Obituary: Daniil Granin, Soviet wartime veteran and siege chronicler

Daniil Granin, a Russian author who wrote a chronicle of the German siege of Leningrad and several widely popular novels, has died. He was 98.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and famous Russian writer Daniil Granin, 98,. Picture: Alexei Druzhinin/Pool File via AP

Granin, a World War II veteran whose writings made him a moral authority for many in Russia, died on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Russian news reports said. President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to his family, praising Granin as a “great thinker” and a “man of great spiritual strength”.

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Granin, who was trained as an industrial engineer, joined the Red Army when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and fought through the end of WWII. He published his first work in 1949 and authored several novels inspired by his experience as an engineer, describing scientists fighting for their inventions against stolid bureaucracy. Several of Granin’s books were turned into movies.

In the 1970s, Granin published A Book of the Blockade, containing horrifying accounts by survivors of the Nazi siege. When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched his Glasnost campaign, Granin won acclaim with a 1987 biography of genetic scientist Nikolai Timofeev-Resovsky who faced repression under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s rule.

In 2014, Granin made a powerful speech about the siege of Leningrad at the German parliament. City authorities said Granin was due to be buried at the weekend.