together stops working, and finally, what one can do to prepare.

It is with those principles in mind that I relate the following scenarios and advice. I realize that these are just the observations and recommendations of one man whom (likely) none of you have ever met. However, I hope that there is something in the below recitations that will be of some use to at least one of you out there. I find that the information contained below is often received with interest; sometimes “good” interest and sometimes “bad” interest. I think this may be because the information below is largely first hand based upon my own experiences, and the one portion that is not first hand was received by me from those who did experience it firsthand.

So, for what it’s worth, I am pleased to relate to you three lessons from Russian History for the Prepper Community.

I returned to the United States in 1999 after spending a very protracted period of time in Russia. The country has a deep, fascinating and sometimes terrible history. However, of moment to this article are three events that, in my opinion, are very beneficial for each of us to consider and contemplate as we go about our business of preparing. These three events are so significant because these events actually transpired in SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios. By examining what actually transpired in a modern first world civilization during times of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI we can divine–to some extent–what would transpire in our own culture/geographic locations under similar circumstances. Thus, an evaluation of these three events can provide us with data for practical application as we prepare ourselves, our families and our communities. Furthermore, these three events are, in my opinion, important to consider because they are illustrative of what–again, in my opinion–are the most likely scenarios of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI.

The three events are, in chronological order: the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg); the financial crisis of 1998; and the war in Kosovo. I lived in Russia during the last two of these three events and personally witnessed their unfolding and the fallout therefrom. With respect to the first event, I personally know individuals who lived through the siege of Leningrad. Each of these SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios are addressed below.


Scenario #1: The Siege of Leningrad

During World War II, the capture of Leningrad was one of the three primary goals of the Nazi forces on the Eastern Front. The city held political, strategic and emotional importance as it was the former capital of the Russian Empire, the seat of the Baltic Fleet, home to numerous munitions factories, and the Russian bastion of the arts and sciences. In fact, Hitler was so fixated on the capture of this city that he actually had pre-printed invitations to the victory celebration to be held in one of the great hotels of the city.

The Nazi forces–at least 350,000 strong–approached the city of approximately 2.5 million souls during the summer of 1941. At the approach of the Nazi forces, 1.4 million individuals were evacuated from the city. Those who remained–men, women as well as children–were soon to be subjected to a long and brutal two and a half years. The Nazi advance was stymied through the resistance efforts of both soldiers and civilians, and the Nazis had yet to reach the city boundaries by the fall of 1941. However, by September 1941 the Nazi forces had successfully surrounded the city, although they were unable to break through the outer defenses. Nevertheless, the Russians could not claim victory. For a period of 872 days the Nazi forces laid siege to the city, bombarding its citizens with shelling and machine gun fire. I have personally strode past the signs that to this day stand as monument declaring “During shelling periods, stand on this side of the street to avoid death.” I have personally visited on many occasions the cemetery where over 500,000 victims of the siege rest interned. The 500,000 figure may seem high, but it is estimated that over 650,000 souls perished during the siege. During January and February of 1942 alone, between 7,000–10,000 died per day of starvation.

So, you may be asking yourself, what’s the point of this history lesson? Here it is.

During the time of the siege, the government seized control of the food sources. Rations were handed out–to those who could reach the supply tents, as many died on the way to the supply tents from cold and starvation—that consisted of 125 grams of bread mixed with sawdust. Those who were lucky killed and ate pigeons to supplement these meager rations. Many resorted to cannibalizing the dead (this is a documented truth; there are much more sinister rumors, however, that there were groups who would actively kill in order to cannibalize. One of my friends reports that as a child he was not permitted to travel alone as children would go missing. It was suspected that many of these children were cannibalized or placed into sexual slavery as their bodies were never found.).

Although we may not ever face a military siege of the type described above, it is (again, in my opinion) at least somewhat likely that a SHTF/TEOTWAWKI event would result in a prolonged food shortage. Such a prolonged food shortage could arrive in this country–or any other for that matter–by means of many things. With the ever efficient “Just In Time (JIT)” inventory systems of modern grocery stores, any disruption in the supply chain (a natural disaster such as a major earthquake or tsunami; a shortage of fuel to transport our food; a collapse of the fiat currency system; a famine; choose your own peril) would result in the same effects as seen by those in Leningrad during the siege. We would likely see government intervention and rationing that would likely be insufficient to sustain life as we now know it.

We would see large scale death by the mechanisms of disease, starvation and murder.

The practical lesson for me to take away here is that any number of events could cut off our food supply. Once that supply is disrupted the unprepared will die and/or live in unimaginably horrible circumstances. Thinking that the government or the goodwill of others will sustain you is folly, as seen by what transpired in Leningrad. If that happens, then people will die and resort to otherwise unthinkable acts. So, the lesson to us is to stock our larders deep and tall, and prepare to produce our own food supplies to the extent we can.

The Russian Financial Crisis of 1998
The Kosovo War (1998 – 1999)


  1. W.T. 06/15/2011
    • nyquil762 06/17/2011
  2. T in Texas 06/15/2011
  3. Cathy 06/15/2011
  4. tjaty2 - Pat 06/16/2011
  5. GoneWithTheWind 06/16/2011
  6. Ellen Godfrey 06/16/2011
  7. GoneWithTheWind 06/17/2011

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