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 History Illustrated history of St. Petersburg: Page 18 


World War II and the 900-day Siege of Leningrad

This was certainly the most tragic period in the history of this city. It was full of suffering and heroism. For everyone who lives in St. Petersburg, the blockade (siege) of Leningrad is an important part of their heritage, and for the older generation it brings out memories that they will never forget. Less than two and a half months after June 22, 1941, when the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked and on September 8, 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and the siege began. It lasted for about 900 days, from September 8, 1941 till January 27, 1944.


Two million 887 thousand civilians (including about 400 thousand children) plus troops didn't even consider any calls for surrender. Food and fuel supplies were very limited (enough for 1 or 2 months only). All public transportation has stopped. By the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942, in the middle of an unusually cold winter, the lowest food rations in the city were only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per day. In just two months, January and February, 1942, 200 thousand people (!!!) died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. But a portion of the war industry continued to work and the city did not surrender. Several hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city across Lake Ladoga via the famous "Road of Life" ("Doroga zhizni") - the only route that connected the besieged city with the mainland.

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