|Leningrad 1941 – 1944|
Siege of Leningrad
In the summer of 1941 the German Army Group North had failed to take Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). Finnish military forces were located north of Leningrad, at the 1939 Finnish-Soviet border, while German forces occupied territories to the south. The siege started on September 8 1941. Soviet deportations of Finns and Germans from the Leningrad area to inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union began in March 1942. The fighting continued around Leningrad for two-and-a-half years. In the north, the Finns stood guard along their southern border. Because the Soviet records during the war were incomplete, the ultimate number of casualties during the siege is disputed. The Soviet government reported about 670,000 registered deaths from 1941 to January 1944. Some independent studies suggest a much higher death toll of between 700,000 and 1.3 million. Reports of cannibalism appeared in the winter of 1941 – 1942, after all birds, rats, and pets had been eaten by survivors. Hungry gangs attacked and ate defenceless people. Leningrad police even formed a special unit to combat cannibalism. Almost all historians regard the siege as a German operation and do not consider that the Finns effectively participated in the siege. Russian historian Nikolai Baryshnikov argues that active Finnish participation did occur, but historians have been mostly silent about it. Soon after the siege was lifted those who had led the city in its time of need were arrested by the KGB (presumably on the orders of Stalin). Their crime was that they had failed to contact Moscow frequently enough during the siege to ask for guidance. Those arrested, after 900 days of being besieged, now had to face the Soviet Gulags. Credit: Dahn A. Batchelor and Wikipedia. Image: Public domain.