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Siege of Leningrad

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Operation Barbarossa & Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive

Soviet WWII poster: We will defend the city of Lenin! (The Siege of Leningrad)

The capture of Leningrad, a great Russian port on the Baltic Sea, was one of the main German objectives as the Nazis invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa. It possessed large amounts of industry which included munitions factories and the city was known as a center of Russian culture.

Hitler decided the city should be taken by siege rather than force — a method that would be less costly for the Germans. Surrounded and cut off from aid by September 1941, routine shelling of the city began by the German forces.

As food supplies dwindled, an ice road road was planned over the surface of Lake Ladoga. The road first became operational in November of 1941. Travel on the ice road was a dangerous prospect, which meant facing severe temperatures, storms, and attacks by German ski patrols. The first deliveries were made by horse until the ice was thick enough to support supply trucks. Also known as the Road of Life, it enabled both deliveries and evacuations to and from Leningrad during the winter months from 1941–1944.

With the Leningrad-Novgorod strategic offensive, the Red army opened a rail line and eventually broke through the German positions at Leningrad, liberating the city in January 1944 after a siege of 900 days. It is believed that starvation alone caused the deaths of over one million people.

The diary of Tanya Savicheva (written in a school notebook) documented the death of six of her family members. She was 11 years old when the siege began. The diary was presented at the Nuremberg trials as evidence of Nazi terrorism.

Poster: "We will defend the city of Lenin!" Pictured are an armed working man and woman, and armed men dressed in army and navy uniforms.

*Disclaimer: World War II posters, insignias and documents of Nazi Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan, are displayed on this website as historical documents of the time period. They are not intended to promote or condone any political, racial, military, religious, or social views and/or actions. This website does not condone genecide.