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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City’s Resilience

The Siege of Leningrad, one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, took place during World War II. It began on September 8, 1941, when Nazi Germany and Finland encircled Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), the Soviet Union’s second-largest city. This siege was part of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on June 22, 1941. The strategic objective for the Germans was to capture Leningrad, a major industrial and logistic city, and to sever the Soviet Union’s access to the Baltic Sea.

Initial German Advances and Encirclement

Initially, German forces advanced rapidly in the Soviet Union. By late July 1941, they reached the outskirts of Leningrad. The city was surrounded from the south, and Finnish forces closed in from the north. The blockade effectively isolated the city from the rest of the Soviet Union. By early September, the only way to reach the city was through Lake Ladoga, a route that would later become known as the “Road of Life.”

The Hardships Inside Leningrad

The siege led to extreme hardship for the residents of Leningrad. Food and fuel supplies quickly dwindled, leading to severe famine and cold. Rationing was implemented, but the rations were insufficient to sustain life. The winter of 1941-1942 was particularly brutal, with temperatures dropping well below freezing, worsening the living conditions. Starvation and civilian casualties increased dramatically during this period.

The Road of Life

In response to the dire situation, the Soviets established the Road of Life across the frozen Lake Ladoga. This ice road became a crucial supply line, over which food and fuel were transported into the city, and civilians were evacuated. Despite constant bombing and shelling by German forces, this route remained operational and was critical for the survival of Leningrad’s population.

Soviet Resistance and Fortifications

Despite the harsh conditions, the city’s defenders, including civilians, showed remarkable resilience. They built extensive fortifications, including anti-tank ditches and artillery emplacements, turning Leningrad into a heavily fortified position. The city’s factories were also adapted to produce war materiel, contributing to the Soviet war effort.

The Lifting of the Siege

After enduring for over two years, the siege began to weaken. In January 1943, a Soviet offensive operation, Operation Iskra, successfully opened a narrow land corridor to the city along the southern shore of Lake Ladoga. This breakthrough alleviated the city’s isolation, although it did not completely lift the siege. The full lifting of the blockade came about a year later, on January 27, 1944, following a series of Soviet military operations that pushed German forces back.

The Siege of Leningrad lasted for 872 days, from September 8, 1941, to January 27, 1944. It resulted in immense suffering and loss of life, with civilian deaths estimated to be over one million, mostly from starvation. The end of the siege was a significant turning point in the Eastern Front of World War II, marking the beginning

#1 Marshal Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko with Red Army Soldiers, Finnish Border, 1940

Marshal Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko with Red Army Soldiers, Finnish Border, 1940

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#2 Dmitri Shostakovich During the Siege of Leningrad, USSR, WWII, 1941

Dmitri Shostakovich During the Siege of Leningrad, USSR, WWII, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#3 Women Collecting Remains of a Dead Horse, Siege of Leningrad, 1941

Women Collecting Remains of a Dead Horse, Siege of Leningrad, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#4 Kirov Factory Volunteers Marching to Defend Leningrad

Kirov Factory Volunteers Marching to Defend Leningrad

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#5 Lessons in the Ruins During the Siege of Leningrad, 1941

Lessons in the Ruins During the Siege of Leningrad, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#6 German Soldiers Resting During the Siege of Leningrad, September 1941

German Soldiers Resting During the Siege of Leningrad, September 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#7 Civilians Building Defense Lines in Leningrad, August 1941

Civilians Building Defense Lines in Leningrad, August 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#8 Siege of Leningrad, Russian Front, September 1941

Siege of Leningrad, Russian Front, September 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#9 German Army Captures Schluesselburg, Encircling Leningrad, September 8, 1941

German Army Captures Schluesselburg, Encircling Leningrad, September 8, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#10 German Soldiers Occupying Soviet Defense Positions, Leningrad, September 1941

German Soldiers Occupying Soviet Defense Positions, Leningrad, September 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#11 German Soldiers Fighting for a Village Near Leningrad, September 1941

German Soldiers Fighting for a Village Near Leningrad, September 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#12 German Soldiers in Soviet Defense Positions, Leningrad, October 1941

German Soldiers in Soviet Defense Positions, Leningrad, October 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#13 View of Leningrad from 4km at the Frontline, September 1941

View of Leningrad from 4km at the Frontline, September 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#14 German Long-Range Artillery Shelling Kronstadt, October 1941

German Long-Range Artillery Shelling Kronstadt, October 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#15 Heavy Artillery Firing at the Beginning of the Leningrad Siege, October 1941

Heavy Artillery Firing at the Beginning of the Leningrad Siege, October 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#16 German Machine-Gun Position, Leningrad, October 14, 1941

German Machine-Gun Position, Leningrad, October 14, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#17 Women Digging Defenses in Leningrad, October 25, 1941

Women Digging Defenses in Leningrad, October 25, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#18 German Soldiers Watching Attacks on Russian Defense Line, Leningrad, 1941

German Soldiers Watching Attacks on Russian Defense Line, Leningrad, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#19 German MG Trench Position, Siege of Leningrad, December 1942

German MG Trench Position, Siege of Leningrad, December 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#20 Soviet Soldier with Rifle, Leningrad, 1942

Soviet Soldier with Rifle, Leningrad, 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#21 Soviet Troops Counter-Attacking During Siege of Leningrad

Soviet Troops Counter-Attacking During Siege of Leningrad

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#22 Residents Clearing Snow from Nevsky Prospect, Leningrad, 1942

Residents Clearing Snow from Nevsky Prospect, Leningrad, 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#23 Victims of Nazi Bombing with Dead Child, Leningrad Blockade, 1942

Victims of Nazi Bombing with Dead Child, Leningrad Blockade, 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#24 Ice Road over Lake Ladoga, Leningrad, 1942

Ice Road over Lake Ladoga, Leningrad, 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#25 German Soldier in Snow Camouflage, Leningrad, January 1942

German Soldier in Snow Camouflage, Leningrad, January 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#26 Woman Carrying Corpse on Sledge, Leningrad, February 1942

Woman Carrying Corpse on Sledge, Leningrad, February 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#27 Norwegian Legion Soldiers in Leningrad Trench, 1942

Norwegian Legion Soldiers in Leningrad Trench, 1942

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#28 Horse Used for Food, Leningrad Blockade, 1943

Horse Used for Food, Leningrad Blockade, 1943

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#29 Siege of Leningrad, January 1943

Siege of Leningrad, January 1943

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#30 German Soldiers Loading Rocket-Launcher, Leningrad, January 1944

German Soldiers Loading Rocket-Launcher, Leningrad, January 1944

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#31 Captured German Soldiers Marched Through Leningrad, January 30, 1944

Captured German Soldiers Marched Through Leningrad, January 30, 1944

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#32 Liberation of Leningrad, Russia, WWII, 1944

Liberation of Leningrad, Russia, WWII, 1944

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#33 Russian Orphans from Leningrad Siege at Children’s Home No.9

Russian Orphans from Leningrad Siege at Children's Home No.9

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#34 German Troops During the Capture of Leningrad

German Troops During the Capture of Leningrad

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#35 Fishermen Pulling Seine on Neva River, Leningrad, Early 1950s

Fishermen Pulling Seine on Neva River, Leningrad, Early 1950s

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#36 Warwickshire Regiment Riflemen in Battle of France, 1940

Warwickshire Regiment Riflemen in Battle of France, 1940

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#37 During the Siege of Leningrad, State Museum of the Political History, St. Petersburg

During the Siege of Leningrad, State Museum of the Political History, St. Petersburg

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#38 Spanish Riders Setting Front Line at Leningrad

Spanish Riders Setting Front Line at Leningrad

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#39 Leningrad: A Death

Leningrad: A Death

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#40 Fighter Pilot Captain Mochalov Returning from Successful Sortie, Leningrad, 1941

Fighter Pilot Captain Mochalov Returning from Successful Sortie, Leningrad, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#41 Soviet Soldiers, Siege of Leningrad, 1943

Soviet Soldiers, Siege of Leningrad, 1943

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#42 The Siege of Leningrad, Boris Pavlovich Kudoyarov, 1941

The Siege of Leningrad, Boris Pavlovich Kudoyarov, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#43 Soviet Marines in Leningrad at the Beginning of the Siege, 1941

Soviet Marines in Leningrad at the Beginning of the Siege, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#44 Exultant Leningrad, Siege Removal, Warning Sign, 1944

Exultant Leningrad, Siege Removal, Warning Sign, 1944

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#45 The Siege of Leningrad, Boris Pavlovich Kudoyarov, 1941

The Siege of Leningrad, Boris Pavlovich Kudoyarov, 1941

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#46 Leningrad Wounded

Leningrad Wounded

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The Siege of Leningrad Captured in Historic Photos Depicting the City's Resilience

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#47 Supplies for Leningrad Across Lake Ladoga, ‘Lifeline Roads’, 1942

Supplies for Leningrad Across Lake Ladoga, 'Lifeline Roads', 1942

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#48 Air Raid Shelter at Subway Station in Leningrad, State Museum of Political History, St. Petersburg

Air Raid Shelter at Subway Station in Leningrad, State Museum of Political History, St. Petersburg

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Written by Megan Di

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