The Siege of Leningrad

Aida Larson

The Siege of Leningrad

Tuesday, Jan. 27th 1942 at 3:30am to Thursday, Jan. 27th 1944 at 5:30am

Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Known today as Saint Petersburg the city, despite its troubling past, still stands.

The Threat of Invasion

The city of Leningrad was under the constant threat of being taken over by Germany, as it was a key point for Germany in their strategic war plan known as "Operation Barbarossa" and the focused target for Army Group North. The City at the time was Russia's capital and a standing symbol of hope for the Russian revolution, as well as a home to the base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. In addition the City produced massive amounts of weapons and firearms for the Russian army. As any could plainly see, it was a very big point of interest for warring countries against it.

The Goal Plan

A key objective for German forces was the capture of Leningrad. Strategically situated at the head of the Gulf of Finland, the city possessed immense symbolic and industrial importance.Starting on June 22, 1941, Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb's Army Group North Predicted Leningrad to come to their fall almost immediately. Needless to say it wasn't as easy as the city- or the army- would have expected.

An Expected fall.

Many of the citizens knew of the impending invasion, though the Germans had little to fight with, and Russia was known for it's strong defense. This meant that the Germans could not properly occupy the city. This gave them hope. By September 8th, 1941, German tanks were nearing the city and cutting it off from trade and communication from the rest of Russia. The cities food supply quickly depleted as refugees fled to the city- even as it was suffering. An estimated 100,000 refugees entered the already 2,500,000 people population (not including children).

Germany's Tactics

Anticipating a German thrust towards Leningrad, Soviet leaders began fortifying the region around the city days after the invasion commenced. Creating the Leningrad Fortified Region, they built lines of defenses, anti-tank ditches, and barricades. Resuming the advance, Army Group North reached the Neva River on August 30 and severed the last railway into Leningrad. Completing the goal of cutting of Leningrad from the rest of the country.

During the Siege

During the bombardment, the people of Leningrad began to suffer as food and fuel supplies depleted rapidly with the refugees and population growing. With winter quickly approaching, supplies for the city crossed the frozen surface of Lake Ladoga on the "Road of Life" but these proved insufficient to prevent widespread starvation. Through the winter of 1941-1942, hundreds died daily and some in Leningrad resorted to cannibalism. In an effort to alleviate the situation, attempts were made to evacuate civilians. While this did help, the trip across the lake proved extremely hazardous and saw many lose their lives.

The City's Relief

The siege was broken in January of 1943 and only a year later, on January 27 1944 it was fully lifted officially by the government. At least 641,000 people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (But that was only the RECORDED deaths, there were suspected to be even more than that). Most of them were buried in mass graves in different cemeteries, with the majority in the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery, resting place to over 500,000 people and a timeless reminder of the heroic deeds of the city.

The Siege of Leningrad
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Anna Andreievna - manager Astoria Hotel:

You don't know what it was like. You just stepped over corpses in the street and on the stairs. You simply stopped taking any. It was no use worrying. Terrible things used to happen. Some people went quite insane with hunger. And the practice of hiding the dead somewhere in the house and using their ration cards was very common indeed. There were so many people dying all over the place authorities couldn't keep track of all the deaths... You should have seen me in February 1942. Oh, Lord, I looked funny! My weight dropped from seventy kilos to forty kilos in four months! Now I'm back to sixty-two - feeling quite plump..."

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The diary of Tanya Savicheva

The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11,contained her notes about starvation and deaths of her sister, grandmother, brother, her two uncles, and mother. The final three notes say "Savichevs died", "Everyone died" and "Only Tanya is left." She died of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege.