The Siege of Leningrad – Events in History

Part of the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Editorial credit: akedesign /

The Siege of Leningrad was a Nazi Germany invasion of the Soviet Union. It took place in 1941 during World War II. Nazi Germany took over half of Europe and part of Russia. Leningrad, which is currently known as St. Petersburg, was the capital of the Russian Empire. It was the initial target of the German invasion in June 1941. Adolf Hitler, the then leader of the Nazi Party, was on a mission to take over Leningrad but realized that it could not be taken by force. Therefore, the army surrounded the city for two and a half years instead, starving millions of people to death. It has been described as the deadliest blockade in history. 

The Siege of Leningrad

German forces began their siege of Leningrad during World War II. The Siege of Leningrad was popularly known as the Leningrad Blockade. It was a long military siege championed mainly by the Nazis who invaded the Soviet Union during the summer of 1941. The German army surrounded Leningrad on September 8th. During the subsequent months, the Soviet worked hard to establish supply lines from within the Soviet Union. They needed an escape route to evacuate its citizens using the hazardous “ice and water road” across Lake Ladoga. Thousands of Leningrad inhabitants were evacuated through the east of the city. However, more than two million residents remained as German armies filled most parts of the western Soviet Union. The Germans were successfully driven off by the Red Army the following year. The siege of Leningrad lasted for 872 days ending on January 27, 1944. It led to the deaths of more than one million civilians.

The Siege Lifted

The desperate Soviets used the ice and water road across Lake Ladoga to transport supplies to its three million surrounded soldiers and civilians. They also used the lake to evacuate about one million civilians. Some other 300,000 Soviet soldiers breathed their last breath defending the city and attempting to raise the siege. In January 1944, the Red Army successes in other front sectors enabled the Soviets to lift the blockade. The German forces were so weak by this time that they enabled the Soviet troops to drive them away from the city and Soviet soil. The German forces then retreated southward from the town on January 27th. Ultimately, the Red Army regained control of the city of Leningrad. Adolf Hitler's plan of strangling the city was unsuccessful.

Outcome of the Siege

The Siege of Leningrad led to the loss of many lives and the destruction of very many landmarks. The Nazi bombing caused severe destruction of homes, hundreds of buildings, public schools, hospitals, and industrial plants. Museums and palaces in the suburbs were destroyed, vandalized and looted by the Nazis. The siege of Leningrad occurred from 1941-1945 with hunger and cold being the city's greatest enemies. Food supplies were cut resulting into cannibalism and feeding on animals such as cats, horses, and rats. Furthermore, the earth was frozen which meant that those who died could not be buried. The blockade of Leningrad became historically known as the worst famine ever among developed nations.


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