According to the plan “Barbarossa” in the summer of 1941 Hitler was planning to conquer the Soviet Union in two months. In this regard, a key city in the northern direction was Leningrad, which had a special significance for the Soviet people.

Leningrad was surrounded from two sides – a group of German armies “North” was going through the Baltic States, and the second group of fascists was coming ​​from Finland. Initially, the city was to be taken immediately. To close for Russians access to the Baltic Sea and get out in the flank of the Russian army defending Moscow was an important strategic task for fascists. The Germans relied on the expectation that the besieged city would surrender.

Hitler decided to raze Leningrad to the ground with the help of aviation: “People need to be quickly driven out of the city or destroyed, or we will have to feed them during winter.”

Change in Hitler’s Strategy

Soon, however, Hitler’s plans with regards to Leningrad changed: instead of completely destroying the city he wanted to occupy it. Hitler ordered to intensify the offense with new tank divisions. On July 10 the Germans entered the territory of the Leningrad region from the south, and the Finnish divisions were moving in from the north.

Defending the City

150 km from the city of Leningrad by the town of Luga the Nazis were stopped by the Soviet troops. Russian resistance was so fierce that the Wehrmacht faltered for the first time and retreated for 40 km. Russianscontained the enemy for more than a month, until the Germans received reinforcements. In August, the Baltic Fleet aircraftsfor the first time started bombing the German capital.

Establishing the Siege of Leningrad

On August 24 an important transport artery was cut off – the railway between Moscow and Leningrad, and by August 29 the Northern Railway was cut off as well. The siege ring closed.

Mariinsky Theatre after the bombing. Leningrad

Mariinsky Theatre after the bombing. Leningrad 1941/2012. The collage by Sergey Larenkov

Total Siege

Finnish and German troops were closing down the ring. Leningrad suburbs were bombed daily and bombarded by artilleries of long-range guns. By August 31, the Germans blocked another way into the city – the river Neva. On September 8 the fascists entered Schlusselburg.

The siege ring closed.


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