This week in the War, 8–14 September 1941: The siege of Leningrad
Inspirational posters outside Kazan Cathedral in Leningrad, 1941 [RIA Novosti archive, image #637354 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC-BY-SA 3.0]
The siege of Leningrad began this week in the war on 8 September 1941, when the Finns cut off the last remaining land route to the city by severing the Leningrad-Murmansk rail line. The situation was desperate by 11 September, with no lighting or heat, and food supplies fast diminishing. The Russian commanding general, Kliment Voroshilov, was dismissed and went to the front line to seek a hero’s death. He was replaced by Georgi Zhukov. German troops were ordered to shoot down anyone fleeing the city towards their lines. Hitler did not want to take Leningrad by storm. He intended to starve the city into submission.
Leningrad: State of Siege —– by Michael Jones (Murray, 2008) [Photograph by Edith-Mary Smith]
In his book Leningrad—State of Siege
, Michael Jones details the resilience and the suffering of the citizens of the city, of people eating books and belts (and sometimes other people), and of the cultural triumphs during the days of siege, such as the concert in the Leningrad Philharmonic Hall performed to a house packed with starving citizens and soldiers in uniform who had come directly from the front.
The siege lasted 872 days and was finally lifted on 27 January 1944. More than a million people died.