Siege of Leningrad Facts

Siege of Leningrad Facts
Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg, was a major target for the Germans during World War II because it was the Soviet Union's second largest city, was the center of the Bolshevik Revolution, and was home to the Soviet Union's major Baltic Sea port. It became the site of a major siege by the Axis forces that lasted from September 8, 1941 until January 27, 1944. German Army Group A, led by Field Marshall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb (1876-1956), cut all roads and rail lines east, south, and west of the city while the Finnish Army, led by Field Marshall Carl Mannerheim, cut off all routes to the north beginning on September 8, 1941. A more than two year siege then took place that finally ended on January 27, 1944 with an Axis retreat. The Soviets suffered more than three million military casualties and more than half of its civilian population of 650,000 was lost, although most were evacuated. The situation was dire, with civilians resorting to cannibalism toward the end of the siege. A number of factors, though, played a role in Leningrad being able to survive. The Finns played more of a defensive role and did not actively participate in the actual siege operations, other than seizing roads and railways. The Red Army knew that it was a fight to the death and that the Germans would offer them no quarter if they surrendered. Finally, as the situation changed in other parts of the Eastern Front, the Soviets were able to launch a counteroffensive to lift the siege.
Interesting Siege of Leningrad Facts:
There is a rumor that Adolf Hitler was so confident of an Axis victory at Leningrad that he organized a victory party at the city's Hotel Astoria.
The Nazis had no real interest in the city itself, so they had no problem destroying the city to defeat the Soviet forces. The Germans planned to give the Finns everything north of the Neva River after their victory.
The Italians contributed an assault vessel squadron to the Axis effort, which fought on Lake Ladoga.
The Axis forces essentially planned to starve the Soviets out of the city. Early in the siege, they made few major efforts to take the city by force.
Although the Finns wanted desperately to recapture land they lost to the Soviet Union in the Winter War (1939-1940), they did not share with the Germans the hatred of the Soviet Union. Finnish Field Marshal Gustav Mannerheim actually served in the Imperial Russian Army for much of his career.
Nearly two million Russians were evacuated from Leningrad during the siege. Those who stayed resorted to cannibalism by 1943.
The Red Army supplied the city through boats, or in the winter by trucks, across the southern tip of Lake Ladoga.
The Soviets lost more than one million soldiers during the siege and in the course of lifting it, in addition to the hundreds of thousands dead civilians. The losses were more than the American and British forces suffered combined through the entire war.

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