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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Leningrad encirclement broken, January 18, 1943

From the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the day the Red Army first broke through the encirclement of Leningrad and established a land corridor into the besieged city.

Leningrad was, of course, under siege by Nazi forces for a staggering 872 days. It heroically resisted despite constant encirclement, bombardment and mass starvation in the first winter. It is believed that over a million citizens of the city lost their lives. It is regarded as the deadliest siege in history.

The Soviets found ways to get supplies into and people out of the city across Lake Ladoga via ice roads in winter and shipping in summer. The courage of the men and women who made these incredibly dangerous runs to keep the city alive was astonishing. Many were killed or wounded.

USSR Magazine 1963, on the 20th anniversary of the first breakthrough:

January 18, 1943. Soviet Army units broke through the 900 - day German blockade of Leningrad. The city had not surrendered in spite of hunger and continuous bombing and shelling. For the valor and heroism of its defenders Leningrad was awarded the Order of Lenin, the highest government decoration of the Soviet Union.

It would not be until January, 1944 that the siege was fully lifted.

In 1965 Leningrad was made a "Hero City" of the USSR along with Volgograd (Stalingrad), Kiev, Sevastopol, Odessa, and Moscow for the extraordinary courage, resilience and endurance of their citizens resisting against the Nazis. Brest was declared a Hero Fortress in remembrance of the way its garrison held out for many days, even when surrounded, fighting with ever declining food, water and ammunition to the very last man. In later years the list of Hero Cities would be expanded to include Kerch, Novorossiysk, Minsk, Tula, Murmansk and Smolensk.

In 1975 the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, which commemorates the victims and survivors of the Siege of Leningrad was erected in Leningrad's Victory Square.



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