Siege of Leningrad

Siege of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Blokada Leningrad diorama.jpg
Diorama of the Siege of Leningrad, in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow
Date 8 September 1941 – 27 January 1944 (871 days)
Location Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Result Soviet victory
Nazi Germany Germany
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) Italy[3]
 Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany W.R. von Leeb
Nazi Germany Georg von Küchler
Finland C.G.E. Mannerheim[4][5]
Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov
Soviet Union Kliment Voroshilov
Soviet Union Leonid Govorov
Casualties and losses
unknown Red Army:[6]
1,017,881 killed, captured or missing
2,418,185 wounded and sick

642,000 during the siege, 400,000 at evacuations

The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade (Russian: блокада Ленинграда, transliteration: blokada Leningrada) was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last land connection to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, lifting of the siege took place on 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and one of the most costly in terms of casualties.[7]



The capture of Leningrad was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North. The strategy was motivated by Leningrad's political status as the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet and its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.[8] By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output.[9] It has been reported that Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had the invitations to the victory celebrations to be held in the city's Hotel Astoria already printed.[10] The ultimate fate of the city was uncertain in German plans, which ranged from renaming the city to Adolfsburg[11] and making it the capital of the new Ingermanland province of the Reich in Generalplan Ost, to razing it to the ground and giving areas north of the River Neva to the Finns.[12][13]


German plans

Army Group North under Feldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Von Leeb's plan called for capturing the city on the move, but due to strong resistance from Soviet forces, and also Hitler's recall of 4th Panzer Group, he was forced to besiege the city after reaching the shores of Lake Ladoga, while trying to complete the encirclement and reaching the Finnish Army under Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim waiting at the Svir River, east of Leningrad.[14]

Finnish military forces were located north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south.[15] Both German and Finnish forces had the goal of encircling Leningrad and maintaining the blockade perimeter, thus cutting off all communication with the city and preventing the defenders from receiving any food or supplies.[2][14][16][17][18][19]

Leningrad fortified region

Antiaircraft guns guarding the sky of Leningrad, in front of St. Isaac's Cathedral.

On 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised "First response groups" of civilians. In the next days the entire civilian population of Leningrad was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the perimeter of the city in order to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance.[2][4]

In the south one of the fortified lines ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Gatchina, Uritsk, Pulkovo and then through the Neva River. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Pulkovo, Kolpino and Koltushy. In the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in the northern suburbs of Leningrad since the 1930s, and was now returned to service. A total of 190 km (120 mi) of timber barricades, 635 km (395 mi) of wire entanglements, 700 km (430 mi) of anti-tank ditches, 5,000 earth-and-timber emplacements and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements and 25,000 km (16,000 mi)[citation needed] of open trenches were constructed or excavated by civilians. Even the guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad.


The 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and reached the neighborhood of Luga and Novgorod, within operational reach of Leningrad, but it was stopped by fierce resistance south of the city. However, the 18th Army — despite some 350,000 men lagging behind — forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line. This had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, with the eventual aim of isolating Leningrad from all directions. The Finnish Army was then expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga.[20]

Orders of battle

Map of Army Group North's advance into the USSR in 1941.
  Coral up to July 9.
  Pink up to September 1.
  Green up to December 5.


  • Army Group North (Feldmarshal von Leeb)[21]
    • 18th Army (von Küchler)
      • XXXXII Corps (2 infantry divisions)
      • XXVI Corps (3 infantry divisions)
    • 16th Army (Busch)
      • XXVIII Corps (2 inf, 1 armoured divisions)
      • I Corps (2 infantry divisions)
      • X Corps (3 infantry divisions)
      • II Corps (3 infantry divisions)
      • (L Corps — Under 9. Army) (2 infantry divisions)
    • 4th Panzer Group (Hoepner)
      • XXXVIII Corps (1 infantry division)
      • XXXXI Motorized Corps (Reinhard) (1 infantry, 1 motorised, 1 armoured divisions)
      • LVI Motorized Corps (von Manstein) (1 infantry, 1 motorised, 1 armoured, 1 panzergrenadier divisions)


  • Finnish Defence Forces HQ (Finnish Marshal Mannerheim)[22]
    • I Corps (2 infantry divisions)
    • II Corps (2 infantry divisions)
    • IV Corps (3 infantry divisions)

Soviet Union

  • Northern Front (Lieutenant General Popov)[23]
    • 7th Army (2 rifle, 1 militia divisions, 1 marine brigade, 3 motorised rifle and 1 armoured regiments)
    • 8th Army
      • X Rifle Corps (2 rifle divisions)
      • XI Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (3 rifle divisions)
    • 14th Army
      • XXXXII Rifle Corps (2 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (2 rifle divisions, 1 Fortified area, 1 motorised rifle regiment)
    • 23rd Army
      • XIX Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (2 rifle, 1 motorised divisions, 2 Fortified areas, 1 rifle regiment)
    • Luga Operation group
      • XXXXI Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (1 armoured brigade, 1 rifle regiment)
    • Kingisepp Operation Group
      • Separate Units (2 rifle, 2 militia, 1 armoured divisions, 1 Fortified area)
    • Separate Units (3 rifle divisions, 4 guard militia divisions, 3 Fortified areas, 1 rifle brigade)

Of these, the 14th Army defended Murmansk and 7th Army defended Ladoga Karelia; thus they did not participate in the initial stages of the siege. The 8th Army was initially part of the Northwestern Front and retreated through the Baltics. (The 8th army was transferred to Northern Front on July 14).

On August 23, the Northern front was divided into the Leningrad front and the Karelian front, as it became impossible for front headquarters to control everything between Murmansk and Leningrad.

Severing lines of communication

On 6 August, Hitler repeated his order: "Leningrad first, Donetsk Basin second, Moscow third."[24] From August 1941 until January 1944, anything that happened between the Arctic Ocean and Lake Ilmen concerned the Wehrmacht's Leningrad siege operations.[4] Arctic convoys using the Northern Sea Route delivered American Lend-Lease food and war materiel supplies to the Murmansk railhead (although the rail link to Leningrad was cut off by Finnish armies just north of the city), as well as several other locations in Lapland.[citation needed]

Encirclement of Leningrad

Finnish intelligence was particularly helpful for Hitler, as the Finns had broken some of the Soviet military codes and were able to read their low-level communications.[25] He constantly requested intelligence information about Leningrad.[4] Finland's role in Operation Barbarossa was laid out in Hitler's Directive 21, "The mass of the Finnish army will have the task, in accordance with the advance made by the northern wing of the German armies, of tying up maximum Russian strength by attacking to the west, or on both sides, of Lake Ladoga".[26] The last rail connection to Leningrad was severed on 30 August, when the Germans reached the Neva River. On 8 September, the last land connection to the besieged city was severed when the Germans reached Lake Ladoga at Orekhovets. Bombing on 8 September caused 178 fires.[27] Hitler's directive on 7 October, signed by Alfred Jodl, was a reminder not to accept capitulation.[28]

Finnish participation

Hitler with Finland's Marshal Carl Gustav Mannerheim and President Risto Ryti; meeting at Imatra in 1942

By August 1941, the Finns had advanced to within 20 km of the northern suburbs of Leningrad at the 1939 Finnish-Soviet border, threatening the city from the north; they were also advancing through East Karelia, east of Lake Ladoga, and threatening the city from the east. The Finnish forces crossed the pre-Winter War border on the Karelian Isthmus by eliminating Soviet salients at Beloostrov and Kirjasalo, thus straightening the frontline so that it ran along the old border near the shores of Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, and those positions closest to Leningrad still lying on the pre-Winter War border. According to Soviet claims the Finnish advance was stopped in September through resistance by the Karelian Fortified Region,[29] however Finnish troops had already earlier in August 1941 received orders to halt the advance after reaching their goals, some of which lay beyond the pre-Winter War border. After reaching their respective goals, the Finns halted their advance and started moving troops to East Karelia.[30][31] For the next three years, the Finns did little to contribute to the battle for Leningrad, maintaining their lines.[32] Their headquarters rejected German pleas for aerial attacks against Leningrad[33] and did not advance farther south from the Svir River in occupied East Karelia (160 kilometers northeast of Leningrad), which they had reached on 7 September. In the southeast, the Germans captured Tikhvin on 8 November, but failed to complete their encirclement of Leningrad by advancing further north to join with the Finns at the Svir River. On 9 December, a counter-attack of the Volkhov Front forced the Wehrmacht to retreat from their Tikhvin positions to the River Volkhov line.[2][4]

On 6 September 1941, Germany's Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl visited Helsinki. His main goal was to persuade Mannerheim to continue the offensive. In 1941, President Ryti declared to the Finnish Parliament that the aim of the war was to restore the territories lost during the Winter War and gain more territories in the east to create a "Greater Finland".[34][35][36] After the war, Ryti stated: "On August 24, 1941 I visited the headquarters of Marshal Mannerheim. The Germans aimed us at crossing the old border and continuing the offensive to Leningrad. I said that the capture of Leningrad was not our goal and that we should not take part in it. Mannerheim and the military minister Walden agreed with me and refused the offers of the Germans. The result was a paradoxical situation: the Germans could not approach Leningrad from the north..." In fact the German and Finnish armies maintained the siege together until January 1944, but there was little, or no systematic shelling or bombing from the Finnish positions.[15]

The proximity of the Finnish positions — 33–35 km (21–22 mi) from downtown Leningrad — and the threat of a Finnish attack complicated the defence of the city. At one point the defending Front Commander, Popov, could not release reserves opposing the Finnish forces to be deployed against the Wehrmacht because they were needed to bolster the 23rd Army's defences on the Karelian Isthmus.[37] Mannerheim terminated the offensive on 31 August 1941, when the army had reached the 1939 border. Popov felt relieved, and redeployed two divisions to the German sector on September 5.[38]

Subsequently, the Finnish forces reduced the salients of Beloostrov and Kirjasalo,[39] which had threatened their positions at the sea coast and south of the River Vuoksi.[39] Lieutenant General Paavo Talvela and Colonel Järvinen, the commander of the Finnish Coastal Brigade responsible for Ladoga, proposed to the German headquarters the blocking of Soviet convoys on Lake Ladoga. The German command formed the 'international' naval detachment under Finnish command and the Einsatzstab Fähre Ost under German command. These naval units operated against the supply route in the summer and autumn of 1942, the only period the units were able to operate as freezing waters then forced the lightly equipped units to be moved away, and changes in front lines made it impractical to reestablish these units later in the war.[15][25][40][41]

Defensive operations

Two Soviet soldiers, one armed with a DP machine gun, in the trenches of the Leningrad Front on 1 September 1941.

The Leningrad Front (initially the Leningrad Military District) was commanded by Marshal Kliment Voroshilov. It included the 23rd Army in the northern sector between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, and the 48th Army in the western sector between the Gulf of Finland and the Slutsk–Mga position. The Leningrad Fortified Region, the Leningrad garrison, the Baltic Fleet forces, and Koporye, Southern and Slutsk–Kolpino operational groups were also present.

Defence of civilian evacuees

By September 1941, the link with the Volkhov Front (commanded by Kirill Meretskov) was severed and the defensive sectors were held by four armies: 23rd Army in the northern sector, 42nd Army on the western sector, 55th Army on the southern sector, and the 67th Army on the eastern sector. The 8th Army of the Volkhov Front had the responsibility of maintaining the logistic route to the city in coordination with the Ladoga Flotilla. Air cover for the city was provided by the Leningrad military district PVO Corps and Baltic Fleet naval aviation units.

The defensive operation to protect the 1,400,000 civilian evacuees was part of the Leningrad counter-siege operations under the command of Andrei Zhdanov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Aleksei Kuznetsov. Additional military operations were carried out in coordination with Baltic Fleet naval forces under the general command of Admiral Vladimir Tributs. The Ladoga Flotilla under the command of V. Baranovsky, S.V. Zemlyanichenko, P.A. Traynin, and B.V. Khoroshikhin also played a major military role in helping with evacuation of the civilians.


Nurses helping wounded people during a German bombardment on 10 September 1941.

By 8 September, German forces had largely surrounded the city, cutting off all supply routes to Leningrad and its suburbs. Unable to press home their offensive, and facing defences of the city organised by Marshal Zhukov, the Axis armies laid siege to the city for 872 days.

Artillery bombardment of Leningrad began in August 1941, increasing in intensity during 1942 with the arrival of new equipment. It was stepped up further during 1943, when several times as many shells and bombs were used as in the year before. Torpedoes were often used for night bombings by the Luftwaffe.[citation needed] Against this, the Soviet Baltic Fleet Navy aviation made over 100,000 air missions to support their military operations during the siege.[42] German shelling and bombing killed 5,723 and wounded 20,507 civilians in Leningrad during the siege.[43]

Supplying the defenders

US propaganda film showing the Leningrad Road of Life during the siege of the city.
Supplies being unloaded from a barge on Lake Ladoga to a narrow-gauge train in 1942.

To sustain the defence of the city, it was vitally important for the Red Army to establish a route for bringing a constant flow of supplies into Leningrad. This route was effected over the southern part of Lake Ladoga, by means of watercraft during the warmer months and land vehicles driven over thick ice in winter. The security of the supply route was ensured by the Ladoga Flotilla, the Leningrad PVO Corps, and route security troops. The route would also be used to evacuate civilians from the besieged city. This was because no evacuation plan had been made available in the chaos of the first winter of the war, and the city literally starved in complete isolation until 20 November 1941, when the ice road over Lake Ladoga became operational.

This road was named the Road of Life (Russian: Дорога жизни). As a road it was very dangerous. There was the risk of vehicles becoming stuck in the snow or sinking through broken ice caused by the constant German bombardment. Because of the high winter death toll the route also became known as the "Road of Death". However, the lifeline did bring military and food supplies in and took civilians and wounded soldiers out, allowing the city to continue resisting the enemy.

Effect on the city

The two-and-a-half year siege caused the greatest destruction and the largest loss of life ever known in a modern city.[15] On Hitler's express orders, most of the palaces of the Tsars, such as the Catherine Palace, Peterhof Palace, Ropsha, Strelna, Gatchina, and other historic landmarks located outside the city's defensive perimeter were looted and then destroyed, with many art collections transported to Nazi Germany.[44] A number of factories, schools, hospitals and other civil infrastructure were destroyed by air raids and long range artillery bombardment.

The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11, her notes about starvation and deaths of her grandmother, then uncle, then mother, then brother, the last record saying "Only Tanya is left." She died of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege. Her diary was shown at the Nuremberg trials.

The 872 days of the siege caused unparalleled famine in the Leningrad region through disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies. This resulted in the deaths of up to 1,500,000[45] soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of 1,400,000 more, mainly women and children, many of whom died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment.[1][2][4] Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery alone in Leningrad holds half a million civilian victims of the siege. Economic destruction and human losses in Leningrad on both sides exceeded those of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Moscow, or the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The siege of Leningrad is the most lethal siege in world history, and some historians speak of the siege operations in terms of genocide, as a "racially motivated starvation policy" that became an integral part of the unprecedented German war of extermination against populations of the Soviet Union generally.[46][47]

Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–1942. For example, from November 1941 – February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures, and distributed through ration cards. For about two weeks at the beginning of January 1942, even this food was available only for workers and military personnel. In conditions of extreme temperatures (down to −30 °C) and city transport being out of service, even a distance of a few kilometers to a food distributing kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. In January–February 1942, about 700–1,000[citation needed] citizens died every day, most of them from hunger. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death.

Reports of cannibalism appeared in the winter of 1941–1942, after all birds, rats and pets had been eaten by survivors.[48] Hungry gangs attacked and ate defenceless people.[49] Leningrad police even formed a special unit to combat cannibalism.[50]

On 9 August 1942, the Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad" by Dmitri Shostakovich was performed by the Radio orchestra of Leningrad.[51] The score had passed the German lines by air one night in March 1942. The concert was broadcast on loudspeakers placed in all the city and also aimed towards the enemy lines. This date, initially chosen by Hitler to celebrate the taking of Leningrad, and a few days before the Sinyavino Offensive, can symbolise the reversal of the dynamics in favour of the Soviet army.

Soviet relief of the siege

Soviet ski troops by the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad.

Sinyavino Offensive

The Sinyavino Offensive was a Soviet attempt to break the blockade of the city in early autumn 1942. The 2nd Shock and the 8th armies were to link up with the forces of the Leningrad Front. At the same time the German side was preparing an offensive, Operation Nordlicht (Northern Light), to capture the city, using the troops freed up after the capture of Sevastopol.[52] Neither side was aware of the other's intentions until the battle started.

The Sinyavino offensive started on 27 August 1942, with some small-scale attacks by the Leningrad front on the 19th, pre-empting "Nordlicht" by a few weeks. The successful start of the operation forced the Germans to redirect troops from the planned "Nordlicht" to counterattack the Soviet armies. The counteroffensive saw the first deployment of the Tiger tank, though with limited success. After parts of the 2nd Shock Army were encircled and destroyed, the Soviet offensive was halted. However the German forces had to abandon their offensive on Leningrad as well.

Operation Iskra

The encirclement was broken in the wake of Operation Iskra — (English: Operation Spark) — a full-scale offensive conducted by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts. This offensive started in the morning of 12 January 1943. After fierce battles the Red Army units overcame the powerful German fortifications to the south of Lake Ladoga, and on 18 January 1943 the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts met, opening a 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi)[verification needed] wide land corridor, which could provide some relief to the besieged population of Leningrad.

Lifting the siege

The siege continued until 27 January 1944, when the Soviet Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive expelled German forces from the southern outskirts of the city. This was a combined effort by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts, along with the 1st and 2nd Baltic Fronts. The Baltic Fleet provided 30% of aviation power for the final strike against the Wehrmacht.[42] In the summer of 1944, the Finnish Defence Forces were pushed back to the other side of the Bay of Vyborg and the Vuoksi River.



  • April: Hitler intends to occupy and then destroy Leningrad, according to plan Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost[53]
  • 22 June: The Axis powers' invasion of Soviet Union begins with Operation Barbarossa.
  • 23 June: Leningrad commander M. Popov, sends his second in command to reconnoitre defensive positions south of Leningrad.[54]
  • 29 June: Construction of the Luga defence fortifications (Russian: ) begins[55] together with evacuation of children and women.
  • June–July: Over 300,000 civilian refugees from Pskov and Novgorod escaping from the advancing Germans come to Leningrad for shelter. The armies of the North-Western Front join the front lines at Leningrad. Total military strength with reserves and volunteers reaches 2 million men involved on all sides of the emerging battle.[citation needed]
  • 19–23 July: First attack on Leningrad by Army Group North is stopped 100 km (62 mi) south of the city.[citation needed]
  • 27 July: Hitler visits Army Group North, angry at the delay. He orders Field Marshal von Leeb to take Leningrad by December.[53]
  • 31 July: Finns attack the Soviet 23rd Army at the Karelian Isthmus, eventually reaching northern pre-Winter War Finnish-Soviet border.
  • 20 August-8 September: Artillery bombardments of Leningrad hit industries, schools, hospitals, and civilian houses.
  • 21 August: Hitler's Directive No.34 orders "Encirclement of Leningrad in conjunction with the Finns."[56]
  • 20–27 August: Evacuation of civilians is blocked by attacks on railways and other exits from Leningrad.[57]
  • 31 August: Finnish forces go on the defensive and straighten their front line.[31] This involves crossing the 1939 pre-Winter War border and occupation of municipalities of Kirjasalo and Beloostrov.[31]
  • 6 September: German High Command's Alfred Jodl fails to persuade Finns to continue offensive against Leningrad.[33]
  • 2–9 September: Finns capture the Beloostrov and Kirjasalo salients and conduct defensive preparations.[39][58]
  • 8 September: Land encirclement of Leningrad is completed when the German forces reach the shores of Lake Ladoga.[15][53]
  • 10 September: Joseph Stalin appoints General Zhukov to replace Marshal Voroshilov as Leningrad Front commander.[59]
  • 12 September: The largest food depot in Leningrad, the Badajevski General Store, is destroyed by a German bomb.[60]
  • 15 September: von Leeb has to remove the 4th Panzer Group from the front lines and transfer it to Army Group Center for the Moscow offensive.[61]
  • 19 September: German troops are stopped 10 km (6.2 mi) from Leningrad. Citizens join the fighting at the defence lines.[citation needed]
1,496,000 Soviet personnel were awarded the medal for the defence of Leningrad from 22nd December 1942.
  • 22 September: Hitler directs that "Saint Petersburg must be erased from the face of the Earth".[62]
  • 22 September: Hitler declares, "....we have no interest in saving lives of the civilian population."[62]
  • 8 November: Hitler states in a speech at Munich: "Leningrad must die of starvation."[15]
  • 10 November: Soviet counter-attack begins, forcing Germans to retreat from Tikhvin back to the Volkhov River by 30 December, preventing them from joining Finnish forces stationed at the Svir River east of Leningrad.[63]
  • December: Winston Churchill wrote in his diary "Leningrad is encircled, but not taken."[64]
  • 6 December: Great Britain declared war on Finland. This was followed by declaration of war from Canada, Australia, India and New Zealand.[65]


  • 7 January: Soviet Lyuban Offensive is launched; it lasts 16 weeks and is unsuccessful, resulting in the loss of the 2nd Shock Army.
  • January: Soviets launch battle for the Nevsky Pyatachok bridgehead in an attempt to break the siege. This battle lasts until May 1943, but is only partially successful. Very heavy casualties are experienced by both sides.
  • 4–30 April: Luftwaffe operation Eis Stoß (ice impact) fails to sink Baltic Fleet ships iced in at Leningrad.[66]
  • June–September: New German artillery bombards Leningrad with 800 kg (1,800 lb) shells.
  • August: The Spanish Blue Division (División Azul) transferred to Leningrad.
  • 14 August – 27 October: Naval Detachment K clashes with Leningrad supply route on Lake Ladoga.[15][25][41]
  • 19 August: Soviets begin an eight-week-long Sinyavino Offensive, which fails to lift the siege, but thwarts German offensive plans (Nordlicht).[67]


Hero-City Obelisk
  • January–December: Increased artillery bombardments of Leningrad.
  • 12–30 January: Operation Iskra penetrates the siege by opening a land corridor along the coast of Lake Ladoga into the city. The blockade is broken.
  • 10 February – 1 April: The unsuccessful Operation Polyarnaya Zvezda attempts to lift the siege.


  • 14 January – 1 March: Several Soviet offensive operations begin, aimed at ending the siege.
  • 27 January: Siege of Leningrad ends. Germans forces pushed 60–100 km away from the city.
  • January: Before retreating the German armies loot and destroy the historical Palaces of the Tsars, such as the Catherine Palace, Peterhof Palace, the Gatchina, and the Strelna. Many other historic landmarks and homes in the suburbs of St. Petersburg are looted and then destroyed, and a large number of valuable art collections are moved to Nazi Germany.
  • During the siege, 3200 residential buildings, 9000 wooden houses (burned), 840 factories and plants were destroyed in Leningrad and suburbs.[68]

Additional notes

Controversy over Finnish participation

Almost all historians regard the siege as a German operation and do not consider that the Finns effectively participated in the siege. Russian historian Nikolai Baryshnikov argues that active Finnish participation did occur, but historians have been mostly silent about it, most likely due to the friendly nature of post-war Soviet-Finnish relations.[69] The main issues which count in favor of the former view are: (a) the Finns stayed at the pre-Winter War border at the Karelian Isthmus, despite German wishes and requests, and (b) they did not bombard the city from planes or with artillery and did not allow the Germans to bring their own land forces to Finnish lines.[citation needed] Baryshnikov explains that the Finnish military in the region strategically depended on the Germans, and it lacked the required means and will to press the attack against Leningrad any further.[70]

Monument to the 'Road of Life'

On October 29, 1966, a monument to the Road of Life was erected. Entitled "Broken Ring", designed and created by Konstantin Simun, this monument pays tribute not only to the lives saved via the frozen Ladoga, but also the many lives broken by the blockade.

The monument is a huge bronze ring with a gap in it, pointing towards the site that the Soviets eventually broke through the encircling German forces. The German bunker they captured is preserved as a memento opposite the break.

In the centre a Russian mother cradles her dying soldier son. It is customary for newlyweds to come here to give thanks to the fallen. Whilst being sited in the centre of a roundabout it is easily accessed.

The monument implies that the siege lasted 900 days.

Deportation of civilians

Deportations of Finns and Germans from Leningrad area to inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union have been reported from March 1942. For that, the Road of Life was used.[71]

See also


  1. ^ a b Brinkley 2004, p. 210
  2. ^ a b c d e Wykes 1972, pp. 9–21
  3. ^ Baryshnikov 2003; Juutilainen 2005, p. 670; Ekman, P-O: Tysk-italiensk gästspel på Ladoga 1942, Tidskrift i Sjöväsendet 1973 Jan.–Feb., pp. 5–46.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Carell 1966, pp. 205–210
  5. ^ Salisbury 1969, p. 331
  6. ^ a b Glantz 2001, pp. 179
  7. ^ The Siege of Leningrad, 1941 - 1944
  8. ^ Carell 1963[page needed]
  9. ^ Saint Petersburg-The Soviet Period,"Saint Petersburg." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 19 Jul. 2011.
  10. ^ Orchestral manoeuvres (part one). From the Observer
  11. ^ Bezymenskiĭ, Lev (1968). Sonderakte "Barbarossa".. Deutsche Verlag-Anstalt. p. 204. 
  12. ^ In a conversation held on 27 November 1941 with the Finnish Foreign Minister Witting, Hitler stated that Leningrad was to be razed to the ground and then given to the Finns, with the River Neva forming the new post-war border between the German Reich and Finland.
  13. ^ Vehviläinen, Olli (2002). Finland in the Second World War: between Germany and Russia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 104. ISBN 9780333801499. 
  14. ^ a b Carell 1966, pp. 205–208
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Baryshnikov 2003[page needed]
  16. ^ Higgins 1966[page needed]
  17. ^ Brinkley 2004, pp. 210
  18. ^ Miller 2006, pp. 67
  19. ^ Willmott 2004
  20. ^ Хомяков, И (2006) (in Russian). История 24-й танковой дивизии ркка. Санкт-Петербург: BODlib. pp. 232 с. 
  21. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 367
  22. ^ National Defence College 1994, pp. 2:194,256
  23. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 351
  24. ^ Higgins 1966, pp. 151
  25. ^ a b c Juutilainen 2005, pp. 187–9
  26. ^ Führer Directive 21. Operation Barbarossa
  27. ^ "St Petersburg - Leningrad in the Second World War" 9th May 2000. Exhibition. The Russian Embassy. London
  28. ^ "Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 8", from The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
  29. ^ (in ru) Карта обстановки на фронте 23 Армии к исходу 11.09.1941. Архив Министерства обороны РФ. фонд 217 опись 1221 дело 33. 1941. 
  30. ^ Raunio, Ari; Kilin, Juri (2007). Jatkosodan hyökkäystaisteluja 1941. Keuruu: Otavan kirjapaino Oy. pp. 153–159. ISBN 978-951-593-069-9. 
  31. ^ a b c National Defence College 1994, p. 2:261
  32. ^ Glantz 2001, pp. 166
  33. ^ a b National Defence College 1994, p. 2:260
  34. ^ Vehviläinen 2002
  35. ^ Пыхалов, И (2003). "великая оболганная война". Военная литература. Со сслылкой на Барышников В.Н.Вступление Финляндии во Вторую мировую войну. 1940-1941 гг. СПб. Militera. pp. с. 28. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  36. ^ "и вновь продолжается бой...". Андрей Сомов. Центр Политических и Социальных Исследований Республики Карелия.. Politika-Karelia. 2003-01-28. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  37. ^ Glantz 2001, pp. 33–34
  38. ^ Platonov 1964[page needed]
  39. ^ a b c National Defence College 1994, pp. 2:262–267
  40. ^ YLE: Kenraali Talvelan sota (in Finnish)
  41. ^ a b Ekman, P-O: Tysk-italiensk gästspel på Ladoga 1942, Tidskrift i Sjöväsendet 1973 Jan.–Feb., pp. 5–46.
  42. ^ a b Гречанюк 1990
  43. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 130
  44. ^ Nicholas, Lynn H. (1995). The Rape of Europa: the Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. Vintage Books
  45. ^ Salisbury 1969, pp. 590f
  46. ^ Ganzenmüller 2005, pp. 17,20
  47. ^ Barber 2005
  48. ^ 900-Day Siege of Leningrad
  49. ^ PBS World War 2 Retrieved on March 30, 2010.
  50. ^ This Day in History 1941: Siege of Leningrad begins
  51. ^ Orchestral manoeuvres (part two). From the Observer
  52. ^ E. Manstein. Lost victories. Ch 10
  53. ^ a b c Cartier 1977[page needed]
  54. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 31
  55. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 42
  56. ^ Higgins 1966, pp. 156
  57. ^ The World War II. Desk Reference. Eisenhower Center director Douglas Brinkley. Editor Mickael E. Haskey. Grand Central Press, 2004. Page 8.
  58. ^ "Approaching Leningrad from the North. Finland in WWII (На северных подступах к Ленинграду)" (in Russian). 
  59. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 64
  60. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 114
  61. ^ Glantz 2001, p. 71
  62. ^ a b Hitler, Adolf (1941-09-22). "Directive No. 1601" (in Russian). 
  63. ^ Carell 1966, pp. 210
  64. ^ Churchill, Winston (2000) [1950]. The Second World War (The Folio Society ed.). London: Cassel & Co. pp. Volume III, pp.. 
  65. ^ pp.98–105, Finland in the Second World War, Bergharhn Books, 2006
  66. ^ Bernstein, AI; Бернштейн, АИ (1983). "Notes of aviation engineer (Аэростаты над Ленинградом. Записки инженера — воздухоплавателя. Химия и Жизнь №5)" (in Russian). pp. с. 8–16. 
  67. ^ Glantz 2001, pp. 167–173
  68. ^ Siege of 1941-1944
  69. ^ Baryshnikov 2003, p. 3
  70. ^ Baryshnikov 2003, p. 82
  71. ^ Klaas 2010


  • Barber, John; Dzeniskevich, Andrei (2005), Life and Death in Besieged Leningrad, 1941–44, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 1-4039-0142-2 
  • Baryshnikov, N.I. (2003), Блокада Ленинграда и Финляндия 1941–44 (Finland and the Siege of Leningrad), Институт Йохана Бекмана 
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  • Kirschenbaum, Lisa (2006), The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941–1995: Myth, Memories, and Monuments, Cambridge University Press, New York, ISBN 0-521-86326-0 
  • Klaas, Eva (2010), A Deportee Published His Memories in Book, Virumaa Teataja, 
  • Lubbeck, William; Hurt, David B. (2006), At Leningrad's Gates: The Story of a Soldier with Army Group North, Pen and Sword Books Ltd, ISBN 9781844156177, 
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  • Wykes, Alan (1972), The Siege of Leningrad, Ballantines Illustrated History of WWII 


  • Backlund, L.S. (1983), Nazi Germany and Finland, University of Pennsylvania. University Microfilms International A. Bell & Howell Information Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
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  • Baryshnikov, V.N. (1997), Neuvostoliiton Suomen suhteiden kehitys sotaa edeltaneella kaudella, TPH 
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  • Higgins, Trumbull (1966), Hitler and Russia, The Macmillan Company 
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External links

External images
the Siege of Leningrad
Russian map of the operations around Leningrad in 1943 Blue are the German and co-belligerent Finnish troops. The Soviets are red.[1]
map of the advance on Leningrad and relief Blue are the German and co-belligerent Finnish troops. The Soviets are red.[2]

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