Terror at Leningrad

For this post, I am using the 900 Days: Siege of Leningrad module from the 17 Moments in Soviet History. This moment in Soviet history is particularly dark, and the Nazi onslaught at Leningrad proved to be one of the most destructive and deadly moments for the Soviet Union in the Second World War.


At the beginning of the German siege of Leningrad in September 1941, the city’s population numbered around 2.5 million residents. The city’s dwellers faced incredible hardships including constant shelling from the Nazi attackers, extremely harsh winters, and virtually no food and water. The photograph below shows civilians stranded in Leningrad foraging for water in artillery shell craters.

Food rations were continually reduced during the siege. Factory workers received 250 grams of bread per day, with office workers, children and the elderly getting 125 grams. People began to die en masse, with local burial services removing hundreds of dead bodies from city streets each day. In all, 1.3 million people were evacuated from the city during the entire siege. But most of the children would never see their parents again. Photo: Residents of besieged Leningrad collecting water from artillery-shell craters in the asphalt.

The siege of Leningrad resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians within the city. In an effort to resist the siege and endure the many months of primal living, all able-bodied civilians were mobilized to build defenses and reinforce fortifications throughout the besieged city. Below is an example of the civilian mobilization, where in many cases the residents were forced into slave labor by the Soviet authorities and military leaders. This photo shows Leningrad residents building a fortification in the city. As you can see most of the people working in the photo are women, and one can assume that probably most of the men that these women were married to were either killed or conscripted into the Red Army and stationed on the city’s defensive perimeter.

The so-called Road of Life across Lake Ladoga was the only route linking the city with the rest of the country. But this route could not provide Leningrad with enough food. The Red Army tried to lift the siege of Leningrad five times throughout 1942, but to no avail. Photo: Residents of besieged Leningrad building defenses. 1942.

By the time the siege was broken in January 1944, 800,000 residents had died of starvation and 200,000 were killed by Nazi bombings. Of the original population of 2.5 million, 1 million had died in the 2 year siege.


These photos were found on this website:







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