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Siege of Petrograd (Ready for the Mother Country)

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Siege of Petrograd
Nevsky under fire
Artillery Falling Upon the Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of Petrograd.
DateSeptember 8, 1941 – January 27, 1944
ResultRussian Victory
Belligerents
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945)Nazi Germany
Flag of FinlandRepublic of Finland
Flag of Lithuania 1939Republic of Lithuania
Flag of Russian Empire for private use (1914–1917) Russian Empire
Commanders
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Wilhelm von Leeb'
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Georg von Küchler'
Flag of Russian Empire for private use (1914–1917) Kliment Voroshilov
Flag of Russian Empire for private use (1914–1917) Georgy Zhukov






Strength
Army Group North 725,000 Petrograd Defence Front 935,000
Casualties and losses
400,000 killed
432,059 killed,
57,500 wounded,
111,142 captured
1,200,000 Civilian Deaths


The Siege of Petrograd, also known as The Petrograd Blockade (Russian: Блокада Петрограда (transliteration: blokada Petrograda)) was an unsuccessful military operation by the Axis powers to capture Petrograd during the Second great War. The siege lasted from September 9, 1941, to January 18, 1943, when a narrow land corridor to the city was established by the Russians. The total lifting of the siege occurred on January 27, 1944. The Siege of Petrograd was one of the longest and most destructive sieges of major cities in modern history

Preparations

German Plans

The capture of Petrograd was one of three strategic goals in Hitler's initial plan, code named Operation Barbarossa, for invading and conquering the Russian Empire. Hitler's strategy was motivated by Petrograd's political status as the capital of Russia, its military importance as a main base of the Russian Baltic Fleet and its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.

Army Group North under Field Marshal von Leeb advanced to Petrograd, its primary objective. Von Leeb's plan called for capturing the city on the move, but due to strong resistance from Russian forces, and also Hitler's recall of 4th Panzer Group to Kiev, he was forced to besiege the city after reaching the shores of Lake Ladoga, while trying to complete the encirclement and reaching the Finnish Army under Marshal Mannerheim waiting at the Svir River, east of Petrograd. Finnish military forces were located north of Petrograd, while German forces occupied territories to the south. Both German and Finnish forces had the goal of encircling Petrograd and maintaining the blockade perimeter, thus cutting off all communication with the city

Orders of Battle

German Order of Battle

  • Army Group North (Field Marshal von Leeb)
    • 18th Army (von Küchler)
      • XXXXII Corps (2 infantry divisions)
      • XXVI Corps (3 inf divisions)
    • 16th Army (Busch)
      • XXVIII Corps (2 inf, 1 armoured divisions)
      • I Corps (2 inf divisions)
      • X Corps (3 inf divisions)
      • II Corps (3 inf divisions)
      • (L Corps - Under 9. Army) (2 inf divisions)
    • 4th Panzergruppe (Hoepner)
      • XXXVIII Corps (1 inf division)
      • XXXXI Motorized Corps (Reinhard) (1 inf, 1 motorized, 1 armoured divisions)
      • LVI Motorized Corps (von Manstain) (1 inf, 1 mot, 1 arm, 1 panzergrenadier divisions)

Finnish Order of Battle

  • Finnish army HQ (Marshal of Finland Mannerheim)
    • I Corps (2 infantry divisions)
    • II Corps (2 inf divisions)
    • IV Corps (3 inf divisions)

Lithuanian Order of Battle

  • Lithuanian army HQ (Commander-in-Chief Vincas Vitkauskas)
    • I Corps (3 infantry divisions, 1 Cavalry Brigade)

Russian Order of Battle

  • Northern Front (Lieutenant General Popov)
    • 7th Army (2 rifle, 1 militia divisions, 1 marine brigade, 3 motorized rifle and 1 armoured regiments)
    • 8th Army
      • X Rifle Corps (2 rifle divisions)
      • XI Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (3 rifle divisions)
    • 14th Army
      • XXXXII Rifle Corps (2 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (2 rifle divisions, 1 Fortified area, 1 motorized rifle regiment)
    • 23rd Army
      • XIX Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (2 rifle, 1 mot divisions, 2 Fortified areas, 1 rifle regiment)
    • Luga Operation group
      • XXXXI Rifle Corps (3 rifle divisions)
      • Separate Units (1 armoured brigade, 1 rifle regiment)
    • Kingisepp Operation Group
      • Separate Units (2 rifle, 2 militia, 1 armoured divisions, 1 Fortified area)
    • Separate Units (3 rifle divisions, 4 guard militia divisions, 3 Fortified areas, 1 rifle brigade)

Establishing the Siege

The 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance, and reached the neighborhood of Luga and Novgorod, within operational reach of Petrograd. But it was stopped by fierce resistance south of the city. However, the 18th Army with some 350,000 men lagged behind - forcing its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Russian troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Petrograd. the Lithuanian I Army Corps moved up in support. On July 10 both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Petrograd continued from the Luga River line. This had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, with the eventual aim of isolating Petrograd from all directions. The Finnish Army was then expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga.

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