The complete deliverance of Leningrad from the blockade of the fascist German troops in January 1944 signified the end of the most ambitious and bloody battle in the course of numerous wars waged by Russia for its Northern capital. The city on the Neva, built in spite of the arrogant neighbor, “became not only a window to Europe”. He was at the forefront of the eternal confrontation between Russia and the West.
Western outpost of Russia
It seemed that even the western winds opposed the creation of the capital of a great power here. Two months after 16 of May 1703 of the year was consecrated, the creation of a new city, a powerful wind blew from the west, and the Hare Island on which construction began was flooded with Neva water. The whole forest, collected for the construction of the Peter and Paul Fortress, Neva claimed. This is how the first of the 323 floods attacked the northern capital during the 310 years of its existence. At the same time, 10 floods were especially large.
More than once the invasion of elements from the west reached the royal chambers. With dismay, a flood of 1777 from the windows of the Hermitage was seen by Catherine II. Then more than 1000 residents of the capital died. In early November, 1824, according to historian N.K. Schilder, there was a disaster, "reminded by itself, but to a more terrifying degree, the flood of the year 1777." In five hours, about 4 of thousands of houses were destroyed or damaged and, according to various estimates, died from 1 to 4 of thousands of people. Eyewitnesses recalled how Alexander I wept, looking at the consequences of the flood. A hundred years earlier, Peter I, the founder of Petersburg, fell victim to the 1724 flood of the year, when he caught a cold, rescuing drowned people, and then died.
It seemed that even the hostile nature of Russia of the West attacked the capital of the country and sought to inflict fatal blows on it.
The location of St. Petersburg made it vulnerable to attacks by Western states. Therefore, the city needed defensive works and defense lines.
For the defense of the capital, Kronstadt was built. The Nishtadt World 1721 of the year not only secured the annexation of the lands of Ingermanlandia to Russia, on which the new city was founded, but also the vast territories located to the west and northwest of St. Petersburg: Estonia, Livonia, the Karelian Isthmus and the northern coast of Lake Ladoga. For the first time in the 850 years of the existence of the Russian state, its borders moved not to the north, east and south, as it was before, but to the west.
However, now the capital remained vulnerable. Agreeing in Tilsit with Alexander I’s wish to occupy Finland, Napoleon explained the validity of Russia's claims: “St. Petersburg is too close to the Finnish border; Russian beauties in St. Petersburg should no longer hear the sound of Swedish guns from their palaces.”
By joining Finland, Alexander I tried to ensure peace in the conquered land, creating a political system there that did not exist anywhere in the Russian Empire. Finland received a constitution, its own diet, its monetary system. In a fit of complacency, the emperor even conveyed to Finland the Karelian Isthmus and the northern coast of Lake Ladoga, saying that this was being done "for the sake of rounding the Finnish state."
The love for the symmetry of Alexander I later became the cause of the 1939-1940 war, although, of course, the emperor even in a terrible dream could not imagine that Finland would become independent, with the result that the capital of Russia would be as vulnerable as before the signing of Nishtadt of the world.
During the Crimean War, the threat to St. Petersburg arose from the sea. Although the main theater of operations was the Black Sea region, England attempted to destroy the Russian Baltic Fleet. In March, 1854, off the coast of Finland, and then at Kronstadt, English warships appeared. London clubs have already toasted for taking St. Petersburg in the coming weeks. In Petersburg, as the historian E.V. Tarle, "since March, when the British squadron entered the Baltic Sea, tried not to show cowardice, there were patriotic articles in the course ... but the confusion was considerable and imperishable, and Pogodin exclaimed with excitement that fifty miles from the royal dwelling the enemy cannon is being charged ... Eminently visible in the maritime distance and in the mist the high contours of the English ships, then disappearing in the mist, then again approaching, ominously loomed before the eyes of the northern capital throughout the summer of 1854, no matter how signs of anxiety or embarrassment. "
Now the emperor was in alarm not because of the winds blowing from the west, but because of the invasion of the invaders from there. Like many other memoirists, A. Panaeva recalled "a familiar crew and familiar trotters on their long run from the seaside to the Winter Palace." In those days, many observed Nicholas I, his "straightened figure, a gloomy, darkened, haggard face under a copper helmet, still eyes and invisible eyes, and did not ask where everything went and where this man comes from almost every day, why he moved to Peterhof, where he does not move away from the telescope, why is he running so uneasily between Peterhof and the Winter Palace. "
A new threat to Petrograd arose in 1915. The capture of Poland and Kurland by the German troops made it possible for the enemy to advance to the capital of Russia. The seriousness of the threat was evidenced by the decision of Nicholas II to evacuate the country's gold reserves from Petrograd to Kazan.
The possibility of the fall of Petrograd was started after the fall of Riga in 1917. But the breakdown of the Trotsky talks in Brest and the subsequent offensive of the German troops, as a result of which they occupied the entire Baltic states, seemed to make their invasion of Petrograd a matter of a few days.
Given the increased vulnerability of the city after the German occupation of Estonia and the proclamation of independence of Finland, the Soviet government in March 1918 transferred the capital to Moscow.
In the course of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1919, Petrograd could twice become a battlefield. According to the organizer of the defense of Petrograd in May-June 1919, I.V. Stalin, the destroyers (from 5 to 12) and submarines (from 2 to 8) took part in the attack on the city, according to all data, the Anglo-Finnish ". In his conversation with the Pravda correspondent from 8 in July, Stalin mentioned “triumphant cries of the Times two months ago about the fall of Petrograd“ in two or three days. ”However, this offensive was repulsed at the distant approaches to Petrograd.
During the second offensive of General N.N. Yudenich in the fall of 1919. Trotsky, who arrived in Petrograd, developed a defense plan that included battles on the streets of the city. Later, Trotsky recalled: "The most important points were entangled with wire ... In the squares and the most important intersections, around 60 guns were installed in the covers. The canals, squares, fences and houses were strengthened. On the outskirts and along the Neva trenches were dug ... In many streets and squares barricades were arranged. " Fortunately for the northern capital and its population, Trotsky's plan was not useful, since Yudenich was stopped at Pulkovo Heights.
Anxiety for the fate of Petrograd (then Leningrad) arose whenever the relations of the Soviet country with the Western countries were exacerbated. The desire to ensure the safety of Leningrad largely determined the USSR’s foreign policy actions during the interwar period.
Since the beginning of the "Danzig crisis" in 1939, the Soviet government has been stubbornly seeking reliable guarantees from Great Britain that the Baltic states do not turn into a bridge over which German troops could be transferred to Soviet borders. According to the English historian A. Taylor, "the Russians were afraid of the German attack on Leningrad, and in view of the superiority of the German naval fleet on the Baltic Sea - this was very likely. Therefore, they wanted to strengthen their martial law on land, controlling the Baltic states. Knowing full well that these states, if pressed against the wall, would give preference to Germany rather than Russia, the Russians wanted to reinforce the position that Soviet “help” would be provided without invitation. ”However, as A. Taylor wrote,“ the British believed that the Russians were simply trying to smuggle the "imperialist" claims. This charge has since been frequently repeated. But, however, the concern of the Soviet Union regarding these states was sincere. "
Under these conditions, the USSR went to the signing of the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty, and then the friendship treaty with Germany. The condition for these treaties was the delimitation of the influence of the two countries.
The signing of mutual assistance treaties with the three Baltic states in September - October 1939 and the deployment of Soviet military bases on their territory ensured the protection of Leningrad.
In his memoirs, Marshal of the Soviet Union K.A. Meretskov wrote: "As the commander of the Leningrad District, I was responsible for the security of bases in Estonia."
And soon Meretskov had to lead the Leningrad front in the course of the Soviet-Finnish war, which began in late November 1939. Explaining the reasons for this war, during which the Red Army suffered heavy losses, I.V. Stalin 17 April 1940 said: “The war was necessary because the peace talks with Finland did not produce results, and the security of Leningrad must have been assured unconditionally, because its security is the security of our Fatherland. Not only because Leningrad represents percent 30-35 the defense industry of our country, and, therefore, the fate of our country depends on the integrity and security of Leningrad, but also because Leningrad is the second capital of our country. "
After 22 June 1941
Explaining the 30 July 1941 to the personal envoy of US President Harry Hopkins, the goals and objectives of the Soviet defense, Stalin said that about 70% of all military factories are located in areas centered on Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev. As G. Hopkins noted, from the words of Stalin he "gave the impression that if the German army could advance approximately 150 miles east of these centers, it would destroy almost 75% of Russia's industrial potential." Therefore, Stalin expressed the hope that "in the winter months, the front will be held near Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad." The fulfillment of this task was subordinated to the actions of the Red Army in the first months of the war.
The signing of a peace treaty with Finland in March 1940, as a result of which the Karelian Isthmus and the northern coast of Lake Ladoga became part of the Leningrad Region, and then the entry of the three Baltic states into the USSR in August 1940 extended the safety belt around Leningrad. Only by the end of August did Finnish troops take Vyborg and the northern shore of Lake Ladoga. The promotion of the German forces in the Baltic States required two months from them. Only at the end of August did they reach the former Soviet-Estonian border. The resistance of our sailors on the islands of the Moonsund Archipelago continued until mid-October.
For several weeks the Nazi troops were stopped at the Luga defensive line. Marshal of the Soviet Union A.M. Vasilevsky recalled that "already on distant acts to Leningrad, especially on the Luga defensive line ..., extremely violent and protracted battles took place, often without pauses, lasting for days." These fights, which began on July 10, lasted more than forty days.
The growing resistance force of the Soviet troops can be judged by the pace of the onslaught of the Nazis in Leningrad. Before 10 July, their average daily pace of movement was 26 kilometers. In July, it dropped to 5 kilometers. In August, it is up to 2,2 kilometers, and in September - up to several hundred meters per day. Nevertheless, slowly but surely, the fascist German troops were moving towards Leningrad.
Order G.K. Zhukov
Fearing for Leningrad, Stalin sent there 26 August 1941, a commission of the State Defense Committee composed of V.M. Molotov, G.M. Malenkov, Vice-Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars A.N. Kosygin, Commissar of the Navy N.G. Kuznetsov, Air Force Commander P. F. Zhigarev, Chief of Artillery of the Red Army N.N. Voronov. Meanwhile, the situation near Leningrad rapidly deteriorated. At the Mga station, members of the commission struggled to escape the bombardment, and then nearly were captured by the advanced detachments of German machine gunners, who suddenly broke through to this station.
29 August 1941 Stalin telegraphed commission members to Leningrad: “They just said that Tosno was taken by the enemy. If it continues like this, I fear Leningrad will be foolishly foolish and all Leningrad divisions are at risk of being captured. What are Popov and Voroshilov doing? (Major General MM Popov from August 23 headed the newly created Leningrad Front, and KE Voroshilov was the Commander-in-Chief of the North-Western Direction. - Note by author.) They don’t even report on what they are considering taking such a danger. They are busy the new frontiers of retreat, in this they see their task. ”
On the same day, members of the State Defense Committee informed Stalin about their decision to introduce strict rationing of food products in Leningrad, about the evacuation of the civilian population from Leningrad. It was supposed to take out of the city 250 000 women and children to 8 September. However, it is unlikely that the decree was executed at the appointed time, since even before its expiration, the advancing German units cut the railways leading to the city.
September 9 I.V. Stalin together with L.P. Beria, as well as with V.M. Molotov and G.M. Malenkov, who had already returned from Leningrad, sent a telegram there to K.E. Voroshilov and A.A. Zhdanov: "We are outraged by your behavior, which is expressed in the fact that you only tell us about our loss of a particular area, but usually you don’t say a word about what measures you have taken to stop and finally lose cities and the station. You just as ugly reported the loss of Shlisselburg. Will there be an end to the losses? Maybe you have already decided to surrender Leningrad? Tanks HF, where did you place them, and why is there no improvement at the front, despite the abundance of HF tanks you have? After all, not one front has even a half share of the number of HF that you have at the front. What is your aviationwhy she does not support the actions of our troops on the field? The help of Kulik’s divisions came up to you - how do you use this help? Can anyone hope for any improvement at the front, or will Kulik’s help be reduced to zero, how can the colossal help of KV tanks be nullified? "We demand that you inform us two to three times a day about the situation at the front and the measures you are taking."
The day before Stalin had summoned G.K. to the Kremlin. Zhukov and said to him: "Drive near Leningrad. Leningrad is in an extremely difficult situation.
The Germans, by joining Leningrad and joining the Finns, may strike the circuit from the north-east to Moscow, and then the situation will become even more complicated. "As Zhukov wrote," saying good-bye to my flight to Leningrad, the Supreme said: "Here’s a note, give Voroshilov, and the order of your appointment will be transmitted when you arrive in Leningrad. " In a note to K.E. Voroshilov said: "Transfer the command of the front to Zhukov, and immediately fly to Moscow."
Arriving in Leningrad, Zhukov found that the leadership of the city’s defense had already considered measures in case of “the inability to keep Leningrad ...
After talking with K.E. Voroshilov, A.A. Zhdanov, A.A. Kuznetsov and other members of the Military Council of the front, we decided to close the meeting and indicate that no measures should be taken in case of the surrender of the city.
We will defend Leningrad to the last man. "
September 17 was given a combat order to the troops of the Leningrad Front. In which it was said: “1. Given the particularly important in the defense of the southern part of Leningrad of the Ligovo, Kiskino, Verkh. Koyrovo, Pulkovo Heights, Area Slavyanka, Shushary, Kolpino, Military Council of Leningrad SUBJECT TO IMMEDIATE SHOT.
2. To declare the present order to command and political structure on receipt. Ordinary composition is widely explained. "
Unparalleled in the world stories blockade
By then, the advancing German units had cut the railways leading to the city. On September 8, the entourage of Leningrad was completed and the blockade of a huge city began, unparalleled in modern history in terms of the length and severity of its consequences.
Prior to this, the events of the Franco-Prussian war 1870 - 1871 served as the most terrible example of this kind. When 19 September 1870, Prussian troops blocked Paris, the city had food reserves for the month of 4.
As French historians wrote in the book “History of the XIX Century” edited by E. Laviss and A. Rambo, "November 20 ran out of beef and lamb, December 15 horsemeat ration was installed in 30 grams, January 15 rations of bread - indigestible, black, mixed with oats, barley or rice - reduced from 500 to 300 grams, and everyone knew that after January 31 the city would have absolutely nothing to eat. "
5 January 1871 appeared on the walls of Paris leaflets pasted on the walls, in which the government was accused of famine, and on January 22 an uprising of the starving occurred in the city, which was suppressed. On January 28, Paris capitulated, and soon Prussian troops marched down the main streets of the French capital.
The position of Leningrad was initially more difficult. After the enemy burned Badayev food warehouses, food supplies were extremely limited. By September 12 in Leningrad there remained for the food of its inhabitants grain and flour for 35 days, cereals and pasta for 30 days, meat for 33 days, fats for 45 days, sugar for 60 days. Therefore, from the very first days of the blockade, the decline in the norms of products sold on ration cards began. In addition, various impurities were added to the baked bread. Even grain that was flooded with the barges that had been bombed by the Germans was even launched. Divers were able to lift cargo from these barges from the bottom of Lake Ladoga and this damp grain began to be added to bread. From October 20, bread contained 63% rye flour, 4% flax meal, 4% bran, 8% oatmeal, 4% soy flour, 12% malted flour, 5% moldy flour. A few days later, when the malt flour began to dry up, other substitutes began to be used, such as appropriately processed cellulose and cotton cake.
The first reduction in food standards of Leningrad was carried out on September 2, the second on September 10, the third on October 1, the fourth on November 13, and the fifth on November 20. The daily ration of the product, which was called "bread", ranged from 125 to 250 grams. English journalist Alexander Werth noted: "Already after the fourth decline, people began to die of starvation."
According to information provided by A. Werth, in November 1941, 11 thousand people died in the city, in December - 52 thousand, in January 1942, thousands of people died daily in 3,5. For December 4 of the year and January of 1941 of the year 1942 died thousands of people
Even when food shortages were eliminated, many people continued to die due to illnesses caused by prolonged starvation. According to various estimates, during the blockade in Leningrad, from a million people died from 1 to 1,5.
D.V. Pavlov wrote in his book "Leningrad in the blockade": "Death overtook people in different positions: on the street - moving, the man fell and did not rise anymore; in the apartment - went to bed and fell asleep forever; often the machine stopped life. The transport did not work. The dead were usually driven away ... on sleds. Two or three relatives or friends were dragged by the sleigh ..., often exhausted, left the deceased halfway through, allowing the authorities to deal with the body as they please. "
Werth wrote: “The water supply and sewage systems froze in December and January; pipes that burst throughout the city exacerbated the threat of an epidemic. Water had to be carried in buckets from the Neva or taken in numerous Leningrad canals. This water was also dirty, it was not safe to drink therefore, in February, almost one and a half million people received typhoid vaccinations. "
Werth noted: “The absence of riots or food riots in Leningrad was explained by patriotism and iron discipline of the population. There were, of course, speculators, but in general the discipline was high. The moral state of the population was maintained in all sorts of ways, even in appalling conditions of famine. In theaters they went all winter performances, the roles were played by actors who nearly fainted from hunger and dressed (as well as the audience) in everything that could warm them. "
Evidence of the firmness of the spirit of Leningrad was the creation of D. Shostakovich in the besieged Leningrad of the famous Seventh Symphony. Shostakovich said: "Our dedication to fascism, our impending victory over the enemy, my hometown Leningrad, I dedicate my 7 th symphony."
Despite the harshest conditions, the people of Leningrad continued to live and work on the defense of the city. In the spring of 1942, 57 defense enterprises operated in Leningrad. During this time, they fired 99 guns, 790 machine guns, 214 thousand shells, 200 thousand mines. Shipbuilding industry workers repaired warships.
The heroic defense of Leningrad struck even the leaders of the Reich. In his diary, Goebbels wrote with admiration about the film “Fighting Leningrad”. He acknowledged that the feat of the defenders of the city has no examples in modern history.
From the very first days of the blockade, attempts were made to ensure the supply of Leningrad by water through Ladoga. However, the Germans constantly bombed barges and other ships moving to and from Leningrad. Together with them, many women and children were killed, who were evacuated from the city by water. During the first month of operation of the lake route, only 9800 tons of food were delivered to Leningrad, which was the eight-day supply rate for city residents. Then the food supply increased. From 12 September to 15 in November, 25 thousand tons of foodstuffs were delivered to Leningrad, which allowed the residents of 20 days to hold out. But 15 in November 1941, the food supply stopped due to the fact that freeze-up began on Ladoga. The supply of a multi-million city was carried out only by air.
Since the end of November 1941, attempts have been made to deliver food on the ice of Lake Ladoga. Supplying the city along the Ladoga road of life, as it was called by Leningrad, was an extremely risky business. The Germans constantly bombed it and cars went under the ice along with people and cargo. One driver, carrying loads along the Ladoga road of life during the blockade, said that he was driving a car without closing the door, and sometimes even standing on the footboard to be able to jump off the car before it goes under the icy water.
And yet, thanks to food supplies along the road of life, from the end of January 1942, the nutritional standards in Leningrad were increased - to 200 - 350 grams of "bread". At the same time, from the end of January 1942, the organized evacuation of women, children, old people and patients from Leningrad along the Ladoga road of life and air began. In 1942, a million people were taken out of Leningrad. By November 1942, the civilian population of Leningrad was only 550 thousand people.
Now some people ask the question: “Could it have been possible to surrender Leningrad and thus avoid starvation of its inhabitants?”
At the same time, they forget that the enemies of that time left no opportunity for saving the lives of those whom they considered "subhumans." A month before the attack on our country, Goering wrote in his directive of 23 of May 1941 on economic policy in the East: "Germany ... supplies only the troops located there .... The population in these areas, especially the city, is doomed on hunger. " Goering proceeded from the fact that "tens of millions of people will become superfluous in these places." After Germany attacked the USSR, this Goering program began to be implemented. Every fifth of 88 millions of Soviet people who turned out to be in the territory occupied by the enemy during the Great Patriotic War during the years of the Great Patriotic War died from starvation and the diseases caused by it.
Leningrad and its inhabitants were sentenced to total annihilation by Hitler. The transcript of the Supreme Military Command headquarters meetings near Rastenburg recorded Hitler's order, which he gave 25 September 1941 of the year to Field Marshal Manstein: "Wipe Leningrad off the face of the earth." Obviously, this order caused confusion even among German commanders, and therefore Hitler remarked at dinner the same day: “Probably, many, clutching their heads, are trying to answer the question:“ How can the Fuhrer destroy a city like St. Petersburg? ” When I feel that our race is in danger, my feelings are inferior to the coldest calculation. "
Now German documents became known, from which it followed that the military units surrounding the city had numerous orders to shoot the hungry if they tried to leave the city.
Liberation of the Northern Capital
Attempts to break the siege of Leningrad, undertaken since the end of 1941, have claimed many victims, but only in January did the 1943 of the ring break. However, the enemy did not retreat from the city and constantly bombarded it. For this purpose, two special artillery groups were created, consisting of 75 heavy batteries and 65 light artillery batteries. The enemy held 16 and 18 armies here, united into the North group. General and historian Kurt Tippelskirkh wrote: "For two years, both armies of the North group were located on a strongly fortified line that ran from Leningrad along the Volkhov River across Lake Ilmen, Staraya Russa, Kholm to Nevel." South of Pulkovo Heights and north of Novgorod were erected gun and machine gun bunkers, reinforced concrete pillboxes, anti-tank ditches, dolbybah and escarpment. The total depth of operational defense reached 230 - 260 kilometers.
The defeat of the armies of the "North" group, the complete elimination of the blockade of Leningrad and the liberation of the Leningrad Region were carried out by the troops of the Leningrad Front (Commander-in-Chief of the Army LA Govorov), the Volkhov Front (Commander-in-Chief of the Army KA Meretskov), 2 of the Baltic Front (Commander Army General MM Popov).
It was an extremely difficult operation, during which the troops had to go off-road, overcoming wooded and swampy areas and many rivers. Difficult to attack and began at that time an unexpected thaw.
Soldiers and officers showed exceptional dedication. In the battles for the town of Sokuli, senior sergeant I.K. Skuridin repeated the feat of Alexander Matrosov.
19 January, our troops captured Red Sela and Ropsha. German troops were driven back from Leningrad to 25 kilometers. 20 January was released Novgorod. By January 30 were released Pushkin, Gatchina.
Based on the fact that the defense of Leningrad could not be considered fully secured without driving out enemies from Estonia, Stalin set the task for the advancing troops: February 17 to seize Narva. However, our troops failed to take Narva, as the city was turned into a powerful center of resistance. By that time, for more than a month and a half, our troops were engaged in continuous intense offensive battles. They experienced an acute shortage of ammunition and suffered significant losses in manpower and equipment. At the direction of the Stavka, the Leningrad and 2 Baltic Front fronts of March 1 defended and began to prepare new operations.
Summing up the military operations of the Red Army in 1944 year, I.V. Stalin called the complete lifting of the blockade of Leningrad the first of a series of "crushing blows by our troops against German troops." Stalin stated: "The Red Army broke into the long-term defense of the Germans and threw them back into the Baltic. The result of this blow was the liberation of the Leningrad Region."
So began the year of the ten Stalinist strikes, the year of the continuous offensive of the Soviet troops, bringing the Victory over the enemy closer.