Hitler triumphantly announced the beginning of the siege on September 8. But his generals, who led the Wehrmacht forces near Leningrad, were in a bad moodin the early fall of 1941.

Generals saw the mistake of the Fuehrer in that he had already outlined the unconquered city as the “secondary direction of military operations.”

Leningrad – “a Lost Battle”

Hitler was interested only in Moscow. On September 15 he was going to transfer to the Russian capital seven tank divisions and two air corps. General Leeb, the commander of the Army “North”, already on September 11 wrote in his diary that the battle for Leningrad was a “lost battle.”

Hitler’s Mistakes

In Hitler’s headquarters they obviously didn’t have the information about the real situation of military forces near Leningrad. Hitler did not realize that the Russian troops were not going to leave the besieged city and will resist till the end. He also did not imagine that the residents of Leningrad will not be defeated by either hunger or bombings. Finally, Hitler did not share the view point of Leeb, that in the battle for Leningrad every day mattered.

Hitler’s Orders

In mid-September in 1941 Leeb was given the following orders: to close the ring more tightly around Leningrad, to crush the remains of the Soviet army and to connect with the Finnish army at the Karelian Isthmus, plus to isolate the Baltic Fleet near Kronstadt.

Victims of shelling. Leningrad

Victims of shelling. Leningrad 1941/2012. The collage by Sergey Larenkov

The Real Situation

In reality, connecting of the Germans with the Finnish divisions by Ladoga was impossible: they were blocked by the Russian troops. On the west bank of the Neva River a powerful line of defense of the Russian troops was created, and to force the water zone further Germans did not even try.

From Pulkovo Heights (20 km from Leningrad) by the forces of Russian artillery was halted an offensive of a powerful tank corps. And on September 24, near Kolpino (27 km from the city) the offensive of the six divisions of the Nazis was stopped as well.

The warships near Kronstadt were bringing significant damage to the German infantry.

Nazis could not occupy Leningrad in a flash attack.

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