Delivering the goods to the besieged city could only be done by planes and by water –by Lake Ladoga under fire. The same way people were evacuated.

In November Ladoga was covered with ice, and on November 22 the “lifeline route” began operating. It was the only route that connected the besieged Leningrad with the mainland.

Saved Lives

The main difficulty in transporting goods in the fall of 1941 was that the Nazis were constantly bombing motorcades. And every time they departed on a trip across the ice of Lake Ladoga, the drivers didn’t know whether they would reach their destination. But the Germans still failed to break transportation on the route, which saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Aviation had hard time as well. A special group of 30 aircrafts from September to December has delivered to Leningrad more than 6000 tons of food and ammunition.

Scheduled Evacuation

In January of 1942, transportation on the winter road became constant and planned evacuation began. First were evacuated children, women, wounded and the elderly. In the period until April 15, the “lifeline route” managed to evacuate more than 550 thousand people.

Overall, from the besieged city about 1.3 million people were evacuated, of which more than 971,000 people were Leningrad residents.

Daily in both directions trucks transported several thousand tons of cargo. Overall, using the ice road, more than 1.6 million tons of goods were transported.

Children. Leningrad 1941-2012

Children. Leningrad 1941/2012. The collage by Sergey Larenkov

Legendary “Lorries”

Trucks were called by the people “lorries”. They were disguised using white cloth so that the Luftwaffe could not see them from the air. But apart from shooting attacks, motorcades faced another danger – ice of Lake Ladoga often cracked, and “lorries” together with people and goods went under water.

When an ice hole formed, people had no more than two minutes to rescue. Almost all drivers drove without closing the door to the cab to have enough time to jump when hitting an ice hole.

The “lifeline route” has saved many Leningrad residents from starvation: as a result of the evacuation and thanks to the goods delivered from the mainland.


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