Posted: August 30, 2010 in World War 2

Adolf Hitler seemed to reserve a special loathing for the city of Leningrad. Perhaps it was because Leningrad was the place where the revolution that had brought the communists to power in Russia in 1917 had taken place; perhaps it was because it was named for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the first ruler of the communist Soviet Union. Hitler stated in 1942; “St. Petersburg (Leningrad’s name under the pre-1914 Tsarist regime in Russia) must disappear utterly from the earth’s surface.

During the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Leningrad was the target of Army Group North. Within a month of the opening of hostilities, German tanks had cut the main Leningrad-Moscow railroad line, & by the start of September the first German artillery shells began to land on the city. Soviet defenses was complicated by the fact that Finnish forces, attempting to retake territory ceded to the Soviet Union after the Winter War of 1939-1940, moved southward & hampered supply efforts.


Hitler decided against a land attack into the city itself, because he did not want German troops to get held up in hand-to-hand urban warfare. He preferred to starve the city out. The epic siege lasted almost three years. Although all land links were cut, a road across Lake Ladoga functioned when the lake was frozen over during the winter months. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of civilians died in the siege. The heroism of the defenders & the plight of the civilians was significant in creating a more positive view of the Soviet Union in the West.

From Front Page, WWII: History In The Headlines 1939-1945


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