Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive
Red Army liberates the besieged city of Leningrad
author Paul Boșcu, December 2016
The Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive was a strategic offensive during World War II which led to the lifting of the almost 900-day siege of Leningrad. After the bloodiest siege in human history, lasting almost 900 days, during which more than 1.1 million people died, Leningrad was finally liberated. Novgorod fell two days later as the Germans recoiled rapidly.

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The Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive was a strategic offensive during World War II. It was launched by the Red Army’s Volkhov, Leningrad and 2nd Baltic Fronts against the Wehrmacht’s Army Group North. The offensive led to the lifting of the almost 900-day siege of Leningrad. After the siege, the offensive ended with the Leningrad Front’s push across the Narva river, which the Germans managed to stop.

General L. A. Govorov’s Leningrad Front and General Kirill A. Meretzkov’s Volkhov Front took advantage of the freezing weather to cross the Gulf of Finland with its iced-up lakes and swamps and attack the German 18th Army on both flanks.

In 47 days of fighting, the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts advanced 300 km and shattered the previously impregnable defences of Army Group North. The siege of Leningrad, after 880 days, was over. However, the agony of Leningrad's defenders was not. At the end of the war, Stalin proclaimed Leningrad as one of five 'Hero Cities' and promised to rebuild the city promptly. In fact, reconstruction efforts lagged for years.

After the bloodiest siege in human history, lasting almost 900 days, during which 150,000 shells and 100,000 bombs fell on the city and more than 1.1 million people died, Leningrad was finally liberated. Novgorod fell two days later as the Germans recoiled rapidly

Stalin was embarrassed by the true scale of Soviet casualties at Leningrad and ordered blanket silence concerning details about the siege. Rather than honoring Soviet suffering and heroism on the Leningrad front, Stalin sought to conceal it. Furthermore, Stalin was suspicious of Zhdanov and his Leningrad clique and conducted his final purge in 1950. This purge resulted in the arrest and execution of many of those who had organized the defence of the city during Operation Barbarossa.

Hitler had intended to demolish Leningrad as both a symbol and a center of Soviet power, but he accomplished neither. Thus in strategic terms, the German effort against Leningrad was a failure. Yet in operational terms, the German siege of Leningrad effectively isolated three Soviet armies for over two years. It also forced six other armies to conduct repeated costly frontal assaults to try and end the siege. At the start of the final offensive, the Red Army had to mass the equivalent of over 60 divisions in the Leningrad-Volkhov area in order to dislodge 20 German divisions. And the Soviets still failed to encircle and destroy a single one of the German divisions.

Soviet leaders learned quickly at Leningrad, and their effectiveness increased over the course of the siege. Yet even during the successful offensive, the Soviets still suffered a 40% casualty rate and lost 7.5 men for every German killed or captured. Indeed, the Soviet ability to rapidly regenerate combat power was critical to their eventual success, particularly in the rapid rebuilding of the 2nd Shock Army. Once Generals Meretskov and Govorov learned from their earlier failures and were given the time and resources to prepare powerful set-piece offensives, the days of the siege were numbered.

In less than three weeks of fighting, the Soviet forces had driven the Germans 100 km south and southwest of Leningrad and 80 km west of Novgorod. Plus the Germans had been cleared from the main railroad line between Leningrad and Moscow. Leningrad had suffered enormously from the blockade and during its battle of defense. More than one thousand factory buildings and almost ten thousand apartment buildings were destroyed or severely damaged due to enemy shelling and aerial bombardments.

When General Georg von Kuchler withdrew Army Group North from its forward positions, Hitler replaced him with Walter Model. Model managed to persuade the Führer that a ‘Schild und Schwert’ (shield and sword) strategy should allow minor withdrawals as part of a larger, planned counter-offensive. The Germans constructed a series of fortifications in the region called the Panther line. In the meantime, the Red Army had reached a line from Narva to Pskov to Polotsk.

Model was able to persuade Hitler of certain things, such as the withdrawal, that other generals could not, because the Führer admired him and was utterly convinced of his loyalty. He argued with Hitler to his face, but only on matters of military policy. Model would not allow any criticism of Hitler at his HQ. Because he led from the front, constantly being seen in the front line, Model was popular with the troops in the way that a number of other German château-generals were not.

The two weak Luftwaffe field divisions were reinforced with two infantry battalions from the reliable 170th Infanterie-Division, two assault gun batteries, two Panzerjager batteries and plenty of flak guns. The OKH also sent Panther Detachment ‘Maeckert’ to provide additional anti-tank defences around Oranienbaum. These Panthers had defective engines and were only semi-mobile. Steiner used these additional forces to conduct several spoiling attacks, but they were too weak to disrupt the upcoming Soviet offensive.

Hitler set a problem for OKH planners which threw light on the severe manpower problems that Germany was facing by then. Between the outbreak of war and late 1943, the standard German infantry division consisted of three regiments totalling nine rifle battalions. Each regiment had twelve rifle and heavy-weapons companies and a howitzer and anti-tank company, and the division itself also had a separate anti-tank and reconnaissance battalion, which brought the average division size up to 17,000 men.

Before the Soviet offensive, divisions were reorganized to comprise three regiments of only two battalions each, bringing the average size down to 13,656 men. Three months later, Hitler was forced to ask how divisions could be cut back to 11,000 men each, without affecting firepower and overall combat strength. The planners considered that this was impossible, and put forward a compromise solution of divisions of 12,769 in size. With Germany simply running out of soldiers by January 1944, while divisions still had to hold their sections of many miles of crumbling fronts, such demoralizing reorganizations were a potent foretaste of her coming disaster.

Unlike the rest of the Wehrmacht fighting on the Eastern Front, the Army Group North had succeeding in fighting previous Soviet offensives to a standstill. However, Army Group’s North defensive prowess led to the OKH transferring several of its veteran infantry divisions to other more threatened sectors and replacing them with low-quality Luftwaffe field divisions. With most of its armor, air support and veteran infantry gone, the Army Group was gradually transformed into a static defence formation. In the meantime Soviet capabilities in the region were expanding with a new infusion of reinforcements.

General Georg Lindemann's 18th Army had 20 divisions in six corps. It defended a front stretching from the Oranienbaum bridgehead, to the south side of Leningrad and then southwards to Novgorod. Although Lindemann had developed deep defences, it was a very wide front for his troops to hold. SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner's 3rd SS-Panzerkorps, consisting of the 9th and 10th Luftwaffe Field Divisions on the right and the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division ‘Nordland’ and the 4th SS Panzergrenadier Brigade ‘Nederland’ on the left, took over the Oranienbaum sector.

The ‘Nordland’ Division was a relatively strong formation, but its Panzer battalion was not yet operational since the Panther tanks it had been issued were defective. Instead, the division had a battalion with 25 StuG III assault guns while the ‘Nederland’ Division had seven more.

In response to directions from the OKH and Hitler, Army Group North began construction of a defensive line, called the Panther position. But unlike Manstein’s desperate efforts in the south, Army Group North was under no pressure and hence could undertake major engineering work on the line. German engineers, helped by thousands of slave laborers, built 800 concrete bunkers and over 5,000 field bunkers. They laid 200 km of barbed wire, and dug vast trench systems and anti-tank ditches.

The German Panther defensive line stretched from the Baltic up the Narva River and along the western shores of Lakes Peipus and Pskov, and then into the swamps south of Pskov. Besides the advantage to the Germans of falling back to a carefully prepared position with which the Soviets were unfamiliar, the new line was 25 percent shorter than the old line and would free up substantial numbers of troops.

The OKH began redeploying units from the north to help in the south. At that time, the army group commander, Field Marshal Georg von Kuechler, actually persuaded Hitler to authorize a retreat to the Panther position. Unfortunately for the Germans, the Eighteenth Army commander, Generaloberst Georg Lindemann, reported to Hitler that his corps and division commanders believed they could hold their present positions. That was enough for Hitler, and Army Group North, including the 18th Army, remained in place.

The total length of the Panther Line was 425 km, of which 215 km lay across land and 210 km across water. The Panther Line included tank obstacles, wire entanglements, emplacements for machine guns and anti-tank guns, concrete shelters, steel shelters, roads and road bridges. Most of the construction was done by the 30,000 workers recruited from the Soviet civilian population in the area and by 17,000 German soldiers and 7,000 German civilians who were brought to the area. The building materials used to construct the fortifications were transported to the defense line in railroad cars and on boats.

In addition, the Germans constructed a series of intermediate defense lines within the Leningrad region. The intermediate lines would permit the German forces to withdraw westward to the Panther Line in an orderly fashion. The most important of these intermediate lines was the Luga Line, extending along the Luga River and southwards to Novgorod.

If a withdrawal to the Panther Line should become necessary, it would create a serious dilemma for the Germans. There were approximately 900,000 Soviet civilians living in the area between the southern outskirts of Leningrad and the Panther Line. It was believed by General Field Marshal Georg von Kuchler that as his troops retreated westward to the Panther Line, the Soviet commanders would conscript thousands of civilians living in the area. Faced with this dilemma, the Germans began to evacuate a large percentage of the civilian population who inhabited the areas occupied by the Germans. Many villagers were transported to the Baltic States.

According to their operational plan, the forces of the Volkhov Front were to carry out two major offensives. The forces to the south were to liberate Novgorod. One group was to approach Novgorod from the north and another was to approach the city by crossing the northern point of Lake Ilmen south of Novgorod. The two groups were to converge west of Novgorod and capture the encircled enemy forces. General Leonid Govorov’s Leningrad Front was to conduct two concentric assaults, one from Leningrad and the other from the Oranienbaum bridgehead, and to encircle the enemy forces. Subsequently, they were to advance toward Narva and Pskov.

Govorov's plan directed the 2nd Shock Army to attack out of the Oranienbaum bridgehead and link up with General-Colonel Ivan Maslennikov's 42nd Army. This army would attack westward out of Leningrad towards Krasnoye Selo. Govorov hoped that this surprise attack would cause Kuchler to shift his scant reserves to that sector, thereby weakening his forces on the Volkhov. Meretskov would then attack with the 8th, 54th and 59th Armies, to smash the weakened right flank of the German 18th Army.

Given a substantial edge in artillery, tanks and air support, Govorov and Meretskov expected a fairly quick German collapse followed by a full-bore pursuit to the Panther Line. For the first time, Govorov also coordinated with the increasingly effective partisan units operating in the German rear areas, hoping to disrupt German supply lines at the critical moment. The operation required Army General Govorov, commander of the Leningrad Front, to transfer tanks, artillery guns, tons of ammunition and one of his armies under cover of night to Oranienbaum, the Soviet bridgehead located west of Leningrad on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland.

For the first time, the Soviets sought operational surprise, instead of just launching another offensive. They intended to launch the main effort from Oranienbaum, which had been a quiet sector for over two years. The Soviets started transferring the rebuilt 2nd Shock Army, now under General Ivan Fediuninskiy, from Leningrad to Oranienbaum. Fediuninskiy had five rifle divisions, 13 artillery regiments and three tank units massed in the Oranienbaum bridgehead.

General Kiril Meretskov’s forces to the north, stationed just east of Tosno, Liuban and Chudovo, were to drive the German forces from those three towns and continue westward toward Luga. In preparation for the operation, the Soviet High Command supplied both fronts with reinforcements and military hardware. In the end the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts combined had more than 1,200,000 officers and men. The soldiers of the two fronts and the soldiers at the Oranienbaum bridgehead were provided with more than 21,000 guns, over 1,400 tanks and self propelled guns, 600 anti-aircraft guns, 1,500 rocket guns and 1,500 airplanes.

Leningrad had a new front commander, a tall, reserved man who was not well known to the subordinate Leningrad commanders. He was Lieutenant General Leonid Aleksandrovich Govorov, an artillery officer. In preparation for the offensive, many new generals were appointed in the area. The late winter and early spring had turned the Leningrad Command into a comfortable, cosy group.

Most of the time, the chief, Lieutenant General M. S. Khozin, was away across Ladoga Lake, where the fighting continued, one grueling week after another. In Leningrad remained the newly promoted General Bychevsky, the fortifications specialist, General G. F. Odintsov, the new artillery chief, General S. D. Rybalchenko, a new air commander and General A. B. Gvozdkov, operations officer. Major General D. N. Gusev, Khozin’s deputy, ran the front. He was a pleasant officer with an open-door policy. He got on well with the generals and equally well with Party Secretary Zhdanov, who made most of the decisions.

Govorov was an experienced officer. His military service began in the Tsar’s army, where he was enrolled in the Konstantinovsky Artillery School. He was impressed into Admiral Kolchak’s White Russian Army but managed to desert with his battery and make his way to Tomsk, where he entered the Red Army. He rose steadily in the Red Army but was caught up in the Stalin purges. His brief forced service with Kolchak was brought up against him, and he was removed from the General Staff Academy where he was a student. It was only the intervention of Marshal Timoshenko and Soviet President Mikhail Kalinin that saved him from exile or execution.

Although Govorov’s name was little known in Leningrad, he had distinguished himself as one of Marshal Zhukov’s right-hand men during the Battle of Moscow as commander of the Fifth Army. He was inspecting the front lines of his Fifth Army sector near the Mozhaisk highway one early morning when a call came from staff headquarters. He was wanted by 8 P.M. in Moscow. At Stavka he was told Stalin wanted to see him. His new assignment was Leningrad and, as always, there was a rush. Stalin ordered him to fly to Leningrad the next day.

The generals and the Party secretaries, Andrei Zhdanov, Kuznetsov and Shtykov usually ate together at a common mess. They started each meal with a shot of ‘sauce’ made from pine needles to ward off scurvy. Any time one of them returned from across Ladoga he brought a bunch of garlic which he shared around, for the same purpose.

When word came in early April that General Govorov was being named to command Leningrad, no one knew him except Odintsov, who had taken courses under him in the Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy before the war. Odintsov could say little except that Govorov’s character was in direct opposition to his name. Govorov stems from the word ‘govoryat —to talk. ‘Not even two words did he ever squeeze out,’ Odintsov said. ‘And no one has ever seen him smile.’ About the only other thing that was known was that he was not a member of the Communist Party.

Govorov was no stranger to Leningrad. He had gone there after finishing grade school to enter the Petrograd Polytechnic Institute. A few months later he was called to duty in the Tsar’s army. He thought of those times as he flew north to take over his new post. He knew that he had been picked for Leningrad because he was an artilleryman and only artillery (he believed) could protect the city so long as it was under siege.

From his first day in Leningrad, Govorov turned his attention to artillery. Party Secretary Zhdanov had consulted the Leningrad Artillery Chief, General Odintsov, about transforming the Leningrad batteries from a defensive to an offensive basis. Odintsov explained it was a matter of more guns, more planes to spot artillery fire, and many more shells. If they were to exterminate 10 to 12 batteries a month, it would take 15,000 shells a month. Now they were using 800 to 1,000. With Govorov’s support, two air observation units were brought in and the shell quota was upped to 5,000 a month.

The Red Army launched a major attack from the Oranienbaum pocket, south from Leningrad itself, followed soon after by an attack near Novgorod. This was a far more ambitious project than the prior relief attempts. Neither replacing Army Group Commander Kuechler temporarily with Model, nor subsequently having Georg Lindemann take over when Model was sent south, made much difference. The Germans fought skillfully and fiercely, while the Soviet leadership was not as sure as in the south, but the German army was forced to retreat to the Panther line position.

During the period after the end of the Soviet winter offensive in April 1942, Army Group North had suffered few of the travails that had marked the terrible fighting on the Eastern Front farther in the south. The Soviets launched a number of attacks over the course of 1942 and 1943, but they achieved minimal success.

The Soviets struck, this time with better prepared and stronger forces, while the Germans had already lost three divisions. The Soviets possessed the equivalent of over 60 divisions, against 20 German divisions. They also possessed a six-to-one advantage in tanks. The Leningrad Front immediately placed great pressure on German forces still close to the city, while on 18th Army’s right the Volkhov Front threatened Novgorod. As the enemy retreated westward, they left behind the numerous artillery pieces with which they had bombarded Leningrad.

The 2nd Shock Army began a 65-minute artillery preparation against the the 9th and 10th Luftwaffe Field Divisions on the eastern side of the Oranienbaum bridgehead. Thirteen army artillery regiments were joined by heavy railway guns and the battleships October Revolution and Marat, and together they fired at the hapless Luftwaffe troops. Then, the 43rd and 122nd Rifle Corps attacked the boundary between the two Luftwaffe divisions with five rifle divisions and two tank brigades. This was one of the best set-piece Soviet operations of the entire siege and yet the assault troops succeeded in advancing only three to four kilometres before nightfall.

Just before the attack, Felix Steiner sent part of Nordland's pioneer battalion to strengthen the Luftwaffe-held sector. These stalwart troops fought a desperate delaying action that slowed down the Soviet steamroller. Nevertheless, both Luftwaffe divisions were badly hurt. As darkness fell, Ivan Fediuninskiy committed the 152nd Tank Brigade and two tank regiments, which advanced four more kilometres during the night. Steiner sent Nordland's reconnaissance battalion and one Panzergrenadier battalion to establish blocking positions on the west side of the Soviet penetration but they failed to deflect Fediuninskiy from his real objective: Ropsha.

One of the Luftwaffe field divisions—created from surplus air force personnel whom Hitler and Göring had refused to turn over to the army—collapsed on the second day of the Soviet attack. Within four days the situation in front of Leningrad had become desperate for the 18th Army. At Novgorod, Hitler authorized a retreat at the last moment, and most of the troops escaped.

At the Oranienbaum bridgehead, the Soviet forces commanded by Lieutenant General Ivan Fedyuninsky launched their attack against the enemy. The attack was launched in the area around Gostilitzi, 22 km southwest of Petergof. Simultaneously, the forces of the Leningrad Front commanded by Govorov began an attack along their entire front. After fierce fighting, Govorov’s forces captured Krasnoe Selo, then Pushkin, Pavlovsk and Gatchina. Elsewhere, Meretskov’s forces stationed in the northeast launched their offensive and captured Tosno, Lyuban and Chudovo.

The Soviet troops entered Pushkin, 24 km from Leningrad. The façade of the great Catherine Palace was intact. But inside, the building was a ruin. The great hall was gone. So was the amber room. The amber had vanished, along with the parquet floor of amaranth, rosewood and mahogany. The Zubovsky wing had been turned into a barracks. A bomb had been placed under the great Cameron Gallery. Fortunately, it had not gone off.

While Ivan Fediuninskiy was clawing his way through the 3rd SS-Panzerkorps' lines, the 42nd Army used its 18th and 23rd breakthrough artillery divisions to reduce the German defences with a fierce artillery bombardment. These two formations fired a concentrated barrage on a 15 km-wide sector. After the German front-line positions were thoroughly pulverized, the 42nd Army attacked with nine rifle divisions from the 30th Guard, 109th and 110th Rifle Corps. Ivan Maslennikov's objective was to capture Krasnoye Selo, then Ropsha.

Nikolai Simoniak's 30th Guards Rifle Corps, transferred from the Siniavino sector, made the main effort. Simoniak's three guards rifle divisions attacked the 170th Infanterie-Division on the Pulkovo Heights. The Russians succeeded in advancing three to four kilometres on the first day. But German counterfire soon reduced the Soviet advance to the usual crawl.

Lindemann committed his only reserve, the 61st Infanterie-Division, to plug the gap caused by the disintegration of the 10th Luftwaffe Field Division and to hold Ropsha. He also ordered Steiner to counterattack into the flank of the Soviet penetration with ‘Nordland’. These German efforts briefly slowed 2nd Shock Army but General Fediuninskiy committed a mobile group of tanks, motorized infantry and self-propelled artillery under Colonel Andrei Oskotsky. This force pushed through the flimsy German line.

Maslennikov also committed his armor, and the two Soviet pincers began to close inexorably on the German troops holding the area around the Peterhof and Uritsk. The 42nd Army captured the Dudergof Heights, just outside Krasnoye Selo. Kuchler wanted to gain additional reserves, but Hitler refused because he feared it would precipitate a general withdrawal to the Panther Line.

The OKH belatedly sent reinforcements but Soviet partisans succeeded in disrupting railway lines north of Pskov at the critical moment, impeding the German response. Colonel Aron Oskotsky's tanks scored a clean breakthrough and troops from the 2nd Shock Army and the 42nd Army linked up near Ropsha. The 126th Infanterie-Division was now isolated, but many German troops were able to escape southwards through the sparse Soviet lines during the night, though without their heavy equipment.

Much of the German artillery that had been shelling Leningrad for over two years was abandoned in the woods near the Peterhof. After six days of fighting, the Leningrad Front had restored ground communications with the Oranienbaum bridgehead and had unhinged the left wing of the 18th Army’s main defence line.

In the Novgorod region, Kiril Meretskov’s forces initiated a two-pronged attack toward Novgorod. A Soviet mobile group daringly crossed the ice of Lake Ilmen and established a bridgehead south of Novgorod, which greatly unnerved Kurt Herzog. The 38th Corps was the weakest formation of the 18th Army, consisting of only the depleted 28th Jager-Division, the inexperienced 1st Luftwaffe Field Division and the 2nd Lettische SS Freiwilligen Brigade. The Soviet attack smashed the German lines and liberated Novgorod.

While Govorov was tearing open the German left flank, Meretskov went to work on the German right flank. General-Lieutenant Ivan Korovnikov's 59th Army was assigned to attack General Kurt Herzog's 38th Corps on the same sector of the Volkhov south of Chudovo where the 2nd Shock Army had failed 2 years earlier. However, the situation was far different two years on, since the Germans were much weaker and the Soviets more experienced. After another massive artillery bombardment, Korovnikov attacked with six rifle divisions in his first echelon.

Forced to divert forces to deal with the incursion across Lake Ilmen and with its thinly manned front pounded by massed artillery, the 38th Corps began to fall apart. Part of the stalwart 28th Jager-Division was overwhelmed, with the remainder retreating into Novgorod. Confronted with a 20 km-wide gap in his front around Lyuban, Lindemann began shifting further units south. Meretskov ordered the 54th Army to conduct fixing attacks on the Germans that succeeded in preventing any further reinforcements being sent to restore the German line near Novgorod.

The remnants of the 28th Jager-Division and the 1st Luftwaffe Field Division were far too weak to hold the city. Once Soviet pincers were about to envelop Novgorod from both sides, Georg Lindemann promptly asked the OKH for permission to abandon the city. Hitler reluctantly agreed. Although the 38th Corps troops temporarily escaped, many were lost in the Soviet pursuit over the next few days.

The Soviet 59th Army entered the deserted city of Novgorod. With his left and right flanks in tatters and the Soviet advance gathering steam, it was clear to Lindemann that the siege of Leningrad was over. The 18th Army was no longer capable of holding its remaining positions near Leningrad, and retreat was now inevitable. The fighting was fierce and the casualties were high on both sides, but Meretskov’s forces pushed forward. Before Novgorod was encircled, the Germans evacuated the city and withdrew westward to the Panther Line.

When the Soviet forces entered Novgorod on the twentieth of January, they discovered that more than half of the city’s buildings had been destroyed. Less than one hundred of its inhabitants were in the city. Most of the other civilians had been transported to Germany to work in labor camps.

In the north, Soviet spearheads reached the Tsar’s former summer residence at Krasnoye Selo and cut off two German divisions. Georg von Kuechler desperately pleaded for permission to retreat to the Panther Line, even though the considerable losses he had already suffered would leave him barely enough men to hold the line. Hitler again refused to authorize a retreat, this time claiming that a retreat would open up a straight road to the Panther Line for the Soviets and all their forces. The German troops were to fight where they stood in order to inflict heavy casualties on Soviet forces. The Russians attacked in force, and after almost 900 days Leningrad was freed.

After the success of the initial breakthrough attacks, Govorov and Meretskov turned to the task of defeating the 18th Army by means of envelopment. Maslennikov's 42nd Army was ordered to push south towards Krasnogvardeisk and Pushkin, while Fediuninskiy's 2nd Shock Army advanced south-west towards Kingisep. Korovnikov's 59th Army continued to advance westwards towards Luga, but was slowed more by the swampy terrain than the Germans. The Soviet 67th and 54th Armies also joined in the general offensive, trying to pin the German forces around Mga and Lyuban.

Georg von Kuchler realized that the 18th Army could no longer hold a continuous front. He asked Hitler for permission to begin tactical withdrawals to shorten his line and gain reserves, but was refused. Without permission, Lindemann abandoned the positions near Siniavino, freeing up one division that was sent to block the 42nd Army advance, but it was too late.

The Soviets had taken Krasnogvardeysk, thus compromising much of the 18th Army’s supply situation. With Lindemann’s army now broken into three pieces, Hitler finally allowed a retreat to the Luga River. But even then he demanded that the 18th Army restore its contact with the 16th Army and close off all Soviet penetrations. The Soviet pursuit after their great victory near Leningrad failed to destroy any major German units or capture large numbers of prisoners.

Hitler dismissed Kuechler and assigned Walter Model to restore the deteriorating situation. Model set the tone of his command with the message that no one would authorize a retreat at any level of command without his direct permission. The 18th Army had suffered terrible losses. Nearly 58,000 combat infantrymen had been on its rolls at the beginning of the month. But that number had fallen to an infantry strength of 17,000 even with the reinforcements that reached the army in the intervening period.

General Govorov, Andrei Zhdanov and other members of the Military Council of the Leningrad Front made a long hoped-for announcement that was broadcast over the city’s loud-speakers: ‘Comrade Red Army men, sergeants and officers of the Leningrad Front! Sailors of the Baltic Fleet! The working people of Leningrad! In the course of twelve days of heavy fighting the troops of the Leningrad Front broke through and surmounted the strong, deeply echeloned enemy defenses along the whole length of the front at Leningrad, took by storm the most important enemy resistance centers and strong points outside Leningrad, including the towns of Krasnoye Selo, Ropsha, Uritsk, Pushkin, Pavlosvsk, Mga, Ulyanovsk and Gatchina... As a result of the battles a historically important task has been accomplished—Leningrad has been completely liberated from enemy blockade and from the barbaric shelling. To mark this victory and the complete liberation of Leningrad from enemy blockade today, January 27, at 20:00 hours the city of Leningrad will salute the valiant troops of the Leningrad Front with twenty-four volleys of 324 guns... Glory to the fighting men of the Leningrad Front! Glory to the working people o

Over the sword point of the Admiralty, over the great dome of St. Isaac’s, over the broad expanse of Palace Square, over the broken buildings of Pulkovo, the dilapidated machine shops of the Kirov works, the battered battleships still standing in the Neva, roared a shower of golden arrows, a flaming stream of red, white and blue rockets. It was a salute from 324 cannon marking the liberation of Leningrad, the end of the blockade, the victory of the armies of Generals Govorov and Meretskov. After 880 days the siege of Leningrad, the longest ever endured by a modern city, had come to an end.

Following a gun salute, a female worker from a local factory spoke on the radio broadcast. She expressed the people’s gratitude to the soldiers of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts and to the sailors of the Soviet Baltic Fleet: ‘Dear brothers, fathers and fighting men! I am addressing these warm words of greeting and profound gratitude to you on behalf of the people of Leningrad. It was in honor of your heroic feats that the artillery salute was fired today. It was victory over Hitler’s beasts that Leningrad celebrated. And it was not the bursts of enemy shells, but the victorious salute of our own guns that Leningrad heard today. Today it is bright and festive in our streets. And this is all due to you, our dear fighting men. The children of this great city are blessing you. Smash the bloodthirsty Nazis, drive them farther to the west, don’t let them leave the soil of Leningrad alive. Tomorrow we will get down with new strength to the joyous work of restoring our city. Glory to our valiant fighting men!’

The German position in the north remained tenuous. General Walter Model suggested risky offensive operations to restore the 18th Army’s situation along the Luga. Hitler, however, turned uncharacteristically cautious and favored a complete withdrawal to the Panther Line. His motivation was undoubtedly the worsening situation in the Ukraine. He was more disposed than usual to free up troops and divisions that might take the pressure off Army Group South.

The Soviet commanders, once their forces had blasted the Germans out of their initial positions, displayed none of the operational effectiveness that Vatutin, Konev, and Zhukov demonstrated in the south. As a result, the Germans were gradually able to pull back to the Panther Line.

Model attempted to form ‘hedgehogs’ (defensive positions) around Narva and Luga and to launch small counterattacks to stem the Soviet tide, but he succeeded only in delaying the inevitable. Oberst Wengler's regiment succeeded in stopping the Soviet spearheads outside Narva, but Luga fell.

Unable to maintain positions on the Luga River, Model finally began a general withdrawal to the Panther Line. By the time the Soviet forces reached the Panther Line, they were too depleted from weeks of fighting and were unable to penetrate the German defences. Once again, Meretskov began the laborious process of bringing up his artillery and rebuilding depleted rifle units. Army Group North had gained a respite, but not a reprieve.

By the beginning of March the Germans were largely in the Panther line position. Soviet efforts to break through came to nothing, as an early spring thaw severely affected movement. Once again German forces had survived, but at an exorbitant cost. Had Hitler taken Kuechler’s advice in early January, the Germans could have pulled back in good order and saved substantial reserves for use in the south.

The German units which arrived at the Panther line had been badly battered in the interim while the Red Army had won another major victory. Leningrad was really and truly freed. Furthermore, although an early spring thaw halted the Red Army as much as the Germans at the Panther line, the Russians had already bounced the Narva river line in their advance and held a small but significant foothold across that river.

The Red Army managed to lift the siege with heavy casualties. Despite the almost 900 day-long siege, the Germans did not manage to break the back of the Soviet defenders of the city. The Soviets managed to supply the city across Lake Ladoga during the siege, thus helping the trapped defenders. In spite of their operational mistakes which cost them victory at Leningrad, the German tactical performance on the defence was impressive - perhaps one of the best of the war by any army. The Soviets efforts during the siege were hindered by constant political interference from Stalin.

Total Soviet military casualties on the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts during the siege were at least 1.5 million, including 620,000 dead or captured. Furthermore, the siege cost the lives of about one million Soviet civilians in Leningrad and prevented the city's industries from participating fully in the Soviet war effort. No city in the history of humankind had suffered a siege as destructive to human life.

The Germans failed in their efforts to push Leningrad's defenders to the breaking point. Indeed, it does not seem that the 18th Army and Luftflotte I made a serious effort to crush Leningrad when it had the opportunity. Except for brief surge periods, the air and artillery bombardments were more of a harassing nature than a serious effort. Compared with the attacks on Stalingrad, Luftflotte I rarely attacked Leningrad with more than a couple of dozen bombers. Too much of the artillery bombardment was conducted with weapons firing shells that were too small to smash down large buildings.

Both the OKH and Kuchler demonstrated a serious lack of imagination in failing to implement any measures either to speed up the siege or eliminate critical targets in the Leningrad area. Tacticly, given the natural outbreak of typhus and cholera inside Leningrad, the Germans might have considered contaminating the Neva River. The river was the only source of fresh water for the trapped population. This action could have resulted in catastrophic collapse within a few weeks.

The Germans failed utterly in efforts to isolate Leningrad by severing the Soviet logistic links across Lake Ladoga. Luftwaffe and artillery attacks harassed Soviet supply operations, but never came close to shutting them down. During winter, the Germans were unwilling to send its single ski battalion onto the ice of Lake Ladoga to harass the ice road, even though many convoys were poorly guarded at first. The German failure to crush the weakly held Oranienbaum bridgehead tied down a complete corps for two years of pointless static warfare and then left the Soviets a valuable springboard for future offensive operations.

Soviet operational performance at Leningrad was badly hindered by constant political interference from Stalin and his Kremlin cronies. Stalin wanted this symbolic city relieved as quickly as possible and paid little heed to Meretskov's professional arguments that proper logistic preparations were essential to success. Once offensives began, Meretskov was often forced to commit his reserves too early and to push for territorial objectives, rather than methodically enlarge the breach by eliminating German strong points.

The writer Vera Inber found it impossible to write about the end of the siege. On the night of January 27 she put down in her diary: ‘The greatest event in the life of Leningrad: full liberation from blockade. And I, a professional writer, have no words for it. I simply say: Leningrad is free. And that is all.’ The workers of the old Putilov factory, the Kirov works, said at the start of the siege: ‘Soon death will be more afraid of us than we of death.’ Now, it was finally clear. It was not Leningrad which had been frightened by death. It was death which had been frightened by Leningrad.

Olga Bergholz was a Russian poet who became famous for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city's blockade, when she became the symbol of the city's strength and determination. After the siege was lifted she wrote: ‘In Leningrad it is quiet. And on the sunny side of the Nevsky, the “most dangerous side,” children are walking. Children in our city now can peacefully walk on the sunny side... And can quietly live in rooms letting on the sunny side. And can even sleep soundly at night, knowing that no one will kill them, and awake in the quiet, quiet sunrise alive and healthy.’

At the northern as on the southern ends of the great front in the East, the Red Army had driven back the Germans, inflicting heavy losses in men and materiel. At both ends of the main front, the Russians were now essentially back at their pre-war borders. The Soviets were now in a position to strike at Finland and the Baltic states. After the offensives in Finland and the Baltics, the Red Army drove the Germans from those territories and forced Finland to surrender.

The Soviet Estonian Offensive was a follow-on of the Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive. Its aim was to reconquer Estonia. Although Narva was not the main direction of the Soviet offensives on the Eastern Front, the Baltic Sea seemed the quickest way for taking the battles to German ground and seizing control of Finland.

The Soviet Estonian offensive stalled after securing several bridgeheads over the Narva River and facing the German Wotan Line. The fierce fighting which started in February stopped at the end of April. With the Narva Offensive, the Red Army captured the town of Narva, as the German troops retreated 16 km to the southwest to continue fighting in their prepared positions. The German forces managed to block the Soviet advance to the Baltic ports for nearly six months due to the nature of the terrain and the resistance of the international troops.

To the north of Leningrad, the Finnish forces still occupied positions only 30 km from the city. Their presence behind their strong defenses represented a threat to Leningrad. After the Soviet government failed to drive Finland from the war by diplomatic means in the spring, the Soviet forces did so militarily. The first Soviet blow hit Finland in June. Soviet forces possessed overwhelming superiority in numbers and firepower, with nearly half a million troops and 10,000 artillery pieces and mortars against Finnish forces of 268,000 troops and less than 2,000 artillery pieces. Given their previous experience with the Finns, the Soviets took no chances.

The Soviet forces of the Karelian Front commanded by General Meretskov carried out the Svir-Petrozavodsk offensive. General Meretskov was assigned to command the Karelian Front after the Volkhov Front was disbanded. The offensive was designed to clear Finnish forces from the area east of Lake Ladoga. During the offensive, General Meretskov’s troops seized the territory between Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega.

The 21st and 23rd Soviet Armies struck north from Leningrad toward Viipuri and almost immediately broke through. Eleven days later, a second attack hit the front in Karelia. The Soviets captured Viipuri but, with considerable German help, the Finns managed to stabilize the front. Nevertheless, their heavy losses and the collapse of German forces elsewhere led Finland to sue for peace. Soviet terms were harsh, but at least they preserved Finnish independence. The battle for Leningrad had come to an end. All the German and Finnish forces had been driven from the Leningrad region.

After the siege was over, in the spring, in one of the few buildings that still stood in the old ‘Salt Port’ where nearly every house had been turned to a skeleton by German shells and bombs, an exhibition was opened, dedicated to the heroic defense of Leningrad. Most of the artists in Leningrad worked on the dioramas and panoramas. Outside the building on Market Street stood enormous German cannon, 406-mm siege guns, Tiger tanks, Panthers, Ferdinand self-propelled guns—the weapons the Germans had brought to bear on the city. The Soviet leaders had romanticised the siege for propaganda purposes.

The horrors of starvation were conveyed most delicately as contrasted with a vivid portrayal of the Ladoga Road of Life. The artists had somewhat romanticized the siege. They had not captured the simplicity and triviality of real life. The presentation was weak on literature, with a few books by Nikolai Tikhonov, Vissarion Sayanov, Vera Inber, Olga Bergholz and Vsevolod Azarov and little more.

The rooms were thronged with visitors and an orchestra played in the central hall. Before Vera Inber and her husband, Dr. Ilya Strashun, left Leningrad that spring to return home to Moscow they, too, went to the exhibition. They exchanged few words as they walked about the display, which, Vera Inber thought, showed everything that had threatened Leningrad and everything that had saved it. Here she saw the very gun, a 154-mm cannon, which had fired on the Erisman Hospital.

These days were a time of creative work and enthusiasm for Leningrad writers. Every writer who had spent the blockade in Leningrad was busy on an epic novel, a play or a great poem. Anna Akhmatova, the princess of Russian poetry, had returned to her old quarters beside the Sheremetev Palace gardens. She had spent the war in Tashkent, in Central Asia, and in Moscow, working and dreaming of her beloved northern capital. Now she was back. On her breast she proudly wore the Medal for the Defense of Leningrad. It was awarded for her weeks in the city in the autumn of 1941 and for her patriotic poem, ‘Courage’.

The Renaissance of Leningrad was about to be undertaken. Its general outline had been presented by Party Secretary Andrei Zhdanov in a two-hour speech, at the first plenary session of the Leningrad City and Regional Party which had been held since the start of the war. ‘Our task,’ said Zhdanov, ‘is not just reconstruction but the restoration of the city—not to restore it as it was, or simply to change its facade, but to create a city even more comfortable than it was.’ But the harsh reality was that the reconstruction of the city would take years and would cost billions of roubles.

A vast square was to be created before the Smolny ensemble, and the whole area around the Finland Station was to be transformed into a vista honoring Lenin, who was to be depicted in the center atop the famous armored car from which he delivered his first address on his return to Petrograd in April, 1917. The city was to double in size to the south, southeast and west in order to provide direct access to the Baltic along the Gulf of Finland. The plans were based on a city population of 3,500,000, substantially above the prewar level of 3,193,000.

Some notion of what was meant by the Renaissance of Leningrad was provided by the grandiose plans and sketches drafted by the city’s architects under the direction of Chief Architect N. V. Baranov. A group of American correspondents visited the city a few days after the siege was broken. They talked with Mayor Popkov, with Chief Architect Baranov, with Director Nikolai Puzerov of the Kirov works, and with the survivors of the blockade. The correspondents saw the great architectural ensembles which had emerged from the drafting boards in the first winter of the siege.

Everything was to be restored—everything historic and grandiose, that is. The Germans had destroyed the Pulkovo observatory, the Botanical and Zoological institutes, much of the Leningrad University, 187 of the 300 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings preserved by the government as historical monuments, 840 factories, 71 bridges—the catalogue ran on and on. Thirty-two shells and two bombs had hit the Hermitage Winter Palace alone. More than 300,000 square feet of rooms and 60,000 square feet of glass and windows had been damaged at the Hermitage. The total damage in Leningrad was estimated at 45 billion rubles.

Leningrad aspired to stand again as the window on the West or, as Ehrenburg suggested, as the gateway through which Russia, the new bearer and defender of Western culture, would emerge. There were some who thought that in the postwar metamorphosis of Russia Leningrad once again might become the capital city and resume its role as the imperial city Peter the Great planned.

Leningrad, the eternal city, as the writer Ilya Ehrenburg called it, was to be transformed. Already the Leningrad writers were arguing whether they should or needed to keep fresh the memory of the agony of the city. Ehrenburg thought it a pointless argument. It was not possible to forget what had been suffered, just as it was not possible to live only in those memories. While remembering its sacrifices, Leningrad dreamed of new glories. Ehrenburg, like so many others, thought that the ruins of the Peterhof and Pushkin palaces should be left as monuments of brutality. But for the city itself, of course, there would be a greater, a brighter life than ever.

The plan for the Leningrad Renaissance was founded upon a decree of the State Defense Committee. This, naturally, gave priority to the restoration of heavy industry, to the rebuilding of the demolished machine shops, the specialized metallurgical crafts, the factories which were the bone and sinew of Russia’s military and industrial capability. The sums advanced for rehabilitation and restoration were niggardly. For example, the 1945 capital construction budget was 398 million rubles, of which 200 million were for housing. This was about that of the peacetime 1940 budget.

Leningrad began to scale down its vision and cut the corners off its dreams. Party Secretary Kuznetsov and Mayor Popkov presented to Moscow a new and revised plan for the development of the city. Kuznetsov and Popkov proposed that the Renaissance be carried out over a ten-year period, presumably during the fourth and fifth Five-Year Plans. More than fifteen years passed before another word was publicly expressed concerning the Leningrad Renaissance. This was no accident. Leningrad was the last great city to be restored.

The plan revived the original Leningrad hope for a ‘wide front’ along the Gulf of Finland and an expansion of the city limits to incorporate broad areas to the south and to the east. As a result, a quarter of a century later the great city on the Neva had still not recovered from the wounds of war. The scars, physical and spiritual, could still be found.

The deadly sequence of Stalinist events, beginning with the savage purges of the 1930’s, the outbreak of war, the nine hundred days, the Leningrad Affair, left a mark nothing could erase. The dreams of a new gateway to Europe were not realized. Leningrad was the last great Russian city to be restored after World War II, far behind Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, Minsk and, of course, Stalingrad.

The Leningrad Affair was a complex mechanism devised by Georgy Malenkov and Lavrenti Beria, with the close collaboration of Stalin himself and his chief of cabinet, General Poskrebyshev. The cultural goal was to suppress any writings that portrayed the siege of Leningrad in a dark manner or in a manner that contradicted Stalin’s official line. Nonpolitical people went down by the hundreds. As always in Russia, the writers and artists were the first victims of the savage political warfare.

The Leningrad case was unusual in that not only was there no public mention of the ‘plot’ in which so many high officials were exterminated, but fantastic efforts were made to destroy the historical record of events in Leningrad so that future generations would be unable to ascertain what really had happened, particularly during the days of the war and especially during the nine hundred days.

It was nearly three years before Vera Ketlinskaya’s ‘The Blockade’ was published. The book’s sponsor, Solomon Lozovsky, didn’t recognize it. He asked, ‘Is this the same manuscript I read or another?’ Her novel, Ketlinskaya said, had been gone over with ‘cold steel and a hot iron’. Everything ‘gloomy’ or ‘terrible’ or ‘negative’ or ‘frightening’ or ‘demoralizing’ or ‘disquieting’ had been taken out. Everything was left in the book—except the spirit of Leningrad.

The writers of Leningrad were summoned to cast the most brilliant of their number out of their circle. Anna Akhmatova, it was said, was a ‘whore’, Mikhail Zoshchenko a ‘pimp’. The dream of a European ecumenical Leningrad died out. Neither Akhmatova nor Zoshchenko were permitted to be present to defend themselves on the day the Leningrad Union of Writers expelled them. No one defended them. Akhmatova was not arrested (although her son was), but she was deprived of a livelihood. She survived on the charity of her friends and her own iron courage.

The difficulties suffered by Vera Ketlinskaya differed only in detail from those encountered by everyone who sought to write on the Leningrad theme. Olga Bergholz’ Leningrad apartment became, with the passage of the years, a minor archive of the blockade. Here were collected her own manuscripts from the earliest days of the war, file after file marked simply ‘N.O.’ (ne opublikovano—not published). Among them was the manuscript of her play, ‘Born in Leningrad’, which no producer dared touch, fearful of the sharpness of her recollections, the genuineness of the human pain she portrayed.

One of Vera Ketlinskaya’s best and oldest friends was Solomon Lozovsky, a salty old Bolshevik who acted as Soviet press spokesman early in the war. When she completed ‘The Blockade’, the novel on which she worked with cold-stiffened fingers as her mother ’s frozen body lay next door, she gave it to Lozovsky to read. Lozovsky was, in her view, ‘one of the most crystal-honest, ideologically sound, warmest and democratic of Communists.’ He was enthusiastic over her picture of Leningrad. Not so her editors.

The Leningrad writers and novelists unable to publish or to complete works on the Leningrad blockade included the novelist, Sergei Khmelnitsky, the playwright Leonid Rakhmanov, the novelist Yevgeny Ryss, and the novelist Nikolai Chukovsky. Chukovsky’s ‘Baltic Skies’ suffered as severely in the hands of the censors as did Ketlinskaya’s ‘The Blockade’.

In 1949, without notice or public announcement, the Museum of the Defense of Leningrad was closed. The director, Major Rakov, was arrested. The two guidebooks to the museum which he wrote were confiscated. The exhibits vanished into the maws of the secret police, whence many never emerged. A new museum was opened in 1957, 4 years after Stalin’s death. Here were collected some of the exhibits which once graced the earlier institution, but far from all. ‘It only to a minor degree reflects that heroic epoch which is so memorable to all people,’ in the view of Dmitri V. Pavlov, the food dictator of the blockade days.

The political goal was to destroy the Leningrad Party organization and all officials of consequence who had been associated with Andrei Zhdanov. Zhadanov was the political leader in Leningrad during the siege. The affair took the same general form as the great purges before the Second World War. Thus, it associated a large number of prominent Party figures and cultural personalities and accused them of a bizarre series of charges involving conspiracy and treason. The career of Aleksei Kosygin, later to become Premier of the Soviet Union, hung in the balance. For several years no one, including himself, could say whether he would survive.

It is impossible to trace the moves and countermoves that so swiftly followed within the shadows of the Kremlin walls. Zhdanov did not succeed in destroying his rival, Malenkov. The latter beat his way back. Stalin put the blame on Zhdanov for the breaking away of Marshal Tito from the Soviet bloc, the first crack in the monolith Russia had erected in postwar Eastern Europe. Malenkov’s ascendancy was apparent. It was he who now signed the orders for Stalin’s secretariat. In 1948, Zhdanov’s death was announced.

The Leningrad epic was wiped out of public memory insofar as this was physically possible. The public records, the statistics, the memoirs of what happened were destroyed or suppressed. Zhdanov’s papers have never been published. No volume of his speeches exists. His personal archives - if they still exist - are unavailable, probably under security classification. Even the wartime files of the Leningrad newspapers are not publicly accessible, and references to blockade issues are rarely found in Soviet publications. The elaborate stenographic records which are a routine of official Soviet life are seldom cited. They were suppressed or destroyed.

At Stalin’s orders, one by one the figures of the Leningrad epic vanished: Secretary Kuznetsov, Mayor Popkov, all the other Party secretaries, the chiefs of the big Leningrad industries, and almost everyone who had been closely associated with Zhdanov, including N. A. Voznesensky, chief of the State Planning Commission, his brother, A. A. Voznesensky, rector of Leningrad University, M. I. Rodionov, chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Federated Republic, Colonel General I. V. Shikin, head of the Red Army Political Directorate, and many, many more—possibly as many as two thousand in Leningrad alone.

To this day, no official explanation of the case has been made public, although its existence has been known since Nikita Khrushchev’s speech of February 1956. In Krushchev’s report ‘On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences’ he was very critical of Stalin’s reign, particularly when it came to Stalin’s purges. This speech was a milestone in the Khrushchev Thaw.

The various purge scenarios of the Stalin epoch, beginning in the 1930’s and continuing up to the time of Stalin’s death, differed little in their general ingredients. The differences lay in the individuals. The plot or allegation was merely reconstructed to fit a particular historical period. The major difference between the early purges and those of the 1940’s and early 1950’s lay in the fact that Stalin publicized those of the 1930’s very heavily. Those of the 1940’s and early 1950’s were carried out in secret. The general public did not know their nature, although often there was widespread knowledge that some kind of purge was under way.

All the documents of the Council for the Defense of Leningrad were placed in the archives of the Ministry of Defense. No Soviet historian has had access to them. Early in the siege, commissions in the Kirov and other regions of Leningrad were set up to collect facts about the blockade. A special Party bureau began to prepare a chronicle of the blockade. It was never published. In January, 1944, Party Secretary Zhdanov ordered a collection of materials on the blockade published, including articles by himself, Secretary Kuznetsov, Secretary Y. F. Kapustin and Mayor Popkov. They were never published.

At the end of the siege, Professor Orbeli was directed to prepare a work on the achievements of Leningrad science during the blockade. The volume listed 1,000 scientific discoveries and contained contributions by 480 authors. It was never published. Two proofs have been preserved, possibly by accident, one in the Academy of Science archives and one in the personal papers of the geologist, I. V. Danilovsky, in the Leningrad Public Library. A comprehensive work on the role of artists and intelligentsia in the war was prepared. Composer Dmitri Shostakovich and many others contributed articles. None of this material ever appeared in print.

The charges may be deduced from the nature of the suppressions. The charges turned the heroism of Leningrad inside out, presenting the Council for the Defense of Leningrad as part of a plot to deliver the city to the Germans. The Leningrad leadership was charged with planning to blow up the city and scuttle the Baltic Fleet. Treachery was alleged at many levels. The fact that there was not one word of truth in the bizarre allegations made no difference. The charges were used to exterminate all of Zhdanov’s lieutenants and thousands of minor officials. They were shot or sent to prison camps.

It may have been contended that Zhdanov and the Leningrad group deliberately sought to involve Russia in war, hoping to procure her defeat and to set up a new non-Communist regime with the aid of the Nazis. At the end of the war, the conspirators were alleged to have taken steps looking to the seizure of power, the transfer of the capital from Moscow to Leningrad and the setting up of a new regime with the aid of foreign powers, specifically, in all probability, with British assistance.

Nothing in the chamber of Stalin’s horrors equalled the Leningrad blockade and its epilogue, the Leningrad Affair. The blockade may have cost the lives of one and a half million people. The ‘affair’ destroyed thousands of people who survived the most terrible days any modern city had ever known.

During the Brezhnev era a volume depicting the struggles of Leningrad finally appeared for the general public. But this work too was heavily censored. After Stalin’s death one symbolic aspect of the siege was restored though. During the siege the main street in Leningrad, Nevsky Prospekt, contained signs warning pedestrians which part of the road was more dangerous in case of shelling. After the war the signs became a symbol of the siege, but they were destroyed by Stalin’s regime during the Leningrad Affair. During Nikita Khrushchev's era these signs were restored.

The passage of time did not diminish the political struggle over the Leningrad events. A volume of Leningrad memoirs, including some reminiscences originally set down in wartime and the years before the Leningrad Affair, was turned over to the printer in the summer of 1965. It was not cleared by the censorship for three years and when it finally reached the bookstores late in 1968 it bore painful evidences of omission, revision and occasional falsification. The time had not yet come when the people of Leningrad could freely tell their story in Russia.

One thing was finally achieved. The blue and white signs reappeared on the Nevsky Prospekt in 1957. Once again, pedestrians were warned: ‘Citizens: In case of shelling this side of the street is the most dangerous.’ The signs are carefully touched up each spring. The Leningraders were very fond of them.

On the wall beside the eternal flame at Piskarevsky Park, the words of Olga Bergholz were etched: ‘Here lie the people of Leningrad, here are the citizens—men, women and children—And beside them the soldiers of the Red Army, who gave their lives defending you, Leningrad, cradle of Revolution. We cannot number the noble ones who lie beneath the eternal granite, but of those honored by this stone let no one forget, let nothing be forgotten.’

Stalin is dead. So are Zhdanov, Kuznetsov, Popkov, Govorov. So are Akhmatova, Zoshchenko, Shvarts, Chukovsky. A new generation has been born which does not know the names of Malenkov, Beria and Stalin. But the memory of the nine hundred days will always live.