During World War II, Nazi armies encircled the city of Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was then called) for nearly three years.
Residents were terrorized by frequent bombing, and the siege restricted the flow of food supplies into the city.
Although bombardment was a certainty almost daily, for the people of Leningrad, the real enemy was something much more primal: hunger.
German scientists predicted Leningrad would practically eat itself within weeks of isolation.
There were indeed many cases of cannibalism during the siege, but ultimately Leningrad survived the ordeal after 872 days, albeit at a horrible cost.
More than a million Red Army soldiers were killed, captured, or missing during the German blockade. Over a million more civilians also lost their lives in just under three years.
Official historical records and the discovery of unpublished diaries have both given an extraordinary insight into the Siege of Leningrad as one of the most brutal military blockades in history.
10 Operation Barbarossa
Capturing the city of Leningrad as part of Operation Barbarossa (German invasion of Soviet Union).
Leningrad had all the right things to make itself a desirable target: the city was an industrial powerhouse with numerous arms factories, the former capital of Russia, and a symbol of the Russian Revolution.
Nazi Germany, under the command of Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, had help from the Finnish forces under Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim.
Both anticipated a relatively easy campaign to secure Leningrad. The Finnish also expected to recover territory they had recently lost in the Winter War.
9 Leningrad Fortified Region
Soviet leaders were aware of the plan and appropriately issued orders to fortify the city of Leningrad. Even civilians took part in building lines of defenses such as barricades and anti-tank ditches.
The Germans never occupied Leningrad, but it probably wasn’t because of the fortifications.
On July 10, 1941, the Germans captured Ostrov and Pskov while forcing the Soviet troops to retreat toward Leningrad. Germans resumed the advance and, along the way, severed transportation lines into the city.
The eventual aim was to hold siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, effectively isolating Leningrad from all directions.