By Leigh Kimmel
Even in a crowded communal apartment, Tikhon Grigoriev could hear the ever-present thudding of German mortars besieging Leningrad. The starving residents of the apartment gathered around the body of a boy who had committed suicide. They were equal parts grief-stricken and terrified of being accused of murdering him for his ration card.
Grigoriev, a member of Leningrad’s militsia police force, had come the moment he heard shrieks through a badly boarded window. However inexpertly tied, the rope had done its work. Nothing to do but cut the corpse down.