I grew up during the Leningrad Blockade. Then neither wine nor women turned my head. I saw the Badayev Warehouses in ashes laid And queued up for my meager dole of bread. Brave citizens, what were you doing then, When our city couldn’t even count its dead? You were eating caviar and bread, while I Scrounged for cigarette butts instead. Birds were grounded by the bitter cold. For a thief there wasn’t anything to bum. That winter angels took away my folks, And I feared that I, too, might succumb. We were deluged with hunger, malnutrition. All starved-even the public procurator. We read news about evacuation And listened to the radio commentator. It seemed the blockade never would be over, But our nation in the end won victory. And now we could really live in clover, If the volunteer militia’d only let us be. I beg you kindly, citizens in armbands, Don’t lay upon my soul your grubby hands! The AUCCTU1, I’d suppose, Our unpatriotic deeds already knows.
1 The volunteer militia is an unpaid auxiliary police force which wears red armbands and patrols the streets of Soviet cities to combat hooliganism, i.e., thievery, drunkenness, and brawling. Workers arc recruited for these assignments through local organs of the AUCCTU (The All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions), which also maintain work records of all citizens (including arrests and sentences). The thief in this ballad seems not to mind adding a new arrest to his record.
© Misha Allen. Translation, 1968