Saint Petersburg and the Siege of Leningrad

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, a German army surrounded the city of Leningrad (today’s Saint Petersburg) in an extended siege.

The siege lasted nearly 900 days and resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million civilians.

During the siege, the city established supply lines from the Soviet interior and evacuated many citizens, often using a hazardous “ice and water road” across Lake Ladoga. In January 1943, the Red Army finally managed to break that siege.

I arrived in Saint Petersburg for a vacation and took one day to see the battle areas, and the most important “road of life” – a path that kept the city alive during these almost three horrible years.

My tour guide was Alexander from Histours. Alexander drove me in his car, and for almost 9 hours, we visited the main locations that formed the story of the siege and its breaking.

Armed with maps, photos and deep knowledge of the area and the people, Alexander took me through the road of life, to the battle that broke the siege through Neva River that starts at Lake Ladoga and ends in the Gulf of Finland, in Saint Petersburg.

The road of life:

The road of life was used to evacuate people from the city and bring supplies in. In the map, the gray color is the control area of the Nazis.

Road of Life. November-December 1941
Germash19 – the crossing marks with red.

This memorial is for kids. A young girl gives her sister a phone book, so she will be able to write a diary (normal notebooks were hard to get).

On these stones are the pages where she writes the death dates of her family. Each page indicates the dead (mother, dad, grandmother…) the time and date of death.

Pages from a little girls diary, describing the death of her family.

With these stones, we follow a young girl’s life during the siege, while all her family is fading away, one by one.

Following the road of life, we climb a hill that was used as a hospital. Here, mass graves of the wounded that died later, the women of war and all other forgotten brave ones, who did not die on the battlefield.

Original road of life
Original road of life
For the women of war

The main part of the road of life was the crossing of Lake Ladoga, which is frozen most of the year.

The crossing was done with trucks, with ice in any condition – many did not finish the journey.

Here is the memorial in the exact point where the trucks went down to the ice and started crossing the lake.

The memorial symbolizes the breaking of the siege.

After crossing the lake, a train was used to transfer the supply into the city.

Without the Chinese people.

Later, a bridge was built. The Germans kept bombing it, and the Russians fixed it. The Germans did not try to fight hard against the road of life since they were sure it was a waste of resources for the Red Army and the city wouldn’t survive with this small means of transportation.

Finally, the Red Army was able to break the siege in crossing the frozen Neva River; the battle began with an orchestra playing the “International.”

Diorama of the battle of Leningrad
Diorama of the battle of Leningrad

This point held the hardest battles.

And then the shock came.

This land saw the hardest battle. It was here where they broke the siege. Every piece of land saw so much blood and gunpowder.

It is still full of remains, and it is being dug. Everywhere you go, you see war items, such as gas masks, shoes, etc. At one point, we saw human bones that were discovered.

German shoe (with nails) and Russian (glue)
German shoe (with nails) and Russian (glue)
Human remains
Human remains
Human remains
Human remains
Nazi shoe.

Not far away from there, Russian soldiers buried the remains that were found.

 

It is amazing to see, that until today, we still haven’t covered out everything from that war.

The tour was given by Alexander, a private tour guide. I highly recommend him. It was a fascinating day, with stories that are not told enough in the west.

For the bravery of the people of Saint Petersburg, and the brave people that defended them.

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