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Raisa Sinicina

The paramedic in the siege of Leningrad


Story by Hannah Kirchleck

Photo by Dor Lovton

Raisa Sinicina, born in 1924 in Azerbaijan, is the only daughter of a physician mother and an engineer father. She served as a paramedic throughout the 872 siege days of Leningrad, the most severe siege in history during which millions were killed. She was 17 when she began volunteering in the Amputation section of the Leningrad hospital, which was converted at the time to a military hospital. She arrived daily for 12-hour shifts between 1941 to 1945, and assisted with complex amputation operations, helped evacuation of soldiers and worked in intensive care, caring for hundreds of soldiers and civilians. She tells of the horrors she saw among the injured, of the terrible cold which reached minus 50 degrees, of the hunger, because of which she was only entitled to 125 grams of food a day, and of the terrible siege on the city that left them stranded in the hospital without electricity and water. "during the war I was most afraid of the bombs. There were no alarms and there was no telling when it would happen and whether we would survive, she says. One day the hospital was bombed. "It was a miracle we survived. Someone had watched over us all. The pilots in the sky above, bombed buildings and hospitals, and there was no one to take pity on us. Hundreds of white-clad wounded patients rushed out of the hospital which had to be evacuated." In the following days, Raisa and the other paramedics, located the wounded patients in the surrounding apartment buildings. "It took us over a week to get everyone back to the hospital״ she says.
During the war, a man of extraordinarily beauty was brought to be treated in the hospital after being seriously injured and left legless. She cared for him with great dedication and after the war in the year 1948 they were married and had a daughter. In 1992, they immigrated to Israel. She is now 96 and the last survivor among her friends from the war. As the last survivor, she feels a sense of mission to tell about the events of those days.

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