Yuri Ryabinkin

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Yuri Ryabinkin
Yuri Ivanovich Ryabinkin

2 September 1925
DiedDead by 2 March 1942
(aged 16)
Saint Petersburg, Soviet Union

Yuri Ivanovich Ryabinkin (Russian: Юрий Иванович Рябинкин; 2 September 1925 – between 8 January and 2 March 1942), was a Russian boy who endured the Siege of Leningrad. He kept a personal diary from 22 June 1941 (the day the Germans invaded the Soviet Union) to 6 January 1942.

He gained posthumous fame a few years later after World War II ended, when his diary was printed by a press. His diary was first published in 1970.[1]

Yuri's fate remains unknown. It is known that he did not survive the siege of Leningrad, and that he died between 8 January and 2 March 1942 (due to records confirming it). The exact date of his death and his burial place, has not been recorded.

Life and family[change | change source]

Yuri Ivanovich Ryabinkin was born on 2 September 1925 in Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad). His younger sister Irina was born on 30 April 1933. His mother Antonina Mikhailovna Riabinkina (née Pankina), who was born on 13 August 1903, came from a family belonging to the intelligentsia. She finished education at the gymnasium and knew French, German, and Polish, well. Yuri and his family lived in a apartment, which even had a library. By 1941 (when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union), Antonina worked as a librarian and was also a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Yuri's father left the family in April 1933, remarried, and lived with his new wife in a Russian village, near Finland, before being sent to the Gulag, in 1937.

Living with his aunt alone until he was 7, he and his aunt moved in with his mother. In 1933, he began to attend school, and by the age of 15, finished eighth grade. In 1938, whilst sill in school, Yuri began to study the sea in Kuybyshev for one year, and, in 1941, began to study history in the House of Pioneers of Leningrad. Yuri lived with Irina, Antonina, and his aunt in Sadova Street (today named the July 3 street) in Leningrad. When the Ryabinkins learned about the invasion of the Soviet Union, they preferred to stay in Leningrad (because Antonina was a member of the Communist Party). When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, Yuri suffered from poor eyesight and lung disease, which is why he never made any attempts to join the Red Army. During the siege of Leningrad, in the fall of 1941, his mother Antonina advised him to go to a navy school, so that Yuri could be in better conditions and be evacuated from Leningrad, but Yuri did not pass the test and was rejected from the Navy.

Yuri began writing a diary on 22 June 1941 (without mentioning why he wanted to keep a diary, at all), without his sister, Irina's knowledge. The only known person to know that Yuri kept a diary, was his mother Antonina. According to his diary, she did not want him to keep a diary.

In a entry dated December 1941, Yuri mentions that he and his family were included in a list of those who will be evacuated from Leningrad, stating that the list showed they will be evacuated somewhere between one day to seven days (one week), but later states that the evacuation was later postponed for almost one month. Sometime later, his mother Antonina recieved a work card, his sister Irina a child card, and Yuri recieved one slice of bread. In the last entry for 1941 dated 24 December, Yuri recalls their life before the war and happiness.

In the first week of January 1942, Yuri and his family began to suffer from severe stomach disease. The last entry dated 6 January, ends literally in mid-sentence. Two days later on 8 January, the family were put on evacuation, whilst Yuri stayed behind, being gravely ill and weak. Yuri died alone in the family's apartment a few days later from starvation. After traveling for two weeks, the family arrived in Volgoda, where Antonina died the same day they arrived, from exhaustion. Irina, still alive, was sent to a orphanage in the city. On 11 February, Irina was sent to another orphanage in the village of Nikitskaya. She never found out what happened to her brother Yuri, almost all her life.

Once Irina became a adult, she began searching for her brother Yuri, and asked archivists for records, to discover Yuri's fate.

In February 2021, an archivist found records from the siege of Leningrad indicating that Yuri Ryabinkin died in 1942. Irina was later told of her brother's death.

The fate of Yuri's diary[change | change source]

Sometime in 1942 in Volgoda, a schoolteacher was taken to a hospital, suffering from tuberculosis. There, he gave a nurse named Rebekah Trifonovah in the hospital, a notebook which was Yuri Ryabinkin's diary. The schoolteacher was so weak that he could not talk, and therefore, he did not say where he got the diary. He died a few days later in the hospital. The nurse published the diary in 1970.

References[change | change source]

  1. Jones, Michael (2009). Leningrad: State of Siege. Hachette. ISBN 9781848541214.