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Reasons for Encircling Town

Germany had already suffered more than enough casualties in its quest to capture and crush Leningrad. Their numbers were dwindling, and the reinforcements were diminishing because Germany was struggling to cope with wars against other European nations on different fronts. Moreover, Hitler saw Leningrad as a city which was already doomed with no transport and communication links. He thought that such a city would not offer any resistance whatsoever because it even lacked enough food to feed its hungry citizens and soldiers. Therefore, he removed Leningrad from the top of his priority list and decided to redeploy some of his army to other areas he considered more enticing. Such areas included Moscow and Stalingrad. However, he did decide to starve residents and soldiers of Leningrad as a way of preventing any resistance. Another reason for failure to crush Leningrad was the fact that the German’s artillery bombardment of Leningrad were of “soft” nature. The Russians felt this artillery as a harassment. This is because Lufftflotte, a division tasked with bombing and bombarding Russian positions in and around Leningrad, rarely attacked the city of Leningrad. Specifically, they only exceptionally used few bombers, and on occasions when they saw it worthy to conduct heavy bombardment of the town, they used French weapons, which were obsolete, and shells which did not have the power to bring down historic landmarks and buildings of Leningrad. Moreover, the Germans deemed it to be more worthy to contaminate River Neva, which was the only fresh water supply to the city. Therefore, the vast population, which was suffering from cholera and typhus outbreak, would slowly perish within a few weeks, saving resources for German soldiers required to crush the town. As a result, they ended up encircling the town and waiting for the outcome of the catastrophe (Glantz 2001[tUser2181] ).

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The Russians were subdued, yet they continued offering some harsh resistance to the Germans, preventing them from advancing further and crushing the city of Leningrad. Leningrad’s Council of Deputies recognized the threat posed by the German armies; therefore, they organized the building of fortifications by the citizens in order to repulse any approaching enemy forces. These fortifications were later to be proven extremely helpful to the Russians as they halted the speedy German advance. Also, Russians built strong lines of defense on the outer edge of the city, and these lines were meant to halt German and Finnish progress from the south and north respectively. One of the defense lines was built from River Luga all the way to Chodovo via River Neva. These lines also passed through the Russian towns of Uritsk, Gatchina and the renowned Pulkovo region. Another defense line in the south ran from the areas of Peterhof and served the regions of Pulkovo. These lines proved to be of worth to the Russians because the Germans, whose numbers had severely diminished, found it increasingly difficult to penetrate the city of Leningrad. Instead, they opted to encircle it and severe communication and transport links to the city. They thought this would eventually weaken the determined Russians, who would eventually crumble due to diseases and hunger. To the north, the Fortified Region of Karelia which had been undeveloped since the end of the First World War was returned to service. The region consisted of anti-tank ditches, timber barricades and open trenches. These halted Finnish advance towards the town of Leningrad (Willmott, Cross, & Charles 2004).

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The siege is deemed the worst ever event to have occurred in the present day Russia and particularly Leningrad. German army looted and destroyed some of the historic landmarks that preserved the Russian heritage such as the Tsars palaces. Most of the art collections that were found in those places were also looted and transported to Germany as souvenirs. Moreover, these soldiers destroyed schools and industries. Hospitals were also severed. The aftermath was large numbers of children discontinuing from school and level of education in Leningrad dropping for very many years. They took a while to recover fully. With industries damaged, they hampered the capacity to provide basic goods and services. The results of that heavy bombardment were water shortages, damaged sewage system (thus reducing the level of hygiene), energy shortages, electricity rationing, and, worst of all, residents could not get access to hospitals and basic commodities like cooking oil. In addition, people from this town could not go to work, meaning that there was massive loss of income of the locals who depended on the industries as for employment. It is of no doubt that destruction of farming lands and food industries led to massive starvation and famine. Many people died as a result of this, creating a large number of orphans. During this period, it was reported that people turned to cannibalism to salvage their hunger. Severing of transport and communication meant that no one could move out or into the area. Hence, emergency medical situations, which required further medical attention, could not be attended. Also, this attack cut off Leningrad from the rest of the world for years, meaning that they never got updated on any occurrence outside their city. Furthermore, the supply of fresh water to the area was hampered; hence, it resulted in outbreak of diseases like cholera and typhoid. Historians and researchers estimate that a total of about one and a half million lives were lost, and another one and a half million evacuated from the region (Bezymenski%u012D 1968[tUser2182] ).

Laying siege to the place meant that people had to change their ways of life and the administrative authority had also to change their system of government. Especially, they had to seek for new transport and communication routes from which they could receive supplies and aid from the outside. The government of Russia dispatched the Eighth Army to guard and maintain the logistic route. Leningrad District PVO Corps and the Baltic Fleet provided continual air surveillance and cover over the region. Additionally, the Baltic Fleet Naval unit conducted over a hundred thousand air raids and missions to check the strength and activity of the German forces. The Red Army, on the other hand, established  means to ensure a constant supply of basic goods, drugs and food to Leningrad. These services were performed through Lake Ladoga to the south: watercrafts were used during the summer and land automobiles used over the winter, when lake was frozen. Security for the goods supplied was essential to prevent German looting. As a result, the Ladoga Flotilla and the unit of Leningrad PVO Corps were dispatched to guard the supply routes. Later on, these routes were used to evacuate civilians during the war. Eventually, the ice road, which linked Leningrad with the outside world through Lake Ladoga, became known as the Road of Life (Vehviläinen 2002[tUser2183] ).

The Russians became so hateful of the Germans that they developed some anti German sentiments. They had all the rights to fear the Germans because of their inhumane nature and the atrocities they had committed. The Germans, on the other side, had feelings of revenge towards the Russians who had attacked them over the years and during the First World War. They also developed some superiority complex and thought that the Russians were a weaker race; hence, had to be eliminated from the face of the earth (Churchill 2000).

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The Russians in an attempt to rescue their town launched various operations. The first was the Sinyavino Offensive campaign launched in August of the year nineteen forty two. This operation succeeded in making Russians redirect their armies; however, the Soviet armies were encircled and killeddestroyed by the Germans on a counter-offensive move. The second was Operation Iskra launched in January of the year nineteen forty three. This operation broke the encirclement of the city by the German armies. This operation was carried out by the Volkohov and Leningrad Fronts of the Soviet army. Moreover, it lifted some pressure of the city of Leningrad. Finally, the Russians launched the Leningrad- Novgorod Offensive in January of the year nineteen forty four. This offensive effort, aided by the Baltic Fleet, Leningrad and Volkohov Units, managed to expel the Germans and save the city (Reid 2011).

In conclusion, this siege played a pivotal role in defining the history of Leningrad. Besides, it has served as a reminder of the atrocities committed by the Germans during the Hitler rule. We should, therefore, embrace this valuable history in order to prevent the occurrence of such inhumane acts. 

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