Lifting of the Leningrad Blockade- This Day in History

27 January 2015

On this day in 1944 the siege of Leningrad was officially lifted when the Soviet offensive pushed German forces out of the city. It is one of the longest lasting and catastrophic sieges in history.

The blockade began on the 8th of July in 1941 and lasted nearly 900 days. Leningrad was officially cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union, and the people were left to fend for themselves against German forces occupying the city. The siege was a part of Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, their outline for invading the Soviet Union. Sieging the city of Leningrad was of particular importance to the Germans because they knew that the city was historically important due to it’s significance in the Russian Revolution. The city was also responsible for more than 10% of the Soviet Union’s industrial output, it housed the Baltic Fleet, and had a large population.

The Germans decided that food would be their main weapon, and it was calculated that the city would starve within a few weeks. Soviet forces did manage to bring supplies to the people using Lake Ladoga, however it was never enough. Leningrad saw the greatest loss of life that any city has ever seen. Energy, water, and food were rarely accessible, if at all. Roughly 1,500,000 people died, mostly from starvation, bombardment, and exposure. The winter from 1941-1942 proved to be particularly brutal, and food rations were stopped for anyone who wasn’t a worker or part of the military.

The Soviet Union made multiple attempts to defeat the German troops and lift the siege, but were unsuccessful until 1944. On the  27th of January the Soviet Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive successfully lifted the blockade by defeating German forces and sending them westward.

Today you can see many plaques and monuments around St.Petersburg tributing to those who experienced the siege. It would be difficult to find a person today that lives in the city and does not know someone who was affected. The siege is seen as proof of how strong and resilient Leningrad citizens, and Russians as a whole, are, and today is a day of remembrance.

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