Flags by Vera Vladimirovna Milyutina. Flags by Vera Vladimirovna Milyutina.

Page 39 Illustration of flags by Vera Vladimirovna Milyutina. 

Vera Vladimirovna Milyutina was a relatively unknown artist in the 1940s and was one of the collective of artists working on the album. Born 1903. She lived a long life and died in 1987. Years after the siege she shared her recollections:

“We [the collective of artists] were all finding it difficult to think. Everyone was suffering from vitamin deficiency, scurvy and anaemia. Our fingers lacked agility, our eyes clarity of vision, our brains tired easily.”

“After working for several hours, I would return to my bombed, partly burnt-out house. My grandfather would come back from his work and we would sit down to a meal of then broth and a galantine made of carpenter’s glue and bay leaves.”

“It fell to me to find the information we needed about the British flags. Our encyclopaedia only showed them in black and white but since we required them in colour, I had to consult the Library of the Academy of Sciences. I was given the necessary passes and set out to walk across the empty city…Though I had a walking stick, I was obliged to rest frequently. I found it difficult to get up when I had to sit down on doorsteps – for I had to cover the distance all the way form the Finland Station to the Vasilyevskiy Island. At last I reached the library. In the corridor some women were dragging a bale of books along the floor. I asked the authorities if I could see the British flags and crests. They told me that each of the library staff had climbed to the second floor, where the information was held, that day already and they had no more strength left to go up…I begged them and showed them my pass but they continued to say firmly: “Tomorrow they will go to the second floor”. The next day I set out on my journey again, leaving home soon after dawn. This time I was able to work for several hours in a corner of an empty study.”