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View Full Version : The 900 Days - The Siege of Leningrad



Laconia
04-21-2011, 10:56 AM
I've been reading this book by Harrison E. Salisbury about the siege of Lenningrad. A good bit of the book details the early part of the German invasion in the northern sector of the Soviet Union. There was of couse some terrible fighting at that time as the Germans advanced and the Russians were getting their butts kicked real bad.

A Soviet reporter wrote that some of the soldiers "told of the overwhelming German fire, of the terrible tanks, of the paratroops, of the encircling movements. The Germans it appeared were all-powerful, merciless, unconquerable. Their army was an irresistable machine".

In the area of Tallinn, the "Russian Dunkirk" was attempted. Of the 29 transports (carrying civilians) attempting to leave, 25 were lost, 3 were beached on Hogland Island and only 1 reached Lenningrad. In all, the Baltic Merchant (non combat) Fleet lost 38 ships in the Gulf of Riga. More than 10,000 lives were lost. In addition, 16 warships, mostly gunboats, minesweepers, and cutters and 6 small transports were sunk. Among the great ships which went down were the Ivan Papanin, carrying 3,000 troops; the Vtoraya Pyatiletka with about 3,000; the Luga with 300 wounded; the Balaksh and the Tobol, each carrying several hundred. ( These were some amazing losses.)

Finally, General Zhukov was sent in to save the day. Mr Salisbury wrote that: "He (Zhukov) was terrible in those September days. There was no other word for it. He threatened commander after commander with the firing squad. He removed men right and left. And he insisted on one thing. Attack! Attack! Attack! This was the essence of his first orders on taking command. It made no difference on how weak the unit. It made no difference if they had no weapons, no bullets, or if they had been retreating for weeks. Attack! Those were his orders. Disobey and go before the tribunal. Attack or be shot - a simple equation." (General Zhukov was definitely one tough hombre.)